Recruiting week in review.

The Blue-Gold game, Notre Dame's intra-squad scrimmage that ends the spring practice season has always been a major tool in recruiting. It's not unusual for several verbal commitments to come out of that game. This year's game took on perhaps even greater significance since it seems that Irish recruiting has stagnated in recent weeks.

If the early reports from recruits are any indication, the Notre Dame coaching staff may well have gotten the ball rolling again in recruiting. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Eyes?

Notre Dame always recruits nationally and recruits some of the best players in the nation. So when a top-rated player plies his trade in Notre Dame's backyard, there's no doubt that the coaching staff is going to be all over him. This is the case with Kyle Prater. Prater, WR, 6-4, 190, Proviso West High School, Hillside, IL is a Scout.com five-star prospect and the number one ranked wide receiver in the nation. He made his third visit to South Bend since last fall in order to attend the Blue-Gold game.

"I learned a lot," said Prater of his visit. "Some things I heard again. Coach (Charlie) Weis stressed the fact that the best players play and that if a freshman is better than a senior, he'll play."

Prater is confident that wherever he goes he'll make an immediate impact. His junior year numbers would seem to back up that confidence. He caught 60 passes for 948 yards and nine touchdowns. He also blew up at the U.S. Army All-American Combine, earning scholarship offers from top programs such as Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, California, Auburn, Stanford and Notre Dame.

Prater has a family connection to Notre Dame. His cousin is former Irish quarterback Carlyle Holiday. Prater used this latest trip to get a better feel for the team as a group.

"This trip to Notre Dame, I basically wanted to get out there and see the team as a whole, see how they came together in the spring and see what the environment was like for the spring game," related Prater. "It's not far from home so I came down here to have a good time and I did that. It was nice."

Prater had a good talk with Weis and the Irish head coach stressed with him, like he does with all recruits, how Notre Dame represents more than just a four year decision.

"He stressed a couple of things," Prater began. "He said some people come to Notre Dame to play football for Notre Dame, but when you come here academics are always stressed. He said football will be there, but that degree you take away will always stand out. There is a lot of things going into my decision, but that's one of the things I'm looking at."

Prater plans to wait until after his senior season to make a decision. And there are many factors that will play a role. If fan support counts upon that decision, then Notre Dame may well be in good shape.

"Man, my wrist is killing me right now," Prater laughed. "I've been signing autographs everywhere I go. A lot of kids looked up to me and when I was a kid I looked up to a lot of people, so it was cool and real humbling. The fans are great down there. The game was great and the environment was cool. I had a nice little time."

James Stone, OT, 6-5, 295, Maplewood Comp High School, Nashville, TN also made it in for the Blue-Gold game. Stone, a Scout.com four-star prospect and the eleventh ranked tackle in the nation represents a high priority for the Irish coaching staff. Notre Dame fans, always well educated, gave him a greeting that reflected that importance. Stone was not just overwhelmed, but wondered if the fans had made a mistake.

"It was flattering," Stone said. "I was kind of laughing. At first I didn't think they were serious, like they thought I was somebody else. There were a few kids out there with balls and posters and stuff. They had the Rivals and Scout pages and they'd ask you to sign a page. That kind of surprised me a lot. I didn't know regular people kept all that."

Stone had originally planned to take a trip to South Bend during the winter, but those plans fell through. When he finally got there for the spring game, he wasn't disappointed.

"I enjoyed it," Stone said of his first ever visit to Notre Dame. "It was very hospitable. I enjoyed getting to see their campus for the first time and watch their team play."

Stone came away impressed with the Irish squad.

"I feel like this team is going in a positive direction," Stone said. "I liked the offense. It looked like everyone was getting good reps." Stone also got a chance to meet, for the first time, with new offensive line coach Frank Verducci. Verducci made it clear that he liked how the young Tennessean played the game.

"He was just telling me he liked my overall drive, my footwork and he liked how I played on film and that I could come in and be a good lineman and help their team," Stone explained. "He likes just how I play the game and he said he could help mold that and make me better. And that's how I play. I'm just trying to get better."

Stone plans on making a fall decision and is still considering all his options. However, Notre Dame has definitely made an impression.

"Right now I'm seriously considering Notre Dame as one of the schools," Stone said. "They're up there. When I go down to make my final decision, I'm still going to be considering Notre Dame."

These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Eyes.


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