"It's a real special place"

Notre Dame may not sign as many offensive linemen as they would like this year, so they may need to load up with big-men in 2011. One of their top offensive line targets for next year will be Conor Hanratty from New Canaan High School (New Canaan, Conn.)

Conor Hanratty (6-foot-5, 300-pounds) is a name Irish fans should start to become familiar with if they aren't already. Conor is one of the top junior offensive linemen in the country and the son two-time Irish All-American quarterback Terry Hanratty.

"I was really excited," Terry responded when asked about his son landing a scholarship offer from his alma mater. "It is obviously a great opportunity, but the process is going to continue the way we had planned it originally. He has a lot of great schools that have offered him scholarships. He's a heck of a lot better lineman than I was a quarterback.

"Obviously Notre Dame was the greatest place in the world for me. The academics, the coaching, the school, the camaraderie… everything was spectacular, but Conor is a different person. It's really where he feels comfortable. But it's a major deal, and I'm obviously very happy about it because of what Notre Dame has meant me since I was a kid."

As excited as dad was to hear about the scholarship offer from Notre Dame, Conor was just as pleased. Although the Irish would appear to have the inside track to land Conor, there will be plenty of competition for his signature.

"It was really great," Conor said of his Notre Dame scholarship offer. "Notre Dame contacted my coach and my coach called me down top his office. I talked to coach Weis and the thing that he emphasized was, ‘I don't want you here because of your father or your name. I want you here because of you and your ability to play.' That was real important and real special.

"I have nine offers Boston College, Stanford, Cal, Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Maryland and Virginia. I'd like to take a trip out to the West Coast, to see Cal and Stanford because they're two interesting schools that I don't know much about. I've talked to coach Harbaugh before and I'd like to go out there and meet him in person."

Although Conor may end up playing his college football at another university, Notre Dame will always be a unique place to him.

"I guess one word would be special," he said of Notre Dame. "It's a real special place. I've been going there my whole life. I've loved everything about it. It's just a real cool place to be.

"I think they're looking real good this year. The games they've lost were real close. They've been in every game and it seems like every game is decided on the last play. They have a good record so far, so they're looking real good."

As familiar as he is with the school, Conor has also become very familiar with the Notre Dame coaching staff.

"I'm real familiar with them," Conor explained. "I've met them multiple times. They've come to my spring games and I went to camp there this summer. I thought (coach Verducci) was a wonderful coach. I really connected with what he was saying and it was a real privilege to meet him. He has some much experience working with NFL teams and college teams.

"They haven't really specified (which position) I'd play. Right now I'm a tackle, but they could move me to guard. I guess I prefer playing tackle, because I've been there my whole life."

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