Irish looking strong on offense for the future

<P>The rule of thumb when looking at recruiting classes is to view two classes together and take a look at how Notre Dame filled their needs at each position. It's also important to land a true starter at each position in one of the two classes. Let's take a look at the 2002 and 2003 class together and see how Notre Dame filled their needs. We will look at the offense first. </P>

Quarterback

2002 Chris Olsen
2003 Brady Quinn

Both quarterbacks were rated very high among the top quarterbacks in the country. Olsen has a year head start on Quinn to learn the system. Quinn is a great prospect with a strong arm and good accuracy. One of these two should develop into a quality starter at quarterback.

Running Back

2002 Jeff Jenkins and Nate Schiccatano
2003 Travis Thomas, Ashley McConnell and possibly Isaiah Gardner

It's too early to predict which players will see the most time. McConnell is the only true fullback prospect. Jenkins could grow into a fullback. Schiccatano could play a number of positions. Travis Thomas and Isaiah Gardner look to be the most likely. Both were heavily recruited and Gardner had offers to play tailback from many of the top schools in the country. Notre Dame has missed on landing that true homerun speed here although Gardner is said to have very good speed.

Wide Receiver

2002 Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight
2003 Jeff Samardzija, Chinedum Ndukwe, Ambrose Wooden, Chase Anastasio

Notre Dame has some serious talent here. Stovall and McKnight have already proven they can play. Wooden brings 4.3 speed to the position to stretch the field. Samardzija is rumored in the Ed McCaffrey mold. Ndukwe is a very physical receiver and Anastasio should bring some athleticism to the position as well. I expect one of Wooden or Anastasio to move eventually but I don't think Notre Dame fans can ask for much more than this.

Tight Ends

2002 Anthony Fasano and Marcus Freeman
2003 Greg Olsen and John Carlson

Notre Dame also added some major talent here as well. Fasano can catch the ball and get open. Freeman is extremely athletic for his size. Olsen is considered the prize of the 2003 class by many and John Carlson is a player they really wanted. I do expect one to move eventually. Marcus Freeman could add depth to the defensive line possibly.

Offensive Line

2002 Bob Morton, James Bonelli, Jamie Ryan, Scott Raridon and Brian Mattes
2003 John Sullivan and Ryan Harris

Bob Morton was widely considered the top offensive center prospect in the country last year. Jamie Ryan was also a highly-ranked offensive guard prospect. James Bonelli and Scott Raridon were also top recruits. Brian Mattes will be moved to offensive line this spring. John Sullivan was widely considered the top offensive center in the 2003 class and Ryan Harris was heavily recruited and ranked very high as a left tackle prospect. I could see Morton at center, Ryan and Sullivan at guard and Harris at left tackle. Notre Dame needs to find a right tackle in Raridon, Mattes and Bonelli and they have a solid offensive line.

Using the two-class theory, the Irish did about as well as anyone could ask on offense. They still needed a speedy tailback but I am sure they will land one or more in the next class. This is an excellent job by Tyrone Willingham and his staff.


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