Committment to Notre Dame

Charlie Weis has recruited exceptionally well since taking over as Notre Dame's head coach after the 2004 season and this year has been no different. Weis and his staff have received 18 verbal commitments for the 2010 recruiting class, which Scout.com ranks as the No. 10 class in the country. All of the work put in by Weis and his staff could unravel if Weis is fired on Monday.

Recent events coming from the Notre Dame football office indicate that the end is near for Weis. Each year the Irish finish their season in California with a game against USC or Stanford, and each year the Notre Dame coaches take the opportunity to visit all of their top recruiting targets on the West Coast. That is every year except this year. During his weekly radio show on WLS-890 in Chicago, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced that Charlie Weis would return to South Bend, Ind. after Saturday's game. Shortly after that, he and Weis would meet to discuss Weis' future as Notre Dame's head coach.

With four consecutive losses to Navy, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Stanford, back-to-back 6-6 regular season campaigns and a 35-27 career mark, it appears that change is afoot at Notre Dame. If reports are correct, Weis could be relieved of his duties as soon as Monday. If that does occur, it is inevitable that a number of Notre Dame's 18 verbal commitments could reopen their recruitment.

The first recruit to commit to the 2010 class was offensive lineman Christian Lombard (6-foot-5, 280-pounds). Lombard actually pledged to the Irish last January when he was just a junior at Fremd High School (Palatine, Ill.) Despite watching his future teammates struggle for much of the 2009 season, Lombard is firmly committed to the Irish.

"If they do end up making a coaching change, it's not going to affect my decision," Scout.com's No. 1 rated offense guard prospect said. "I committed to Notre Dame because of Notre Dame. I don't think coach Weis would want it any different. Other than that I don't really don't want to comment on it, because I really don't know enough about the (coaching) situation."

Wide receiver Tai-ler Jones (6-foot-0, 183-pounds) had originally committed to play for Stanford, but flipped to Notre Dame shortly after taking an official visit to South Bend to watch the Irish play USC in October. Scout.com's No. 21 rated receiver from Gainesville High School (Ga.) doesn't appear to be wavering despite the talk of a possible coaching change.

"That's not going to make me second guess my commitment or have me de-commit and open my recruitment back up," Jones said. "I'd hate to see coach Weis leave, but at the same time, I chose Notre Dame not only for the coaching staff and what it can offer me athletically, but also for the school and the degree that I can get from Notre Dame. If there were a coaching change, I'd hate to see Charlie leave, but I'd adapt and learn about the new coach coming in."

Another recruit Weis was able to lure from Stanford's recruiting class is safety Chris Badger. Badger is planning on graduating from Timpview High School (Provo, Utah) in December so that he can enroll at Notre Dame in January. Like Jones, he intends on staying the course.

"My plan is to be in South Bend January 12, to start classes and I don't see that changing," the 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety explained. "I don't want to comment on the coaching situation, because coach Weis is still the head coach. I really don't know a lot about it. I just know there are a lot of rumors and stuff out there, but we'll see what happens. I'm not going to speculate on it. As far as me, I'm just going to see how things pan out the next couple weeks. Hopefully coach Weis and coach (Corwin) Brown are still my coaches, but I plan on finishing up the (school) work I have and getting to South Bend in January. That's my plan and I don't see it changing."

Scout.com's No. 3 rated tight end Alex Welch from Elder High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) and quarterback Tommy Rees of Lake Forest High School (Ill.) would like to see Weis retained, but if a coaching change is made, both intend on sticking with Notre Dame.

"(Notre Dame) definitely didn't live up to expectations this year," Welch commented. "Everyone thought that they'd be playing in a BCS game, but its football and things happen. I don't think that it's the coaching staff that's the problem. I don't know what the problem is, but I'm just hoping coach Weis is the coach next year. (If he isn't) I'll have to see what happens, but I don't think that would change my decision.

"In my mind, nothing has changed," Rees responded when asked about the possibility of a coaching change at Notre Dame. "Just because of a couple loses, I'm not going to de-commit. I committed to Notre Dame for a reason and I'm holding to it right now.

"I don't really want to comment on the coaching situation until something happens. I don't think it would affect my decision that much. I really like coach Weis and nothing has been done, so I'm really not going to say any more on that. If something did happen, I'd still be committed to Notre Dame."

Although wide receiver Bennett Jackson from Raritan High School (Hazlet, N.J) was impressed by Weis and the Irish coaches, he didn't base his decision to commit to Notre Dame solely on the coaching staff.

"I picked Notre Dame because of the school and the education and the atmosphere," Jackson explained. "Coaches are just another bonus or a positive to everything else. I liked all the coaches, but if there were a change to occur, I'd just work with it. I don't think that I'd de-commit or anything.

"I'm going to the school because when I went there and saw everything first-hand, and I just liked everything about it. I liked everything about the football program and the school."

Scout.com's No 24 rated defensive end Blake Lueders (6-foot-5, 250-pounds) echoed Jackson's comments shortly after Notre Dame's loss to Connecticut. The standout from Zionsville High School (Ind.) selected Notre Dame for reasons other than the coaching staff.

"Obviously it's disappointing to see and I want to see my future team succeed," Lueders responded when asked about Notre Dame's struggles on the field. "But I'm still committed to Notre Dame no matter what happens. It's a great school, and I'm looking forward to playing there, so nothing has changed on my end.

"Schools have started to call me again and tell me that they still have a spot for me. I tell them nothing is out of the realm of possibilities, but I'm committed to Notre Dame."

Notre Dame has commitments from two of the top linebacker prospects from North Carolina, Prince Shembo from Ardrey Kell High School (Charlotte, N.C.) and Kendall Moore from Southeast Raleigh High School (Raleigh, N.C.) Although both have watched the Irish struggle this season, it appears they intend to follow through with their commitments.

"Yeah, I will," Shembo (6-foot-2, 225-pounds) responded when asked if he would sign his letter of intent with Notre Dame in February. "They'll get better. It's not like they're getting blown out or anything. They've all been good games. Everyone is playing hard. The mistakes that they've been having can be changed and they'll be fine…but nothing is going to change my decision to go to Notre Dame.

"I definitely see the ups and downs," the 6-foot-2, 229-pound Moore explained. "But I like the fact that they don't give up. We tend to get ourselves into holes. It definitely seems to be a different team that shows up every week. It does concern me, but I'm a positive person. As long as I get up there, I feel like I can help, so I'm definitely thinking positive about that.

"I really don't know exactly what's going on (with the coaching situation). I'll definitely try to talk to coach Brown to see what's going on and what could possibly happen. I really don't know enough about the situation to even make a comment on it right now."

The last player to commit to Notre Dame was Toney Hurd (5-foot-9, 185-pounds). The cornerback from Marshall High School (Missouri City, Texas) took his official visit to Notre Dame in early September and eventually pledged to the Irish at the end of October. While Hurd is still committed to Notre Dame, he's keeping an open-mind when it comes to recruiting.

"As of right now, I'm going through coach Weis, coach Brown and coach Ianello about everything," Hurd said. "If there were a departure of those guys, I'm not sure how I'd handle the situation. I don't have any visits scheduled. I talked to my mom and she feels I may need to take another visit in case something happens with the (Notre Dame) coaching situation."

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