Irish Lads: 2008 Recruiting Spectacular

I agree with the rest of you crazies out there, National Signing Day should be a National holiday. What a day it was to be Irish. This was our best haul of recruits since the early nineties. Much will be expected of these young men, but only time will tell if this class is truly great.

Well let’s just jump right into it. Just as I did last year I will provide my grades for each recruit and have provided my predictions for jersey numbers as well. I hope I do better with those than I did last year. If not, I’m no different than any talking headpiece on TV. You will also not only have my thoughts on each recruit, but that of Mike Lurie, editor of Notre Dame Hockey. (He’s a football nut too)

So here it is, the 2008 Irish Lads.

Anthony McDonald
Inside linebacker
Sherman Oaks (CA) Notre Dame

Ht: 6-foot-3
Wt: 220 lbs
Forty: 4.5 secs
Bench max: 350 pounds
Squat max: 450 pounds
GPA: 3.4
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: If I had to name one recruit that I find myself getting most jazzed about, Anthony McDonald is hands down that recruit. In watching the footage of McDonald, I see a kid that shoots the holes with more verve than any of the other incoming linebackers. While Steve Filer and Darius Fleming are both stout at the point of attack and solid at holding their block until the runner is in proximity, McDonald seems to swim around would-be tacklers and seek out the ball-carrier with precision.

In addition to being sound against the run, McDonald seems to have advanced field vision and play recognition skills that allow him to be equally adept at playing the pass. As an ILB, McDonald probably won’t intercept many passes, but he certainly will separate the ball carrier from the rock on the short underneath routes and passes out of the backfield.

Along with all the physical gifts, McDonald has the leadership qualities and personal characteristics that one looks for in a Notre Dame man. I have no doubt that he will eventually become a defensive captain on this team and I will go out on a limb and predict that by the time his career at Notre Dame is over, we will be talking about McDonald in the same conversation as Jim Lynch, Bob Golic, Michael Stonebreaker and Bob Crable.

Subway Domer: I wanted a middle linebacker. Not a safety. Not a defensive end. A freaking linebacker. The Irish got one in Anthony McDonald. McDonald looks to have all of the characteristics needed in a middle linebacker. Not only can he light up a runner with a fierce tackle, but is equally capable of sitting back in the zone and provide much needed pass coverage against the curl and dump routes.

I’m not sure if McDonald will see a lot of playing time his freshman year with a one of the ILB positions being filled by 5th year ILB Maurice Crum. He should, however, be right in the mix with the Smith’s (Toryan & Scott), Filer, and Paskorz. Give this kid one year in a college weight training program and he will be even more intense.

Expect a lot from A-Mac. He should fit in quite nicely in Corwin Brown’s defense and be a steady fixture in the future. With his skill set and determination I too predict a great career for McDonald. This isn’t Vernaglia, this is a freaking middle linebacker.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#54
Commitment
Anthony McDonald Video

Michael Floyd
Wide Receiver
St. Paul (MN) Cretin-Derham Hall

Ht: 6-foot-3
Wt: 195 lbs
Forty: 4.55 secs
GPA: 3.2
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: There is no doubt in my mind that Notre Dame is getting the best wide receiver recruit available in this year’s crop. Rivals has Floyd ranked No. 6 in the class behind Jonathan Baldwin, DeAndre Brown, DeVier Posey, A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Out of that list, Posey is the only player that I believe stacks up with Floyd and that’s because he has added value as a kick returner. Baldwin and Brown are both 6’6″, and Rivals apparently loves measurables, but since when has the Rivals ranking system ever been accurate?

Floyd possesses the field vision, the polished route running skills, the deep threat ability (as witnessed in the AA Bowl) and above all the receiving skills to be the dynamic receiver that the Irish have been lacking. His skill set is diverse and while he isn’t the top receiver in any one category (I do believe he has the best/softest hands) he is the most well rounded of the bunch. If DeAndre Brown is the “Randy Moss” of this recruiting class, then Michael Floyd is the “Cris Carter”. And just ask Minnesota Viking fans which player they preferred.

Last but not least is the issue of character, which, like most Notre Dame recruits, Floyd has. On top of being a future All American, Floyd has the character traits that all coaches love to have on their team.

Subway Domer: Relief. It’s not spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S, it’s F-L-O-Y-D. As in Michael Floyd, the biggest bad ass to walk out of Minnesota since Trevor Laws. A 5 star prospect in every sense, Floyd kept the Irish faithful waiting on the edge of their seats for his verbal pledge.

It’s not hard to see why Floyd was one of the first four prospects to receive an offer from Notre Dame as a junior. He seems to be that special WR that can do it all. He can’t be placed in a “possession receiver” category, or as simply a “burner”. What is he? Game changer. With his soft hands, his ability to get open due to his excellent route running skills, and his football speed (he plays faster than his 40 time would suggest), Floyd will be turning heads as soon as September.

With WR being a position that had its best player in Duval Kamara, the Irish landed a phenomenal catch in Michael Floyd. I fully expect Floyd to play opposite Kamara from the jump. The pipeline from Cretin-Derham Hall to Notre Dame continues.

Grade………A+
Jersey………#81
Commitment
Michael Floyd Video

Robert Blanton
Safety
Matthews (NC) Butler

Ht: 6-foot-1
Wt: 177 lbs
Forty: 4.5 secs
Bench max: 215 pounds
GPA: 3.0
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Robert Blanton is a hard hitting defensive back that can play both safety and corner for the Irish. With Darrin Walls, Terrail Lambert and Raeshon McNeil as incumbents at corner, and Tom Zbikowski moving on to bigger and better things in the NFL, Blanton could see time right away in a back-up safety role or in Dime situations. Both Rivals and Scout have Blanton listed as a 4-star recruit, however Rivals has him listed primarily as a safety while Scout categorizes Blanton as a corner. In my estimation, his diverse skill-set makes him a better prospect than many of the athletes ranked ahead of him by these systems at their respective positions. Blanton is my second ranked defensive recruit behind only Anthony McDonald.

Subway Domer: What is it about the Carolina’s that produce such good defensive back prospects. The Irish nabbed another one in Robert Blanton. If you are a member at Irish Illustrated, than you have probably seen his father post under the name “Eman”. From everything that I have gathered, R.J. (as he is called) is a very down to earth kid that will fit the “Notre Dame Man” mold. He has drawn some comparisons to Bobby Taylor because of his ability to play corner with his height.

Blanton is not flashy as opposed to a lot of defensive backs. he is a little more blue collar. He doesn’t wear gloves or have tape on his wrists. He just throws on his hard hat and plays football. He is… a football player. R.J. always seems to be around the ball and makes quick and good decisions. He has great closing speed, whether it be on a ball in the air or a runner trying to gain yardage. He could use another 10 or 12 pounds of muscle at the next level because at 177 pounds, he may not be able to tackle as well as his form allows after giving up 50 to 75 pounds to a running back.

I see Blanton as special teams role player this year as the Irish truly have depth at corner in 2008 with Lambert, Walls, McNeil, and Gray. But, he will definitely be afforded the opportunity to contribute. He is a playmaker and playmakers don’t last very long on the bench.

Grade………B+
Jersey………#12
Commitment
Robert Blanton Video

Dayne Crist
Pro-style quarterback
Sherman Oaks (CA) Notre Dame

Ht: 6-foot-5
Wt: 228 lbs
Forty: 4.66 secs
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: You heard it here first; Dayne Crist is going to be the next great Notre Dame quarterback. The kid has leadership skills that none of the other quarterbacks currently on the roster possess. His personality is more of what this team experienced under Brady Quinn and will probably be more compatible with what Head Coach Charlie Weis is used to working with. Crist won’t need to be spoon fed information and that will allow his natural leadership abilities to shine on the field. His teammates will have confidence in him because instead of looking down at his wristband and trying to envision the next play, he’ll be barking it out with verve and commanding the offense to execute. While Crist is not quite the physical specimen that Brady Quinn was, he is more physically advanced than his peers. He is a tall and solid-bodied field general that has shown major grit and toughness at the high school level. Crist has a big arm, a big body, a big brain and he will have a big career at Notre Dame too.

Subway Domer: If you would have told me last year after Clausen committed, that Notre Dame would grab the top California quarterback in 2007 as well… I would have called you a lying sack of dog shit. But, here we are now from what may be our biggest recruit for the future security of the program. We all saw what happened this year when the Irish tried to replace a 4 year starter in Brady Quinn with an average quarterback in Evan Sharpley and true freshman Jimmy Clausen. Not to mention the Demetrius Jones experiment. (Prick) It didn’t have the results that we were looking for. The offense was terrible. With Dayne Crist, the Fighting Irish have another 5 star QB recruit, but this one can be groomed to take over the reigns as opposed to being thrown to the wolves.

Crist has been getting a lot of Brady Quinn comparisons. He should. After playing at Notre Dame High School (same uniforms as the mid-nineties Fighting Irish) and wearing the #10 jersey, those comparisons could stop. But he also has the size and arm strength that made Quinn a legend. Crist will probably not get as muscular as Quinn (who could out lift offensive lineman) but he should be a little more mobile in and out of the pocket. He has had some knocks on his accuracy, but after watching him at the Army All-American game, I am not going to complain and critique him just yet.

While some want to peg Crist as a pusher for playing time right away in 2008, they are just trying to add more hype. Unlike Jimmy, Dayne will not be an early enrollee and be able to get adjusted as quickly. That is not to say that he doesn’t have the ability to do just that, just… I don’t think it is very likely this year. He should provide good competition in 2009 and then who knows. I think it is a safe bet, that barring injuries, Crist will not see the field this year and take a red-shirt. That would give him 2 or even 3 years (if Clausen leaves early) at the helm. And that is how a program should be using their quarterbacks.

Grade………A+
Jersey………#10
Commitment
Dayne Crist Video

Sean Cwynar
Defensive tackle/Defensive end
Woodstock (IL) Marian Central Catholic

Ht: 6-foot-4
Wt: 284 lbs
Bench max: 385 pounds
Squat max: 490 pounds
GPA: 4.2
ACT: 27
Class: 2008 (HS – December Grad)

Mike Lurie: When you think of incoming recruits who are “Notre Dame through and through”, Cwynar has to be one of the first names that come to mind. Sean committed to the Irish back in March and hasn’t wavered in his decision since. He, like Mike Golic’s kid Mike Jr., is one of those guys who probably never had a doubt where he would be playing his college ball and that is a major plus in the dedication department if you ask me. On top of having the character that Notre Dame looks for, Cwynar has the measurables as well. The 6-foot-4, 284-pound defensive lineman will be a sight for sore eyes on a defensive line unit that is hurting after the loss of Derrell Hand (spinal condition), the defection of Omar Hunter (Florida) and the question marks surrounding Pat Kuntz (academics). At a time when Notre Dame needs all the help they can get across the defensive line, they will be getting it in the form of one of the best available defensive ends of the incoming class.

Subway Domer: Hell yes. A defensive tackle. This was a huge grab for the Irish way back in March. Sean Cwynar was the first defensive lineman to commit for the Irish, and started a nice trend this year of grabbing top defensive recruits to go along with Charlie’s offensive players. It also helped cement the pipeline of Illinois talent coming into South Bend. And what a talent Cwynar is, he was named Mr. Football for the state of Illinois in 2007.

For being a huge guy, Sean possesses great foot speed and a non-stop motor. He can be very overpowering at times and chases down plays from the other side with good speed. His size alone helps him in being an excellent run stopper, but he also has the ability to use technique to get around blockers and rush the quarterback. Sean could use a little more quickness off the snap, but that is something that can be corrected in a conditioning program at the college level.

Sean is an early enrollee for Notre Dame this year and is on campus right now. Thank God. With the rash of D-Line problems the Irish are having, he will have a chance to start to insert himself into a rotation immediately. What isn’t for certain, is if Sean grows more into a nose tackle or a strong side defensive end in a 3-4. Either way, what is for certain, is that Sean should help the Irish with depth and minutes his freshman year.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#98 (Already requested)
Commitment
Sean Cwynar Video

Kyle Rudolph
Tight end
Cincinnati (OH) Elder

Ht: 6-foot-6
Wt: 229 lbs
Forty: 4.6 secs
GPA: 3.4
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Notre Dame has a handful of incoming recruits that are among the top in their class at their respective positions, but the Irish only have one recruit that is the consensus top player at his position by both of the major recruit ranking sources and that player is Kyle Rudolph.

Notre Dame might not be the official “Tight End U”, but they do have a long tradition of excellent tight ends, and Rudolph is going to help continue that tradition. An outstanding athlete who also ranks among the premier basketball players in the state of Ohio, Rudolph has the size and the athletic prowess to pick up right where John Carlson left off. And with the current question marks surrounding Will Yeatman, the timing of his arrival could not be better.

Subway Domer: Of all the tight ends to come to Notre Dame in the past years, none may be as impressive as Kyle Rudolph should be when he finishes his career with the Irish. This 5 star recruit has that much potential.

One of the biggest things that stick out about Kyle is his size. A good basketball player, Rudolph is 6’7″ and although he is 230 pounds he could add to his weight around 30 more pounds. Great hands and he run blocks extremely well. The #1 tight end in the nation is right. Kyle is very athletic and adds to an already good TE combo at ND.

With Will Yeatman and Mike Ragone retuning for the Irish, Kyle will have some making up to do if he wants a crack at the depth chart. He can, and should, see some valuable time as a freshman. Weis likes to use multiple formation sets and one of those variations is a 3-TE set. There is where Kyle will step in and help out. Also, don’t be surprised to see Rudolph in the red zone and goal-line situations as well. His size demands it.

Grade………A+
Jersey………#86
Commitment
Kyle Rudolph Video

Brandon Newman
Defensive tackle
Louisville (KY) Pleasure Ridge Park

Ht: 6-foot-1
Wt: 300 lbs
Forty: 5.09 secs
Bench max: 350 pounds
Bench reps: 17
Squat max: 600 pounds
Shuttle: 5.03 secs
GPA: 3.9
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Brandon Newman is Brian Smith… okay, well he’s not actually Brian Smith, but there are some interesting parallels between the two players that should give Notre Dame fans reason for optimism. Last year, when the country’s No. 1 strong side linebacker recruit Chris Donald picked Tennessee over Notre Dame, Charlie Weis and Corwin Brown made a late play for serviceable 3-star recruit Brian Smith. Nobody actually thought Smith was a “replacement” for Donald, but he did make the loss a little less painful. This year, Omar Hunter was Notre Dame’s Chris Donald and Brandon Newman is their Brian Smith, and don’t be shocked if the results are much of the same. While Donald warmed the pine for Tennessee, Brian Smith was making an immediate impact for the Irish and terrorizing opposing offenses off the edge. If I was a betting man, my money would be on Brandon Newman as a player who will leave Irish fans scratching their heads and saying “Omar who?” in 2 years. Of course Ian Williams will guarantee that Newman doesn’t have to get thrown in the fire in his freshman season, but it’s nice to know that Notre Dame has an heir apparent to the nose tackle spot currently held by Williams.

Subway Domer: We needed that. That’s what I thought when Brandon Newman gave his verbal commitment to the Fighting Irish back in May. A big, big boy to hunker down in the trenches at the NT position. Brandon is the player we need at a position of need. This 4 star prospect is already a fan favorite, and should excel in Brown’s 3-4 scheme.

The size of Newman is the first thing you notice. He looks fat. But that is all part of the ruse. He is very athletic and fires off the ball quickly and with a lot of power and determination. He does need some development with his technique. In HS he could over power most any opponent. At the next level, that could prove to be a little rough if he relies only on brute strength.

Fresh bodies. That is the key to a really strong defensive line. The ability to rotate in talent and not skip a beat. This is how you can dominate an opposing offensive line. I fully expect Brandon to be part of the rotation with Ian Williams next year. What is a weakness this spring, could develop into a strength this fall.

Grade………B+
Jersey………#92
Commitment

Braxton Cave
Center
Mishawaka (IN) Penn

Ht: 6-foot-4
Wt: 295 lbs
Forty: 5.09 secs
Bench max: 405 pounds
Vertical: 28 inches
Shuttle: 4.68 secs
GPA: 3.0
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: First of all, there is nothing better than gaining a local recruit that is a die-hard Notre Dame fan as well as a magnificent player. Cave is that kid. the local Granger product is blue and gold through and through and has been since he was a kid. There is perhaps no other player more daffy for Notre Dame than Cave.You can basically sum Braxton Cave up with one quote; “Everybody’s going to have a bad season sooner or later and I’m kind of glad it happened now, because all of my friends are giving me crap about it,” Cave said. “But I can’t wait until I’m there and we’re making stuff happen. Especially with this recruiting class we’re bringing in, it’s going to be unbelievable.” ((ESPN)

The kid gets it on every level. Initially, I would have ranked the mammoth Trevor Robinson ahead of Cave, but then Braxton dominated Omar Hunter in the ESPN/Under Armour All American game and the final piece of the puzzle was in place. A local kid who bleeds green, manhandles “arguably the best high school nose tackle in the country” in the biggest game, on the biggest stage of his life and fills an apparent weakness on the current Irish roster? Yeah… where do I sign up? He looks the part and he plays the part. As certain as I am that Anthony McDonald is going to be the future heart and soul of the Irish defense, that’s how sure I am that Braxton Cave is going to be the future anchor of the Irish trenches.

Subway Domer: That’s a great name. That was my first reaction. Then I watched his game film. My jaw hit the floor as I was seeing a clone of a player I loved. Braxton Cave is…Jeff Faine Jr. Nasty and tough. Notre Dame needed to add depth to a unit that is still recovering from the Willingham years. Cave committed to the Fighting Irish in March, and has been the programs top recruiter after Corwin Brown. The Cave family has lodged a few ND prospects and they have all committed.

Cave is a dominating force on the gridiron. He has a throwback style of just drive blocking the snot out of an opposing defensive lineman. When he gets to the next level, he locks up on a linebacker or safety and puts them out as well. During the ESPN All-American game, he showed that he could pass block almost as well as he run blocks. His aggressive nature can put him in a bind at times, but his quick feet and athleticism quickly turns the table on the opposing defender.
I really see Cave as a true center. He has the ability to play guard, but his talents truly lie with anchoring down the O-Line. With Dan Wenger more than likely starting at center this year and in 2009 as well, Cave will have time to develop his technique and improve on his already dominating strength. That isn’t to say that he couldn’t start at center as early as next year however. He could turn into a really great player by the time he leaves ND.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#73
Commitment

Steve Filer
Inside linebacker
Chicago (IL) Mt. Carmel

Ht: 6-foot-3
Wt: 220 lbs
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Filer is an Army All-American that turned down both Michigan and Ohio State when he committed to the Irish back in July, so I like this kid already. He’s plays about 20 pounds heavier than he is, yet he has the most fluid hips of any of the incoming linebackers. The Chicago prep star was one of the first to commit to Notre Dame and received his schollie on the first day of September. In other words, Filer (like most of the incoming recruits) is Notre Dame through and through. Take a look at THIS article in The Southtown Star where Filer mentions keeping the Notre Dame fight song on his mp3 player. Loyalty to the program seems to be a running theme this year.

The situation is simple. Joe Brockington and Anthony Vernaglia are gone, Mo Crum will return for his 5th year and be gone in 2009 and Toryan Smith is the only other guy on the team with some starting experience in the middle. If Smith doesn’t take the next step in a big way while playing next to Crum in 2008, the door will be wide open for Filer to step through. Playing next to McDonald, Filer will ensure that the middle of the Irish defense is solid for years to come.

Subway Domer: The new 3-4 personnel defense that Corwin Brown brought with him to Notre Dame is designed, amongst other things, to play to the strength of your players and to strike at the opponents weaknesses. When Steve Filer committed verbally to the Fighting Irish back in July, he helped solidify the master plan. This was one of the must gets for the Irish, but contrary to a lot of fans beliefs, Filer was not a guaranteed commit. Steve looked around at Michigan and Ohio State and at one point, he had the Skunkbears as his number 1 school.The Irish not only got a true superstar in waiting, but they also helped themselves in cementing a pipeline from the talent rich Chicago area.

Filer is a very physical linebacker, but what makes him so dangerous is his ability to run sideline to sideline with speed and really uses his hips well in changing direction. The best thing about Filer is when he hits a ball carrier, that SOB goes down. He may be the most physical player on the defensive side of the ball that ND has landed in quite some time. The main weakness that Steve needs to work on is his pass protection. This is almost always the case with ILB’s coming out of HS, so no surprise here.

There has been talk of Filer playing the outside because of his speed, but I believe he will stay put on the inside. Look for a push for playing time right away. At the very least I expect Filer to work into a rotation. Like Brian Smith and Kerry Neal, Filer will improve as the season wears on and Filer will have much better coaching to start off with in Tenuta. We are talking about a true stud.

Grade………A
Jersey………#46
Commitment
Steve Filer Video

Jonas Gray
Running back
Detroit (MI) Country Day

Ht: 5-foot-10
Wt: 213 lbs
Forty: 4.44 secs
Bench max: 295 pounds
Bench reps: 19
Squat max: 430 pounds
Vertical: 31 inches
Shuttle: 4.24 secs
GPA: 3.2
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: The only thing possibly tempering the excitement surrounding Jonas Gray is the bevy of current talent at the running back position for Notre Dame. If this was any other season and the Irish didn’t boast the current stable of backs, there would undoubtedly be a large contingent of Irish fans calling for Gray to be “the guy” in 2008. If Darius Walker had remained in South Bend for another season and Robert Hughes and James Aldridge were unknowns to us right now, there would unquestionably be those wanting to throw Gray in the fire. And so his arrival comes at a good time. There will be no pressure to do anything in his freshman year.

Ultimately though, it’s hard to not get a little bit giddy about his arrival. When I watch film of Gray, I see a kid that runs harder and has better field vision than Darrell Scott, Dontavious Jackson, Jermie Calhoun and Ryan Williams. When I watch interviews of Gray, I see a person that clearly has a pedigree and character toughness that few of his peers have. It’s yet another example of an incoming player that fits with Notre Dame’s image.

Recruit rankings are a funny thing though. I often wonder how many of Rival’s and Scout’s final rankings are genuine and how many selections reflect the two company’s inherent need to be unique and set themselves apart from each other. Rivals has Gray ranked as the 5th best running back in the nation while Scout has him ranked at No. 21. Then again, they have several other players at the running back position that are ranked as many as 35 spots higher or lower. And that’s the problem with the ranking services. Rivals, Scout, Tom Lemming and the ESPN 150 all give you a great place to start forming an opinion, but in the end, they’re just another opinion. I’ve looked at the film on about forty high school running backs and the two players that stick out the most to me are Ryan Williams and Jonas Gray. I would feel that way even if he wasn’t coming to South Bend.

Subway Domer: Think back to 2005 for a minute. The starting RB was Darius Walker with his main backup being Travis Thomas. After Thomas (who played better at RB in 2005 than at any time in his carreer) there was almost no one else behind him on the depth chart. Jenkins, Hoskins, and Jabbie. Those names are not striking fear in the hearts of anyone. ND has gone back to the days of Holtz and are landing top ranked talent at RB once again. Jonas Gray is another one of those top ranked guys to go along with Hughes, Allen, and Aldridge. That’s one hell of a depth chart. Gray originally committed to Nebraska, but still was wanting an offer from ND. Once the Nebraska situation got ridiculous, Gray decommitted from Nebraska, received an offer from ND, and then committed.Since then he has been one of the most outspoken characters of this recruiting class.

Jonas is a very compact power running back. He has awesome explosion and shows quick feet once he has the ball. He moves well in traffic and has that lean that all backs need. Always falling forward. He has good speed for being a power back and will put a move on a defender in the open field if needed.

There is no way of knowing for certain how Gray will line up on the depth chart until he gets to South Bend. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, but so does Allen. He runs with good power, but so does Hughes. He is a lot more like Aldridge, but hasn’t had that nagging injury that James has had for the past 2 years. What will set Jonas back a bit from the pack, is his pass blocking ability. Picking up blitzes will be extremly important for any Irish back and Gray may have a year to go on that front.

Grade………B+
Jersey………#26 (My Number)
Commitment
Jonas Gray Video

Dan McCarthy
Safety
Youngstown (OH) Cardinal Mooney

Ht: 6-foot-2
Wt: 190 lbs
Forty: 4.5 secs
Bench max: 300 pounds
Squat max: 435 pounds
GPA: 3.8
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: McCarthy is an athlete in every sense of the word. Before his senior season was cut short by a neck injury, McCarthy passed for 425 yards and six touchdowns, rushed 154 times for 1,219 yards (7.9 average) and 15 scores, and made 47 tackles (29 solo, 18 assist) with five picks. The younger brother of junior safety Kyle McCarthy, Dan is the “talented one”… that’s not taking anything away from Kyle, it speaking to just how talented Danny is. Fortunately, the younger McCarthy will have some time to let the neck fully heal as a red-shirt in his first year at ND.

Subway Domer: There was a lot of excitement built up for the news conference that Danny held to announce his verbal commitment. I remember thinking that there should be NO way we lose the brother of a current player. But, even so, I was worried that in state power Ohio State was recruiting Dan just as hard. My slight worries were washed away after watching the commitment and then seeing how happy he was and how happy his family was to make Notre Dame the choice.

As a safety, Dan possesses all of the tools needed to be successful at the collegiate level. His size and excellent speed help out, but he also has great athleticism. He finds ways to make plays. Besides the obvious pass coverage skills, Dan is a very aggressive tackler and has the capability to become a very good blitzer.

Tragedy struck Danny in the Ohio HS State Playoffs with a major injury. Had that not happened, I would have totally expected him to be a major contributor on special teams and help our defensive backfield out in terms of depth. Doctors are positive in his recovery and he will most certainly use this year as a redshirt year. I think Danny will make a great comeback, but it may not surface for another several years. Good luck to him and keep watching for him.

Grade………B+
Jersey………#15
Commitment

Lane Clelland
Offensive tackle
Owings Mills (MD) McDonogh

Ht: 6-foot-5
Wt: 270 lbs
Squat max: 525 pounds
GPA: 2.6
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Lane Clelland often gets lost in the mix behind Trevor Robinson and Braxton Cave, but the fact of the matter is that Clelland is a great acquisition in his own right. While Cave and Robinson are both considered top prospects due to their size, strength and drive blocking ability, Clelland is just a nasty kid with a motor. Another 2-sport athlete that excelled at wrestling at McDonogh School in Maryland, Lane can use his lower body strength to explode off the snap. His technique needs work and he will need to pack a few more pounds on his lanky 6’5″ 265 lb. frame if he’s going to play Guard, but Clelland is an athlete and enjoys the gym. He shouldn’t have a problem adding weight in the proper program.

Most fans and ranking systems seem to have Clelland ranked behind both Cave and Robinson, but I like Lane as the No. 2 incoming lineman behind only Braxton Cave. Ultimately, Clelland lacks some of the size and technique that you get with the higher ranked recruits, but he makes up for it with a vicious mean streak and the ability to play more than one position on the line. At tackle, Clelland should give Charlie Weis the perfect down-field blocker for screens and flanks.

Subway Domer: Lane seemed to have come out of nowhere. He committed to the Irish in may after picking up several top offers from the likes of Michigan, and Florida State. He quietly became one of the top senior lineman in the country as was evident with his invite to San Antonio for the Army All-American game. He started at tackle in that game and impressed onlookers with his play.

This is where I disagree with Mike Lurie and a few of the recruiting services. I think Clelland has shown to have very good technique. As a former wrestler, he has total body control and his pass blocking looks to be textbook. He has excellent footwork and uses his hands very well. He is very aggressive when it comes to run blocking. But, he needs a few more pounds… about 25 to 30 of them. But that is the key, isn’t it? Can Lane keep improving after he puts on those needed pounds? I say yes. This could be the very definition of a “sleeper” recruit.

Lane will not see the field next year. I have no proof of the matter, but it is certainly my hope. This is not a knock on Lane in any sense. I truly believe that Offensive lineman are only REALLY ready to play during their true junior year, unless they are a complete freak of nature. With that said, Lane is one of the main anchors of the future.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#64
Commitment

Darius Fleming
Outside linebacker
Chicago (IL) St. Rita

Ht: 6-foot-3
Wt: 230 lbs
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: St. Rita’s Darius Fleming comprises the other half of the Illinois linebacker tandem. Slightly overshadowed by Filer, Fleming is every bit the player that his counterpart is. Darius is fast off the edge and has the ability to play strong side in the 3-4 system or with his hand on the ground. Fleming will have to compete with Kerry Neal and Brian Smith for playing time though and I don’t expect him to break the two-deep unless tragedy strikes. I do expect Fleming to play a supporting role right away though and he has the talent to do it.

Like Filer, Fleming’s weaknesses are his coverage skills. Fleming looks like he gets after the quarterback better than Filer, however that should not be confused with pursuit of the ball-carrier in the backfield, where Filer has the clear edge in my opinion. Essentially, I see both of these players on a very even scale. Both from Chicago prep, almost identical in size and build, both hard working and hard hitting linebackers that you would expect to come from that region. SI.com had both players listed in their recent Top 100 for 2008, although they did have Filer listed quite a bit higher. I would rank Fleming as the No.3 incoming linebacker for Notre Dame behind McDonald and Filer.

Subway Domer: Everybody wanted a piece of Darius Flemming. One of the top DE/OLB hybrid recruits in the country, Flemming had offers from just about everywhere early on in the recruiting proccess. He committed to the Irish early on in April, and now, no opponent of the Irish want anything to do with him on the field. Weis wanted to start locking down the Chicago area, and Flemming was a big part of doing that along with several others.

Darius looks every bit of the physical speciman to fill that hybrid role that is needed in Brown’s system. Flemming is every bit the 6’3″ 230 frame that is listed. So he has the size and after watching more film on him he has the TRUE football speed that is needed now in todays game. Which means that he is very quick and shows a lot of athleticism coming off of the edge. He can put his hand down on the line or standing up in more of a OLB role, and still do everything that is needed. This is going to be a BIG TIME player for the Irish.

When Flemming steps on campus this summer, he should make an immediate impact. Whether he can fill a starter role is still unknown, but he will definitly push those in front of him. He will see the field and play significant minutes for the Irish this year. He is that good. With so many questions on the front 7 with Kuntz, ILB spot opposite of Crum, and Justin Brown, Flemming may help answer those questions with a good summer camp.

Grade………A
Jersey………#9 (why not?)
Commitment

Trevor Robinson
Offensive guard
Omaha (NE) Elkhorn

Ht: 6-foot-6
Wt: 304 lbs
Forty: 5.2 secs
Bench max: 355 pounds
Bench reps: 22
Squat max: 480 pounds
Vertical: 28 inches
Shuttle: 4.67 secs
GPA: 3.92
ACT: 28
Class: 2008 (HS – December Grad)

Mike Lurie: A first team All American by USA Today, Robinson is usually the name that comes to mind when fans think of the “top-rated” offensive lineman in this Irish class. Robinson was ranked by Rivals as the No.37 recruit in the country and the top recruit at his position, they have him ranked as a high 4-star talent. I have him ranked 3rd of the incoming Irish recruits behind Cave and Clelland. Of course, it’s worth noting that these are three different positions. Cave is a true center and fills a gaping need for Notre Dame. Clelland is a pure tackle with some flexibility for where he can play. Robinson is a guard.

Initially, there were a few questions about Robinson’s “motor” and his stamina matching his physical gifts. Rivals had Robinson ranked in the Top 100, but more towards the rear of the pack. Then Robinson dispelled those concerns in the week leading up to the Army All-American game. When the final edition of the Rivals 100 came out he had climbed 37 spots in the overall rankings. Most of the available footage of Trevor features him run blocking and highlights his ability to get into the second level and stick to a linebacker. But there is very little footage of Robinson pass blocking. I would expect that pass blocking will be an area of focus for Trevor and the coaches.

Subway Domer: The recruitment of Trevor Robinson was a long and arduous process. Trevor was one of the first prospects to be offered by the Irish. After committing to Nebraska in April, Trevor re-opened his recruitment at the end of summer. It was a three horse race between Nebraska, Michigan, and Notre Dame. After a wide number of visits and a coaching legend (Tom Osbourne) coming out of retirement for a day, Trevor finally made his choice to commit to Notre Dame in December and enroll early in January. Getting a 4 star offensive lineman out of Husker Nation is almost unheard of in football recruiting. However, Weis and the staff did an unbelievable job in recruiting Trevor and bringing his mammoth body to South Bend.

Robinson is an unbelievably strong lineman. His power and explosion are true strenghts and has this “nasty” streak that Weis keeps looking for in his big uglies. In HS Trevor could rely on this power and strength to dominate opponents and put them on their ass. This will translate well into the college game, but he has to work on his technique, particularly in his pass blocking skills. With Trevor coming in early and participating in Spring Ball, he will be ahead of the game come summer camp.

A lot of fans, and even recruiting experts, think that Robinson can come in and start right away. While he will have good experience with spring practice, he is still going to be only a freshman. Offensive lineman typically do not do much as a freshman. That isn’t to say that he won’t or can’t start in 2008, but I think it is unlikely. What he will do however, is become a force in the interior early in his carrer.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#78 (Already requested)
Commitment

Jamoris Slaughter
Safety
Stone Mountain (GA) Tucker

Ht: 6-foot-1
Wt: 185 lbs
Forty: 4.5 secs
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: How fitting is it that Jamoris’ last name is “slaughter”? When I watch film of this kid, I see a player that looks like Greg Blue formerly of Georgia or Roman Harper formerly of Alabama. To say that Slaughter can lay the wood is an understatement. He builds the woodshed then takes you behind it, that’s how much lumber he lays. He’s got a safety mentality but defensive back hawking skills. It’s going to be hard to keep this guy from becoming a fan favorite with his smack-laying skills and a name like Slaughter, it’s virtually inevitable that Jamoris will become a huge fan favorite.

Jamoris still needs to work on coverage technique if he wants to fit into what Charlie Weis and Corwin Brown are trying to do with the defense. Coach Weis mentioned during the signing day presser that he went after two safety/corner type players in Blanton and Slaughter and he got both of them. Blanton is not the hitter that Slaughter is, but he is the better cornerback and the all-around player. Slaughter on the other hand can lay the wood and makes a better safety, but he needs to work on coverage technique.

Subway Domer: Georgia, Georgiaaaaa. I love kids from Georgia.(Omar Hunter excluded) Love them! The Irish landed themselves a real gem from the red clay state in Slaughter. The 4 star recruit is a brutal hitter as described by Mike. Brutal! Jamoris may be overshadowed this year because if some of the other commitments being a little more visable, but he really may become the brightest star in the sky. The Irish beat out the likes of LSU, Georgia, and Oklahoma for his signature. These are defensive powers and proves just how high Slaughter is rated amongst the elite defensive teams.

Slaughter has explosive closing speed that helps him kick ass and make plays on the ball in the air. His size is a great attribute. Think Bobby Taylor. Slaughter can play safety or corner and not skip a beat. One of the best things about Slaughter is that he makes quick decisions and explodes on that decision. That is so very important for a defensive back. It will be really interesting what role he does play for the Fighting Irish, but a major role it will be.

With the good depth in the secondary that Notre Dame has right now, Slaughter may not see a starting role until his junior year. But don’t expect a red shirt year from Jamoris. Weis will most decididly use Slaughter on special teams because of his physical play. Watch for him in 2008 on those special teams. He will make an impact.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#17
Commitment

John Goodman
Wide Receiver
Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Dwenger

Ht: 6-foot-4
Wt: 192 lbs
Forty: 4.5 secs
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: It’s difficult to get a good read on Goodman because he played quarterback at Bishop Dwenger and was then recruited as a receiver, but you get the feeling that he is an absolute playmaker at any position. He’s an athlete that evokes memories of another former Indiana receiver that played for the blue and gold. In fact, Charlie Weis began to glow as he offered his thoughts on Goodman during the presser. In comparing Goodman to Samardzija, Weis described the similarities as “uncanny” and said that “it’s like he’s taking lessons” when discussing his mannerisms. I think a lot of fans thought that Robby Parris was going to be the next coming of Jeff Samardzija. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that quickly, after all, guys like Jeff Samardzija don’t come along every day. Goodman however might just be a clone. His performance at the Army All-America game was proof that he can excel at the wide receiver position against the best of his age group.

Subway Domer: I was born in Fort Wayne and have lived within the Fort Wayne area (Hicksville, Ohio is like a redneck suberb) for most of my life except for a 2 year stint living next door to that whore Ann Arbor in Ypsilanti. I love Fort Wayne kids and have been disappointed that ND rarely gets talent from the Fort even though those athletes have gone on to do a lot of good things at other programs. John was a no brainer though. I have watched Goodman play in person and the respect he demanded from other teams because of his athleticism is uncanny. John was offered in March and jumped on board right away. ND is Goodman’s dream school and his dream came true.

Versitile. During John’s senior year, he was a starter on: defense (S), offense (QB during Sr. year & WR his Jr. year), kick return, punt return, and was the holder on field goals. A jack of all trades he may be, but WR is where he really shines. He runs good, sharp routes and has tremendous speed with his pads on. He goes into traffic like a warrior and has the leaping ability to go up over defenders as well as run past them.He isn’t really a glider and looks like he has a bit of the crazy legs as he weaves in and out of traffic. He needs to have better ball handling skills. Tuck that baby away. The Samardzija comparisons are legit, but he is still a few years away from evolving into that mold.

There is a long line for playing time at WR in South Bend. As I just mentioned before, Goodman is still 2 years away from really making an impact at the WR position. But, due to John’s athleticism, he may see some type of action on special teams. The huge brain of Weis is swimming with ideas on how to use Goodman. Expect, if John doesn’t redshirt, Weis to use him in some trick play action.

Grade………B+
Jersey………#88
Commitment
John Goodman Video

David Posluszny
Outside linebacker
Aliquippa (PA) Hopewell

Ht: 6-foot-0 (Event)
Wt: 206 lbs
Forty: 4.62 secs
Bench max: 300 pounds
Squat max: 360 pounds
Vertical: 25 inches
GPA: 3.5
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Posluszny definitely has the right bloodline. Like most siblings of high recognition players, there is no doubt that Posluszny got his foot in the door in part because of brother Paul’s accomplishments at “linebacker-U”. But don’t underestimate the impact that Posluszny will have on the future of the Notre Dame linebacking corp.

David has good Closing speed, good work ethic and was labeled a “rocked up unit” by Charlie Weis during the signing day presser. Posluszny is the typical “younger brother” that gets beat up his whole life, but it has made him tougher than nails as a player. Posluszny is still a little small at 220 lbs. and has been described as a big Safety opposed to a small linebacker, but that description is inaccurate in my opinion. Posluszny is a weak-side terror in the waiting.

Subway Domer: The Poz. One of the biggest surprises this year was landing Posluszny. Much like his older brother Paul, David enters college as a 3 star prospect with out a whole lot of hype. Unlike Paul however, Notre Dame offered this Posluszny. Davis played a lot of safety in HS, but will be a weakside ILB at Notre Dame. Grabbing kids from Pennsylvania is still one of the top recruiting priorities of Weis and his staff and landed a real diamond in the rough with David.

He’s a football player. Plain and simple, this kid is hard-nosed and as tough as his brother. He tackles well and takes the ball carrier down with agression and good form. His safety days in HS will help him in pass coverage schemes in college. David just has that “it” factor when it comes to playing defense. He has a good nose for the ball, takes good angles and finishes plays. According to reports, David is already up to 220 and Weis thought he was filling out nicely.

David will have a long road to travel for playing time right away. But, following a legend isn’t easy, and he did with poise and grace. Look for a big impact on special teams. Come 2009 I expect that Poz will be very much in the mix at LB for the Irish.

Grade………B
Jersey………#37
Commitment

Deion Walker
Wide Receiver
Christchurch (VA) Christchurch School

Ht: 6-foot-4
Wt: 186 lbs
Forty: 4.43 secs
Bench max: 225 pounds
Squat max: 435 pounds
Vertical: 37 inches
Shuttle: 4.2 secs
GPA: 3.4
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Deion Walker completes a trio of receivers that all bring something different and unique to the Irish. In Michael Floyd, they are getting a complete and finished product with amazing hands. In John Goodman, they are getting an athlete that can hurt you in a lot of different ways. In Walker, they are getting a fast target with an amazing offensive awareness.

Walker is the best of this class at reading the play as it develops and adjusting his route as necessary. Once the rock is in his hands, Walker has the speed and open field skills to break it long. Deion also played quarterback, defensive back and kick returner for Christchurch, so while there are unique traits to all three of these incoming receivers, they all share a common level of athleticism. Walker was ranked as the No. 12 WR in the country by Tom Lemming. Scout ranked Deion as the No. 11 player at his position and Rivals was slightly less forgiving, ranking Walker 25th overall.

Subway Domer: The longshot. That’s what everyone thought about Deion Walker and the chances of Notre Dame Landing him. Fighting off childhood favorite, Florida State, and in state power Penn State, the irish eventually won over Deion even after a last hour push by the Nittany Lions. A 4 star prospect with 5 star potential is what Walker has been pegged as. Fair enough. Any way you look at it, this was an important pick up for the Irish as it helps establish depth and adds another potential big play maker to the corps.

He really reminds me of Rhema McKnight when McKnight came out of HS. Walker has more top end speed than Rhema, but he has that burst off of the line and good hands (pre-2006 McKnight), that is needed of the position. He may be the most athletic WR we have had landed in a long time. Walker is not as polished a WR as Floyd, but may prove to be very deadly in the slot or split out. He looks like one of those great Florida State WR’s, but will be better because of ND’s QB situation. He will need to learn to block better downfield.

Because I see Kamara and Floyd starting as the wideouts, and Grimes getting the early edge in the slot, Deion will have to really fight for playing time as a freshman. However, he will see the field and see it often I believe, especially if Golden Tate takes longer to develop into a true WR.

Grade………A
Jersey………#4 (Gray will take back #3 and Hord owns #1… for now)
Commitment
Deion Walker Video

Kapron Lewis Moore
Strongside defensive end
Weatherford (TX) Weatherford

Ht: 6-foot-4
Wt: 225 lbs
Forty: 4.75 secs
Squat max: 435 pounds
Vertical: 31 inches
GPA: 3.61
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Kapron Lewis-Moore is a late recruiting season steal for Weis and the gang. The Weatherford, Texas native had been committed to Texas A&M until Dennis Franchione was replaced by Mike Sherman. KLM then decided on Notre Dame after a successful visit to South Bend last month. Lewis-Moore wanted his decision to remain private until he announced it himself, but one of the e-vultures got their talons in it and it was all the rage leading up to NSD. Still, I have to admit as an official hater of all things Gay & M, I can’t think of a finer group of gig-line straightening bastards for it to happen to.

With a big lanky build, KLM is the type of player that has a huge ceiling of potential if he can fill out his frame. In watching his highlight reel, you see a kid that fights through traffic well and engulfs the ball carrier at the point of attack. Lewis-Moore is ranked as a three-star player and the No. 32 defensive end in the country by Scout. He is considered a four-star player and the No. 13 defensive end by Rivals.

Sure does beat losing three commitments down the stretch and having to completely transform the approach to recruiting.

Subway Domer: KLM is a misunderstood. Rivals has him at a 4 star and Scout put him at a 3 star. This kid is every bit deserving of a 5th star after watching his senior game film, I was blown away. Grabbing top notch talent from Texas has been really rough with Mack Brown locking the state down and LSU and Oklahoma pulling their fair share as well. However, the staff did an excellent job in convincing KLM that ND was the right fit for him. A very good steal for the Irish.
Depending on how KLM grows physically, that will determine if his hand is down or up. He has great pursuit skills and makes good plays behind the line of scrimmage. A little awkward at times, but he makes up for it with a tenacity that is needed along the front 7. He will not be out hustled.

With the depth situation on the front 7, and most importantly on the D-Line, look for KLM to make a push for a lot of minutes this fall. He should be an impact player no later than his So. year.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#89
Commitment

Mike Golic
Offensive center
West Hartford (CT) Northwest Catholic

Ht: 6-foot-5
Wt: 260 lbs
Forty: 5.1 secs
Bench max: 315 pounds
Squat max: 425 pounds
GPA: 4.0
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Mike Golic Jr. is another incoming player that brings high marks in the classroom as well as on the football field. A positive personality that should quickly become a vocal leader for the Irish, it was all but certain that Golic would be among the first to verbally commit to Notre Dame. He was ranked a 3-star recruit by most of the high profile recruiting outlets.

Golic’s strengths are his footwork and a motor that doesn’t quit. He will have to refine his technique at the next level though and won’t be able to rely on a physical advantage over his opponent. Golic will also need to pack on some more weight, but that shouldn’t be a problem in South Bend. I consider Golic to be the No.4 incoming O-lineman in a very solid crop. I won’t expect to see him log any meaningful time in the next two seasons, however that timeline could accelerate if the current group doesn’t quickly show improvement over their performance at the end of last season.

Subway Domer: I love legacies. It’s kind of like royalty. And when your last name is Golic… you are royalty at Notre Dame. Mike Jr., wasn’t just offered because of his last name but because his potential to be great. The bloodline helps, but hard work seals the deal.

Mike is coming to ND as a true center. Cave may be the center of the future at ND, but that may change and Cave could be moved to guard and Golic at center if needed in the future. He works very hard and has very good technique after the snap. He needs to load up some weight, but I imagine getting away from that diet Dad is always talking about will help. His attitude is top notch and has said he will do whatever it takes to help the team.

Want to win some cash? Bet some Irish fan that Golic will log more minutes in 2008 than Cave. If Wenger stays at center all year, Cave may not see the field and would likely redshirt. Golic is a long snapper and the Irish have a need there since Jansen is gone. So look for Golic to long snap and rack up those special teams minutes.

Grade………B-
Jersey………#52
Commitment

Ethan Johnson
Strongside defensive end
Portland (OR) Lincoln

Ht: 6-foot-4 (Events)
Wt: 266 lbs
Forty: 4.8 secs
Bench reps: 18
Vertical: 28 inches
Shuttle: 4.44 secs
GPA: 3.27
Class: 2008 (High School)

Subway Domer: Ethan Johnson popped onto the radar for the Irish staff after a summer camp at Notre Dame in 2006. The Irish liked him and he in return fell in love with the Irish. The 5 star recruit is widely hailed as the top prospect in the Pacific Northwest and had a laundry list of offers from the likes of USC, Michigan, and Oregon. We are still investigating if Willingham even knows who Johnson is. Ethan committed to the Irish in June and never waivered.

Ethan is a very physical player on the outside. He has an excellent first step off the snap and can use various moves to not only overpower a defender, but move around him as well. He is coming off of a disasterous knee injury that cut his senior early, but he looks to be fully healed when he arrives at Notre Dame this summer. Think about Everson Griffen, and that is what the Irish hoped to have landed in Johnson.

Notre Dame has a depth issue right now on the defensive line. Not only could Johnson come in and play a lot of minutes, but he very well might be the starter sometime during the season. A lot of experts are predicting that Johnson will take over the job sooner rather than later.

Mike Lurie: My only concern with Johnson is the knee injury he suffered late in his senior season and how that will affect his status in his freshman year. Initially, Domers were thrilled at the opportunity of getting the best player in the Pacific Northwest and a guy that could step in right away. Defensive linemen capable of playing Notre Dame’s scheme are at a premium so a polished product like Johnson was exactly what the doctor ordered. His status might have changed after the injury though, and while most reports indicate that Johnson will be 100% in the spring, there are still questions surrounding the details of the injury. There’s no doubt that Ethan is going to be a dominant player for Notre Dame at some point though, and while the timing is still up in the air, his capabilities are not. He was sought after by the likes of Michigan and USC, so you know he’s a gamer. He’s a consensus 4-star player with measurables that are off the chart, but he also has outstanding technique and feel for the game. The combination of size and skill make Johnson the perfect polished product for Notre Dame’s biggest area of need. That, normally, would be a recipe for early playing time. Unfortunately, the injury leaves some question about whether that will happen. Whether it happens sooner or later, Johnson is going to be a game-breaker for the Irish.

Grade………A+
Jersey………#99
Commitment

Joseph Fauria
Tight end
Encino (CA) Crespi

Ht: 6-foot-8 (Events)
Wt: 250 lbs
Forty: 4.75 secs
Bench max: 250 pounds
Squat max: 360 pounds
Vertical: 30 inches
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: If Joseph Fauria is even half the athlete that his uncle (Christian Fauria) is, than he should fit in nicely with Rudolph in future Irish 2-Tight End sets. Fauria’s size is impressive and he should be able to provide a blocking presence. If you consider the recent events surrounding Will Yeatman, Fauria’s arrival could not have come at a better time. He won’t be the deep threat that Mike Ragone is, but he will provide a more physical element and prove to be an extreme asset in short yardage situations. Charlie Weis has had a good recruiting run on tight ends. If you count Konrad Reuland, Weis has nailed down two 5-stars, a 4-star and a 3-star over the last three years. Fauria will make another 4-star in that stable. Unfortunately, Reuland and Yeatman will likely go down as losses, but with the addition of guy’s like Rudolph and Fauria, the tight end position looks solid for years to come.

Subway Domer: That’s one big Muchacho. That is what Weis was thinking when he first met Fauria. His commitment in April less than a month after Rudolph committed, sent a message that ND is truly becoming the place to be for top tight ends. Joseph is a 4 star prospect with NFL bloodlines being former Pro TE Christian Fauria’s nephew.

Can I say big again? That’s what this guy is without a doubt. The size is great for a tight end, but he has that basketball athleticism that makes him more like Gonzalez and less like Lurch. He blocks very well and really seems to enjoy pancaking his opponent. He should develop into a good redzone/goaline threat.

Along with the aformentioned Rudolph, Fauria will se some major playing time this year and could really rack up the minutes if Yeatman is unable to return.

Grade………A-
Jersey………#85
Commitment

Hafis Williams
Defensive tackle
Elizabeth (NJ) Elizabeth

Ht: 6-foot-3
Wt: 285 lbs
Bench max: 340 pounds
Squat max: 405 pounds
GPA: 3.3
Class: 2008 (High School)

Mike Lurie: Hafis who? No just kidding, but I can not honestly offer an opinion Williams that could even remotely be considered genuine or accurate. I know nothing more about Hafis than the fact that he is a Hoss and Charlie Weis really likes his coach at Elizabeth, NJ. Every college coach has his own unique brand of connections. Sometimes those connections bring about the occasional obscure player. Sometimes that obscure name turns out to be a diamond in the rough that nobody would have known about. I’m willing to put my faith in Charlie on this one.

Subway Domer: Little has been said about Hafis Williams, because, little is known. Hafis committed to the Irish in May and is ranked as 3 star prospect.

Once signing day came along, I finally saw some real footage of the BEAST known as Hafis. He plays large. Meaning: he uses his pure power and strength to bull rush opponents and knocking them back. He really needs some technique work, but shows hints of greatness with his size and power. He looks quick off the snap on some plays, and then he may take a little break. He will only get bigger and stronger as his college years roll on, and will be used as a good short yardage people plower.

Given our shortage on the Defensive line, it wouldn’t suprise me if Hafis saw some action as a freshman. However, I think that the “diamond in the rough” tag is deserving and he will need some work before he can make a significant impact.

Grade………C
Jersey………Yes… I mean #79
Commitment

Nate Montana
Quarterback
Concord (CA) De La Salle

Ht: 6-foot-5
Wt: 185 lbs
Class: 2008

Mike Lurie: I don’t exactly know what to expect from the son of this great Notre Dame Legend, but if he’s got the last name Montana, then I am willing to gamble on him. A leg injury sidelined Montana for his sophomore season of high school. The following year, Montana transferred to California powerhouse De La Salle High School in Concord. The coaches there weren’t exactly ready to throw him in based solely on name recognition and urged him to focus on basketball. He spent his senior season directing the scouting squad and acting as a 3rd string quarterback for the team that won the California State Championship. Still, the name Montana and the kid’s measurables have some experts saying that he is not your typical mid-major player. Charlie Weis was willing to take a chance on him and I’m thrilled that we have a Montana on the team again.

Subway Domer: Nate is coming to ND as a preferred walk-on, but his blood demands respect. I love legacies. Mike has pretty much summed it all up with Nate, except I will note that De La Salle was an option team anyways.

Grade………I
Jersey………#3 (Why not? Gray is a defensive player)

All in all, this was a great class as was evident by the team rankings:

  • Lemming #2
  • Scout.com #2
  • Rivals.com #2

Of course there were some misses in this years recruiting efforts, but that is the case every year with almost every program. This class should be the tipping point for the Irish in finally getting top talent on the depth chart at every position from top to bottom.

Look for The State of Recruiting to come out soon, and I will have a little bit more to say about this class in the near future.

GO IRISH!!!

The Subway Domer

About The Subway Domer

Warlord and Emperor of the Subway Alumni... also, I do this "dad" thing pretty damn well.

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