Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Recruiting Picture Begins to Clear Up

In unsurprising news, Matt Carufel announced at the Army All-American Bowl that he will play for the Fighting Irish next season. Carufel is the 26th known verbal commitment for the Irish. Carufel is a 6'5", 280-pound lineman out of Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, the same school that produced offensive lineman Ryan Harris, tight end Marcus Freeman and fullback Rashon Powers-Neal. Unlike the previous regime, Weis is having no problem recruiting offensive linemen. Carufel is the fifth offensive lineman to commit, which is huge for the Irish because Notre Dame only has four, that's right, four offensive lineman in their freshman, sophomore and junior classes combined. There is no question that Carufel has the potential to be a special player, as evident in his participation in the Army All-American Bowl and being named as a Parade All-American.

Speaking of the Army All-American Bowl, I happened to catch some of the game (hoping Butch Lewis would put on a Notre Dame hat), and I was extremely impressed by the play of Notre Dame commitment, Rashon McNeil. He's big, he's fast, has excellent technique and he actually looks for the ball, which a lot of young corners don't do. If he can play like he did on Saturday this fall, he will see significant playing time.

Carufel's commitment wasn't the only recruiting news yesterday. Two of Notre Dame's prized targets made it known that they will playing somewhere else other than South Bend in the fall. Defensive lineman/offensive lineman Butch Lewis announced he will play at USC, and defensive lineman Gerald McCoy announced that he has narrowed his school choices to three: USC, LSU and Oklahoma. Lewis and McCoy spurring Notre Dame especially hurts considering the lack of talent and depth on the roster at the defensive line position and the lack of defensive linemen recruits (John Ryan and Kellen Wade are the only defensive lineman commitments).

With the commitment of Carufel and the loss of Lewis and McCoy, the recruiting picture becomes much more clearer. Notre Dame has two more spots left in this year's class after George West officially decided to join Chris Stewart and James Aldridge as early enrollees. Those two remaining spots could go to Sam Young, the top offensive tackle in the country, Mitch Mustain, the top quarterback in the country and the Parade Player of the Year, or Jason Kates, a solid defensive tackle out of Pennsylvania. I would be very surprised if one of the two remaining spots went to Mustain because I doubt Charlie Weis wants to have three quarterbacks in one class, especially if he wants a shot at next year at Jimmy Clausen.