Friday, February 03, 2006

Recruiting Wrap-Up

This was probably one of the most relaxing national signing days in recent memory. Usually Notre Dame is scrambling at the last minute to sign four or five players, so they have more than 10 freshman on scholarship, but this year the recruiting class was set in mid-January when uber-offensive tackle Sam Young became the finally Notre Dame verbal commitment. Here's the breakdown by position of the new members of the Fighting Irish.

QB: Zach Frazer and Demetrius Jones
HB: James Aldridge and Munir Prince
FB: Luke Schmidt
TE: Paddy Mullen and Konrad Reuland
OL: Sam Young, Eric Olsen, Chris Stewart, Dan Wenger, Bartley Webb and Matt Carufel
WR: Robby Parris, Richard Jackson, Barry Gallup and George West
DL: John Ryan and Kallen Wade
LB: Morrice Richardson and Toryan Smith
CB: Darrin Walls, Raeshon McNeil
S: Sergio Brown, Jashaad Gaines, Leonard Gordon
K: Ryan Burkhart

The first thing that strikes me about this class is that other than defensive line, Notre Dame was able to address all of its needs. They had almost zero depth on the offensive line and Charlie Weis goes out and signs 6 guys. They also needed help at quarterback with Brady Quinn graduating next season and Weis got two outstanding quarterbacks in Frazer and Jones. I especially like how these two quarterbacks are a little bit different in style with Frazer being the classic drop back passer and Jones being the dual threat guy, which gives some nice balance to the quarterback position. For anyone who has watched Notre Dame for the past two seasons, you know the secondary play has been quite bad, and Charlie Weis was able to address that by getting two of the top cornerbacks in the country and getting one of the best safeties in the country in Sergio Brown. An excellent job done by Weis and his staff. But the key for the long term success of this program is that Notre Dame is going to have put together classes like this next year, the year after that and so forth. There's no question that Weis realizes this as he's already hit the ground running with recruiting for next season, as Notre Dame has already had it's junior day.

Now let's take a look at this class by the numbers. There is 9 Gatorade State Players of the Year (Penn State and USC had the next highest with 2). There is 12 U.S. Army All-Americans. There is 5 Parade All-Americans. This class was ranked by the recruiting services anywhere from #3 (Tom Lemming) to #8 (Rivals) in the country. Yeah I guess with all those high academic standards you just can't recruit good football players to come to Notre Dame anymore.

Finally, in Blue-Gray Sky's excellent recruiting wrap-up, they pose three questions: Biggest Get, Biggest Miss and Class Sleeper. Here's my 2ยข to those three questions.

Biggest Get: Sam Young. I would like to select all six of the incoming offensive linemen, but since I can select only one, I'll select the best of the bunch, Sam Young. Notre Dame desperately needed offensive linemen and they were able to snag the best offensive tackle in the country. Young should definitely see some playing time next season and by his sophomore year he should be anchoring that offensive line.

Biggest Miss: I'm with Blue-Gray Sky on this one. Gerald McCoy, hands down. Defensive line has to be Charlie Weis's number one priority for next year's recruiting class.

Class Sleeper: George West. Games are won and loss with special teams and George West is a dynamite return man. He's lightening fast. He returned 7 kicks for touchdowns this past season (4 punts and 3 kickoffs). Along with returning kicks, I expect to see West in the backfield and line up at wide receiver. West should be Notre Dame's version of Dave Meggett. It doesn't hurt either that West is already enrolled at Notre Dame, which should give him ample opportunity to see the field often his freshman year.