Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Signing Day 2009

By: Nick Shepkowski
Recruiting Analyst

It seemed as if the recruiting process for Notre Dame was heading down the shoot this off season. Marlon Pollard and Nyshier Oliver have both de-committed from their verbal commitments to Notre Dame and things seemed to be quickly heading down a slippery slide this offseason. Couple that with poor showings by a few Notre Dame recruits in their post season games and the ratings for the Irish went soaring downhill.

That changed this morning. I went to bed last night thinking of anyway possible that the Irish were able to land Manti Te'o, the star linebacker from Hawaii. After researching a bit I stumbled across rumors that he had promised a commitment to Pete Carroll. Of course that was on USC message boards but I pressed on and began thinking, if he didn't commit on his final visit, then would he?

The question was answered this morning as Manti Te'o made the announcement that he is going to be a member of the University of Notre Dame this coming fall. What does this mean for Notre Dame?

Well, despite the fact the final ranking will not be as high as last season, but it shows that despite an underachieving 2008 on the field, Notre Dame is able to go into what has been a USC hot bed and take away the hottest commodity from the islands this season. Te'o, a five star recruit, chose the Fighting Irish over USC and UCLA.

With this signing the Irish will finish recruiting likely in the top 20, perhaps in the top 15 depending on which source you use. That ranking is not what is important though, what is, is the fact the Irish have to do a better job manufacturing their recruits talents into becoming better football players. We saw at times this past season that the offense was coming around until hitting a wall since halftime of the North Carolina.

This class brings in immediate help to Notre Dame's linebacking core:

Carlo Calabrese of Verona, New Jersey has played on the inside during his high school career and will in all likelyhood stay there at Notre Dame. Because of a depth chart that is finally having some actual depth at linebacker now it is hard to imagine he sees much of the field in the fall but down the road he will likely be looked upon to fill holes. Of the four, Carlo will likely see the least amount of time on the field this season.

Dan Fox of Rocky River, Ohio chose the Fighting Irish over such chasers as Pittsburgh, Stanford, and Boston College and could also be in the mix on the outside come the fall. He is listed as a four star recruit and among the top 15 outside linebackers in this years class. Fox will need one heck of a start to fall practice to get on the field since Zeke Motta has already enrolled at Notre Dame.

Zeke Motta
, a four star outside linebacker from Vero Beach, Florida could very easily be starting on the outside in the fall. Extremely athletic and quick, the hard hitter enrolled early and will be participating in spring practice. Motta could in all honesty end up being just as big of recruit as Te'o.

Manti Te'o of Honolulu comes in with much glamour but also in all likelyhood taking the spot that was filled by Maurice Crum, Jr. Te'o is said to be as good as any at sniffing out and stopping the run, something Notre Dame needs much help in as they gave up an awful 4.1 yards per carry a season ago.

Through the coming days and weeks I'll take a look at all the positions and give a breakdown of who we may hear from early in their careers and who may have the biggest impact before their Fighting Irish careers are all said and done. Here is your class of 2009:

EJ Banks, ATH, McKees Rocks, PA
Alex Bullard, OL, Brentwood, TN
Carlo Calabrese, LB, Verona, NJ
Jordan Cowart, OL, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Tyler Eifert, TE, Fort Wayne, IN
Shaquelle Evans, WR, Inglewood, CA
Dan Fox, LB, Rocky River, OH
Jake Golic, TE, West Hartford, CN
Zach Martin, OL, Indianapolis, IN
Zeke Motta, LB, Vero Beach, FL
Theo Riddick, RB, Somerville, NJ
Nick Taush, K, Dallas, TX
Manti Te'o, LB, Honolulu, HI
Ben Turk, K, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Chris Watt, OL, Glen Ellyn, IL
Cierre Wood, RB, Oxnard, CA

Good luck to all the newest Irish. I will be in the chatroom for the majority of the afternoon, feel free to stop on, say hello, ask questions and argue points with me. We'll have a good time.

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