November 06, 2009

2010 Recruiting Update

With the end of the season fast approaching, we're getting into what has become the vitally important "second season" of college football - the recruiting home stretch. After hosting a plethora of studly high school talent for the USC game, the Irish appear positioned to make a strong charge to National Signing Day.

(A few caveats - first, most of this news is gleaned from the various recruiting sites, including, but not limited to, Mike Frank's Irish Sports Daily (ESPN) and Irish Illustrated (Rivals); second, the rankings do not reflect the most recent update by the ESPN boys, which came out this week)




Andrew Hendrix

Scout: 4-star, #10 QB
Rivals: 4-star, # 13 QB (Pro-Style)
ESPN: 4-star, #10 QB

Tommy Rees

Scout: 3-star, #63 QB
Rivals: 3-star, #29 QB (Pro-Style)
ESPN: 3-star, #39 QB

Following the Clausen-Crist recruiting coup of 2007-2008, Weis has struggled to build any depth at this position. He aimed high in the ’09 class and chose not to take any prospects once his first few choices went elsewhere. Perhaps nervous about the depth chart, Weis’ first few targets in the ’10 class showed little interest, leaving ND scrambling a bit during the spring and summer months to fill out the position. Hendrix jumped first, choosing the Irish over his home-state Buckeyes. Coming from a storied HS program and one of the most competitive HS leagues in the nation, Hendrix will be well-prepared to provide the necessary depth in the coming years and perhaps even compete with Dayne Crist once Clausen leaves for greener pastures. Weis liked Tommy Rees enough to offer him a scholarship shortly after Rees attended a summer camp in South Bend and Rees quickly accepted. Playing in a smaller conference in Illinois, Rees amassed some impressive stats for a lousy team, but certainly appears to possess the necessary arm strength to play at the next level.

Edit: Obviously the ACL injury has made this year's QB haul even more important, and the recent news that Tommy Rees is considering early entry is welcome as the Irish may face the prospect of opening spring practice without a scholarship QB available. Hendrix is likely the answer, long-term, but Rees' experience in a pass-happy offense may allow him the possibility to get on the field first. Definitely an interesting story line to follow...


With Hendrix and Rees on board, the Irish are done at this position.

Running Back


Cameron Roberson

Scout: 3-star, #44 RB
Rivals: 4-star, #15 RB
ESPN: 3-star, #38 RB

Giovanni Bernard

Scout: 4-star, #12 RB
Rivals: 4-star, #12 RB
ESPN: 4-star, #17 RB

Roberson’s story is a great one – his grandfather was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from ND, and he and his family desperately hoped Weis would come calling with an offer. When he did, ND didn’t have to wait long to get their first back, and a big one at that. Roberson runs 6’1’’ 215 lbs. and fits the mold of the Aldridge/Hughes bruiser that Weis seems to like so much. Given Weis’ decision to experiment with the big boys at the FB position, don’t be surprised if Roberson slides into a similar role. Bernard hails from St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida (see: Sam Young, Dan Wenger, Jordan Cowart, Ben Turk), the #1 ranked HS program in the country this year. Not a serious burner, Bernard is a solid every down back with good hands out of the backfield. What he may lack in breakaway speed, Bernard more than makes up for with strong running between the tackles and some nice moves in space. He also seems to go from 0-to-top speed very quickly. A very nice 1-2 punch for the Irish as Weis continues to build a very impressive stable of RBs.


Marquis Flowers

Scout: 4-star, #13 S
Rivals: 4-star, #8 ATH
ESPN: 3-star, #30 S

Recruited as an athlete, Flowers could potentially play in the secondary as well. In fact, with Bernard's recent commitment, the Irish are likely done at RB. But if they can maintain Flowers' attention, there could certainly be room at safety. Flowers was scheduled to visit for the USC game, but the staff asked him to come back later in the season. Might that have been a turn off for the Arizona native? Michigan appears to be the only other Midwestern school he’s considering. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Flowers stay in the Pac-10.

Wide Receivers


Tai-ler Jones

Scout: 4-star, #21 WR
Rivals: 4-star, #16 WR
ESPN: 4-star, #13 WR

Bennett Jackson

Scout: 3-star, #51 WR
Rivals: 3-star, #59 WR
ESPN: 3-star, #95 WR

Daniel Smith

Scout: 4-star, #23 WR
Rivals: 3-star, #90 WR
ESPN: 3-star, #71 WR

The Irish scored a big coup over USC weekend when 4-star Irish legacy Tai-ler Jones flipped his commitment from Stanford to ND. A prototypical slot WR, Jones has great route-running ability and is very slippery in space. If he’s able to work to develop his body in the offseason, Jones could certainly be in the mix for a role in the 2010 Irish offense. Jackson has also been labeled a slot candidate and will help to provide that position with some good depth. Smith, a South Bend local and a big body, will be headed to the outside and will likely be the target of some jump balls in the future.


Kyle Prater

Scout: 5-star, #2 WR
Rivals: 5-star, #1 WR
ESPN: 4-star, #8 WR

A giant target and giant recruit, Prater is from Proviso West in Chicago. Rated the #2 overall recruit by Rivals, Prater has consistently included ND in a list of 5 or 6, and most recently was on campus for the USC on an unofficial visit. Prater is familiar with ND, and although he’s currently committed to USC, there are rumblings that he will ultimately stay closer to home, perhaps making this an Illinois-ND battle. Reports have Prater returning to campus later this year for an official visit, either during a November game, or perhaps for the banquet.

Corey Cooper

Scout: 4-star, #15 S
Rivals: 4-star, #17 S
ESPN: 3-star, #18 S

Currently committed to Illinois, Cooper has also been consistently linked to ND throughout the recruiting process. ND apparently likes him as a WR, although he plays both ways in HS and has publicly said that he could play DB in college as well. Cooper and Prater are good friends and reports have indicated that they might like to play together in college. After a recent visit for the SC game, Cooper appears to be leaning to ND, but hasn’t publicly decommitted from Illinois. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him flip in the near future.

Tight End


Alex Welch

Scout: 4-star, #3 TE
Rivals: 4-star, #12 TE
ESPN: 3-star, #12 TE

Another product of the GCL, Welch hails from Cincinnati Elder, Kyle Rudolph’s alma mater. His stock soared over the summer after receiving his ND offer. Although he has had some difficulty keeping them on campus, Weis has recruited the TE position very well indeed.


After Welch’s commitment, the Irish are likely done here. CJ Fiedorowicz was one of ND’s first offers in this class, but both parties parted ways fairly early in the process.

Offensive Line


Christian Lombard

Scout: 4-star, #1 G
Rivals: 3-star, #58 T
ESPN: 3-star, #21 T

The recruiting gurus don’t seem to know what to make of Lombard. Scout thinks he’ll be a great guard, while Rivals and ESPN think he’s an “eh” tackle. Lombard performed well at the junior combine of the Army All-American game last year where he publicly committed to the Irish. Playing tackle for his Fremd HS team in IL, Lombard has paved the way for a dominant rushing attack.


Seantrel Henderson

Scout: 5-star, #1 OT
Rivals: 5-star, #1 OT
ESPN: 5-star, #1 OT

The consensus #1 offensive lineman in the country (and #1 player overall to Rivals), Henderson is a mammoth man, and the most important uncommitted player on ND’s board. Currently attending Cretin-Derham Hall in Minnesota (Mike Floyd’s HS), Henderson was on campus for the USC game and apparently came away very impressed with the school and the atmosphere. Expect this one to come down to National Signing Day with ND’s primary competition coming from USC and OSU.

Matt James

Scout: 4-star, #11 OT
Rivals: 4-star, #7 OT
ESPN: 4-star, #14 OT

A frequent visitor to ND during the spring, summer and fall, James (from Cincinnati St. Xavier) has apparently narrowed his choices down to ND, OSU and Cincinnati with the Bearcats perhaps holding a narrow edge. James has gone silent recently, leading some to believe that ND might be out of this race.

James Stone

Scout: 4-star, #14 OT
Rivals: 4-star, #24 OT
ESPN: 4-star, #10 OT

Big prospect from SEC country. Stone also visited for the SC game and had himself a good time. This is another duel that could come down until January, with Alabama perhaps being the big competition here.

Brandon Linder

Scout: 4-star, #1 C
Rivals: 4-star, #3 C
ESPN: 4-star, #2 C

Another recruit from powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida, Linder has long been connected with ND. In fact, before Latina was let go, the Irish may have been the prohibitive favorite to land his services. But after visiting during the SC game and meeting with Verducci, it sounds like ND has positioned themselves quite well. Expect this one to come down to ND and Miami.

Arie Kouandjio

Scout: 3-star, #36 OT
Rivals: 4-star, #13 OT
ESPN: 3-star, #14 OG

A product of DeMatha in Maryland, Kouandjio has been lingering on the outskirts of the Irish recruiting world as he has yet to visit the campus. An official has been rumored however, and if ND can get the big fella on campus, they have to like their chances. Interestingly enough, the Irish basketball program might be the biggest recruiting tool for Kouandjio, as several DeMatha kids have been visiting South Bend to check out Mike Brey this fall.


The Irish have done a good job assembling some reinforcements for the offense, but there are still some HUGE targets left on the board. While landing Kyle Prater and/or Corey Cooper would be fantastic, the priority at this point has to be OL. All of the remaining OL prospects can conceivably play tackle, one of the biggest need positions for ND in the very near future. ND has set the table for Henderson, James, Stone and Linder, all of whom have already taken their official visits to South Bend. The Irish need to continue to string together wins on the field to keep these guys interested. Missing out on Prater/Cooper would be acceptable, but Weis needs to close at least 2 of the Henderson/James/Stone/Linder/Kouandjio group.

Coming this weekend - the defensive recruits...

1 comment:

Matt said...

I'm sure the recruits were impressed that we were able to give Navy such a good game...