February 5, 2006 // Recruiting

Walls, McNeil: A Future dynamic duo for the Irish

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Notre Dame fans were frustrated at many times last season when the Irish let games that were winnable slip away due to the opposing quarterback tearing up the weak Irish secondary. That same Notre Dame secondary was ranked 103rd in the nation last season, giving up 264 yards through the air per game. A lot of Irish fans grumbled at points during the season; What if the Irish secondary at least slowed down Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton? Stanton completed 16 of 27 passes for over 325 yards and 3 scores in the 44-41 Michigan State overtime win at Notre Dame Stadium. What if the Irish had a shut-down corner who could have swatted down Matt Leinhart’s 4th and 9 completion during the unforgettable October 15th match up between Notre Dame and then #1 ranked USC?

Fortunately for Irish fans, there will be no more what ifs starting this fall. The Irish recruited 2 of the most sought after Cornerback prospects in the country in Darrin Walls and Raeshon McNeil, who will be wearing blue and gold starting September 2nd when the Irish play Georgia Tech.

Raeshon McNeil was the first of the two corners to commit to Notre Dame. He signed his letter of intent earlier this week, and after visiting some other schools leading up to the big national signing day, he calmed a lot of Irish fan’s nerves when he made it official. McNeil is the 7th ranked cornerback in the country according to rivals.com. Cornerback is known as a position for players who shy away from contact, but McNeil is an exception to that myth. The six foot 175 pounder loves to bring the wood on opposing running backs, quarterbacks, and receivers. The University of Florida made a strong run at McNeil just days before National Signing day, but it seemed like the elite prospect had his mind made up long before the trip.

Darrin Walls comes from Pittsburgh, and is expected by many to be a top draft pick someday in the NFL. At points this season, Walls was ranked the #1 corner in the country. Like his future running mate, Walls likes to be the one dishing out punishment, not the one receiving it. Darrin is multi-talented, and also considered an elite kick returner at the High School level. He also posted decent numbers on the offensive side of the ball as well. Walls turned down scholarship offers from Florida, Penn State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia. USC also made a strong surge at the end of the recruiting process, when it was known that Walls would be Irish, but Darrin didn’t take the bait, knowing where he wanted to play for the next 4 years.

McNeil and Walls are the highest rated defensive backs recruited by Notre Dame since they got current starting corner Ambrose Wooden to commit back in 2003.

What does this all mean? It means that, among other things, Notre Dame’s defense will not be thrown on for over 260 yards per game anymore. It means that if these players live up to their hype, the offense won’t have to put up 39 points just to win the ball game.
The offense for this team, now and in the future, will be able to put up points. With offensive players in high school dying to play in a pro system in the collegiate level, Weis is the perfect choice for them. The challenge for Weis is to bring in top defensive talent to help the offense out a little bit. Who knows what this Notre Dame team could have done last season had Drew Stanton not gone off for 3 TD’s, and Matt Leinhart not completed a miraculous 4th and 9 pass. The Irish could have won both of those games, and those were the only 2 games they lost in the regular season.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Charlie Weis did a great job to bring in these two elite prospects in. It is truly great as a Notre Dame fan to have an offensive minded coach go after defensive talent so drastically.

Because of Weis, we won’t have to ask “what if we had a top corner” anymore, because once Walls and McNeil get into their comfort zone in South Bend, two of the best corners in college football could be on the same field, wearing the same uniform, and same gold helmet, every Saturday.

Questions, concerns, comments, or feedback; please contact me at Phitenphils55@aol.com I will get back to all of your e-mails.

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