Here is a brief overview of all 20 commitments expected to sign with Notre Dame later this morning. As we learned yesterday, there could be some late drama with Chris Little and Ian Williams, but for now, he is some info on who the Irish are expected to sign.
I will have another version of this tomorrow evening after watching the Weis press conference and grabbing some quotes like I did last year.
Jimmy Clausen – Quarterback
There isn’t much to be said about Clausen that hasn’t been said already. He is simply the most highly anticipated freshmen to enroll at Notre Dame since Ron Powlus way back in 1993. Clausen is one of the most hyped high school recruits in recent memory and brings with him crazy accuracy and the ability to make all the throws. I expect Clausen to start from day one especially considering he is already enrolled at Notre Dame.
Armando Allen – Running Back
Allen is one of the most exciting recruits in this year’s class. He’s got tremendous speed and balance. He simply does not go down easy despite being a fairly small back. He is extremely dangerous in the open field and could be the home run threat this offense has been lacking. Allen’s senior year was cut short because of an injury, but he was an early enrollee and will hopefully be able to at least rejuvenate Notre Dame’s lack luster kick return unit this year.
Robert Hughes – Running Back
Hughes will be the Thunder to Allen’s lightning. Hughes is a big, bruising running back who can be an every down, Eddie George type work horse running back. Hughes is a powerful runner who won’t win many foot races, but when he runs through defenders he won’t have to. Hughes was a huge commitment for Weis and an Irish offense that has had trouble converting short yardage situations over the past two seasons. Hughes has the size to be able to come in and immediately challenge for playing time.
Duval Kamara – Wide Receiver
Kamara has all the physical tools needed to become a great wide receiver in this offense. He will come in a little rough around the edges because his high school didn’t have a very passing friendly offensive attack, but once he gets some experience in this offense under his belt… look out. Kamara’s very good at snatching the ball out of the air and timing his jumps. Kamara reminds me quite a bit of Maurice Stovall. He’s not as tall or big, but he’s still a pretty big receiver who will need some polishing.
Greg Little – Wide Receiver
I’ve haven’t made a post or written an article lately without mentioning Little and how much I’m looking forward to see him line up at receiver. Like Kamara, he will need quite a bit of polish, but his sheer athleticism makes him a very exciting prospect. Little is a natural athlete and could probably play five different positions, but he was recruited as a wide receiver. Little could be a very dangerous weapon in the Notre Dame offense.
Golden Tate – Wide Receiver
Tate brings a lot of speed to the wide receiver position. He is easily the fastest of the three Notre Dame receivers in this year’s class and could be the down field threat the Irish have been missing. It will be tough for Tate to see much time at receiver as a freshman, but his speed could land him on special teams along with Armando Allen. Tate has “take it to the house” speed and could be a weapon for the Irish on kick offs from day one. As a receiver, Tate will need some work after playing a lot of running back this year for this high school team.
Mike Ragone – Tight End
Ragone is one of the highest rated tight ends on everyone’s board. He’s got great speed for a tight end with a 4.5 40 time and he is the kind of tight end that stretch a defense. If Ragone can show he is fully recovered from an injury that caused him to miss his entire senior year, it would not surprise me to see Will Yeatmen moved to offensive tackle with Ragone securing the 3rd tight end spot.
Matt Romine – Offensive Line
There’s isn’t a whole lot not to like about Romine. He was one of the most impressive offensive linemen at the All American Bowl in January. He impressed enough to be named a captain for the West Squad. He played a little big of guard in the AA game, but will be back at tackle for the Irish. He might not be as physically gifted as say Sam Young was last year, but he is still one the best OL ND has grabbed in the last few years. Romine should challenge for playing time next year.
Chris Little – Offensive Line
Rumors have popped up Tuesday that Little may end up at Georgia which would be a major shame. Little to me seems like all he needs is a coach to light a fire under his butt and I think Latina and Weis would do just that. Get him working with Reuben Mendoza in the weight room and we’d have one hell of an offensive tackle. He is a USA Today All American and could develop into a great tackle for the Irish. He wasn’t very impressive at the All American Bowl, but he was also hampered by injury. Let’s hope we are still talking about where Little fits in along the offensive line at this time tomorrow night.
Emeka Nwankwo – Offensive Line/Defensive Line
Nwankwo was originally recruited as an offensive linemen, but recently reports are he may get a look at defensive tackle first. Notre Dame pulled him out of Florida which is always nice to see. Wherever he ends up, Nwankwo is most likely going to need a year or two in the weight room. He will especially need to bulk up if he is going to get a serious look at defensive tackle. He’s got some pretty good quickness though.
Andrew Nuss – Offensive Line/Defensive Line
Like Nwankwo, Nuss may get a shot on defense first. Nuss has stated he wanted the chance to play on defense and it appears as though he will get that chance. Nuss could be actually be a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme unless he bulks up a bit which is entirely possible. I like the fact that Nuss wants to play defense. Being a good defensive lineman is a lot about attitude and it appears Nuss has that attitude.
Taylor Dever – Offensive Line
Dever got some good late offers after a slow start, but ended up picking the Irish in December. Dever’s got prototypical size for an offensive tackle at 6’6”, 300. He really come on strong during his senior season which is usually a good sign for an offensive lineman because it shows he still has a lot of room to improve. Dever could turn out to be a very good offensive lineman for the Irish.
Ian Williams – Defensive Tackle
Like Chris Little, there have been a lot of rumors about Williams changing his mind at the 11th hour, but let’s hope not. Williams is one of the most important recruits in this class because of Notre Dame’s need for defensive tackles. Williams is the only true tackle prospect in this class and for that reason let’s hope his letter of intent is signed and faxed to the Notre Dame football offices tomorrow morning.
Williams is only listed as a 3 star prospect at defensive tackle by Scout as the 36th defensive tackle in the country, but if there are 35 better tackles in the country I’d like to see them. I really liked what I’ve seen of Williams in the limited video I’ve watched. He is very quick for a defensive tackle and is extremely quick off the line. He could be a great cog in the middle of the Notre Dame defensive line if they indeed switch to a 3-4.
Kerry Neal – Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
Neal is listed as a defensive end on pretty much every website, but in a 3-4 defense, Neal might be a pass rushing outside linebacker ala Adalius Thomas from the Baltimore Ravens. Neal is also probably the most under rated recruit in this year’s class. He has some SERIOUS pass rushing ability and could be a holy terror coming after opposing quarterbacks. He played a lot of tight end in high school and has some pretty good hands which would make dropping into coverage when necessary not that big a deal for him.
This is one recruit I am really excited to see line up for the Irish, especially in a 3-4 scheme. He is probably too small (listed at 230 lbs) right now to make an immediate impact at defensive end in a traditional 4-3 defense, but he’s got the skill set that makes me think he is going to be an absolute perfect fit in a 3-4.
Brian Smith – Linebacker
Smith was a very late addition to this class after receiving an offer from the Irish in the middle of January. It’s not really clear where he’ll fit in at linebacker – whether its as on the inside or on the outside as a pass rushing outside linebacker. Smith is listed at 225 pounds and could easily add the size to play in the middle and be a pretty good run stuffing linebacker, but he also likes the idea of lining up on the outside and getting after the quarterback. Either way, this seems like a kid who really wants to be at Notre Dame and was an excellent late addition. Smith’s father Chris was a fullback for the Irish in the early 80’s.
Aaron Nagel – Linebacker
Nagel was originally going to be an outside linebacker in a 4-3, but in a 3-4, he is probably going to add some weight and move inside. Nagel had a nice week of practice at the All American Bowl and turn some heads in the process. Playing linebacker will be new to Nagel though who played safety and running back in high school. Notre Dame has had good luck in the past turning high school running backs into linebackers (see Courtney Watson and Anthony Denman) and Nagel should continue that success for the Irish.
Steve Paskorz – Linebacker
Paskorz is another high school running back who will be making the move to defense on the college level. He’s got the speed to play on the outside, but could also end up inside if he adds some weight. He had some injuries that slowed him down the past two seasons, but prior to the injuries his senior year he was on the Rivals preliminary Top 100 last spring. Had he been completely healthy he would probably be heading into NSD with much more fan fare.
Gary Gray – Cornerback
Gray is the third early enrollee in this class and is the only corner. Gray is a big time prospect for the Irish and one of the best pure corner recruits, along with Raeshon McNeil and Darrin Walls last year, to head to Notre Dame in a while. He’s got good not great speed and is straight up pure cover corner. He doesn’t have sprinters speed, but he’s got great football speed and plays fast. Gray has the ability to see playing time next year with his early start.
Harrison Smith – Safety
Smith is one of the best safeties in the country this year with the ideal combination of size and speed you look for in a safety at 6’2”, 205, 4.45. Tom Lemming has referred to Smith as another John Lynch multiple times and that seems fairly accurate. He adjusts to the ball well in the air, is a sound tackler, and looks like he does a good job of keeping everything in front of him. He will battle with last year’s crop of safeties for playing time along the two deep.
Brandon Walker – Punter/Kicker
When it was apparent that Notre Dame would not fill out the 25 scholarship spots this year, Weis went after Walker to bring in some competition for Ryan Burkhart who did not impress much last year as a freshman. Burkhart could not win the place kicking or kickoff duties last year so Weis went out looking for a kicker and landed Walker. He’s got a pretty strong leg and the hope here is that Walker can come in and at least consistently put the ball in the end zone on kickoff’s. If he can do that, it will make his scholarship more than worth it.