(UHND.com) – Arrelious Benn, as suspected by most recruiting experts, made Illinois the college of his choice on Thursday night, and surprisingly the world didn’t end for the Notre Dame football program who was once thought to be a lock in the Benn sweepstakes. Who knew?
A couple weeks ago reports started surfacing that not only were the Irish slipping with Benn, but they were falling to the back of the pack. Whether it was the lure of being the proverbial “big fish in a small pond” or the chance to play with some of his buddies from the DC area, it really doesn’t matter to Notre Dame anymore. Benn is officially off the board and the Irish must simply move on.
Don’t get me wrong, the loss of Benn is big for the Irish as he was one of the top recruits on Notre Dame’s board from day one. With Notre Dame once considered a lock for his services, the loss is compounded even more. Some people will say that the loss of Benn isn’t a big deal because the Irish already have Greg Little and Duval Kamara in the fold, but the fact remains that Benn was their number one receiver.
Little and Kamara do however, is fill a void that the loss of Benn creates. Both Little and Kamara are top notch receiver in their own right and unlike in the past, the Irish’s hopes at an important position do not hinge on one prospect.
Unlike a few years back when Notre Dame lost out on Lorenzo Booker, another highly touted recruit, the Irish have other prospects already in the fold and others still in the mix to make the loss of Benn very manageable. When Notre Dame lost Booker, they were left with Jeff Jenkins and Nate Schiccatano at running back that year – neither of which cracked the two deep depth chart at running back for the Irish.
With Benn no longer an option for the Irish, look for Notre Dame to make a hard press for Golden Tate, a wide receiver out of Tennessee. Tate has a lot of speed and would be a really nice compliment to Little and Kamara. Rumors are Tate is awaiting test scores to get a Notre Dame offer. If he gets his score up, expect an offer to follow.
While the Irish will survive the loss of Benn at wide receiver, Benn’s commitment to Illinois could end up hurting the Irish at other positions. Illinois natives Martez Wilson (defensive end) and Robert Hughes (running back) are both being recruited by the Illini and the Irish. Could Benn’s commitment push these other highly touted recruits Illinois way as well?
Hughes, along with Armando Allen of Florida, are two of the most likely running back prospects to commit to the Irish. The two are completely different backs with Hughes being more of a power back with Allen being a speed back. Both would be very nice prospects for the Irish.
As we are finding out this year, it’s important to have a stable of capable running backs so you don’t have to wear out your starter as the Irish are doing this year with Darius Walker which makes Hughes a pretty important recruit for Notre Dame.
Wilson meanwhile is a difference making defensive end. Notre Dame’s depth along the defensive line isn’t great and while the Irish already have Justin Trattou, a five star recruit according to Sccout.com, and Kerry Neal, who is projecting as a defensive end, already in the fold, getting recruits like Wilson in this class will make the difference between a very good class and a great class.
It will be interesting to see if the Benn commitment does indeed affect these recruits. When Jimmy Clausen committed to Notre Dame last spring the Irish got a couple of commitments quickly, but there wasn’t a crazy domino effect like some thought there would be, but we’ll just have to wait and see how Benn’s decision effects Hughes and Wilson.