Meet the Notre Dame Recruits 2007: The Offense

I did a couple posts in this format last year and they were well received so I figured I’d go with the same format this year.

Armando Allen – Running Back – (5’10”, 189 – Opa Locka, Florida)
Allen is a running back with great speed that can flat out fly. He was on multiple top 100 lists and probably would be a much higher rated back had he not broke his fibula. Weis mentioned he should be ready for spring practice, and if that’s the case, I think Allen will see the field very, very early. Allen is already a lot bigger than Munir Prince was last year and he might be the first back Notre Dame has had that could take it the distance at any given moment in a long time. As a junior he ran for 1,095 yards and 12 TDs while missing three games with an injury. He also ran a 4.38 40 yard dash at the Army All American Bowl combine last year – the fastest of any prospect there. If he can stay healthy he will be a big time play maker for Notre Dame in the running and return games.

Weis on Allen: “To get Armando up here was very, very important to us because one of the things I felt we really needed to do was bring some more team speed on the offensive side of the ball. This kid can flat out fly. He’s a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. He’s coming off a broken fibula, which made him miss this entire season. But with his rehab, it looks like he’s on schedule to be ready to go for spring ball.”

Jimmy Clausen – Quarterback – (6’3″, 207 – Westlake Village, California)
Clausen comes in with more fanfare than any other recruit in recent Notre Dame history and is almost everyone’s top rated quarterback in this year’s recruiting class. He was the USA Offensive Player of the Year, US Army All American Player of the Year, and Parade Co-Player of the Year. He is already on campus as an early enrollee which will put him right in the thick of the race for the starting quarterback position. He has never lost a game as a starting quarterback with a perfect 42-0 record with 4 straight state championships. One thing we did learn from Weis about Clausen on Wednesday is that he is not injured as it has been speculated on the internet. Rather, Weis just wants him resting his arm until the end of the month because of all the passing he did in high school. There really isn’t much more that can be said about Clausen that hasn’t been said already and in a few short months we will get to see him showcase his wares in the Blue-Gold game.

Weis on Clausen: “The things that stick to me are his touchdown interception ratio and his completion percentage. The kid last year threw 49 touchdowns versus six interceptions in 15 games. He completed just under 68% of his passes. To me, as a quarterback, production and accuracy physically are really what everyone’s judging you from. That and the fact he’s 42 0 as a starter, obviously it doesn’t get any better than that.

Taylor Dever – Offensive Lineman – (6’5″, 275 – Grass Valley, California)
Dever was a late booming offensive linemen that popped up on a lot of top program’s radars during his senior season. Weis mentioned he could play guard or tackle and considering the relative lack of depth at the guard position, its very likely he could end up on the inside of the offensive line. Dever is one of the more underrated recruits in this class for Notre Dame because he didn’t come on strong till his senior year. He ended up with offers from a couple powerhouses like Miami and Nebraksa (ok and Washington too). He moves pretty well for a big name and was justed ranked as California’s 4th best offensive tackle by The official release for Notre Dame lists Dever at 275 lbs but Weis mentioned that is closer to 290 right now which is a good sign.

Weis on Dever: “I think from what we’ve been able to view he was easily one of the best linemen coming off the West Coast. We’re really happy and fortunate to be able to get this guy. This year alone he was credited with 80 pancake blocks and 50 knock downs. I’m not the one doing the stats for the team, but I am the one watching tape. I’m really, really excited about having him.”

Robert Hughes Running Back – (5’11”, 230 – Chicago, Illinois)
Hughes is a big, bruising back who is built like a tank. He was a very important recruit for the Irish and I was generally surprised when he ended up with Notre Dame because I thought he would pick Illinois a couple weeks ago. Luckily for Notre Dame fans he picked the Irish and he is a great fit for this team and this school. He is definitely a “Notre Dame kid” and gives Notre Dame a power back like they haven’t had in years. He made numerous top 100 lists this year after running for 1,780 yards and 22 touchdowns this year. If you look at this kid, he looks more like a college senior than a high school senior. If he can pick up the offense quick enough he will be right in the mix for carries this year. He is the perfect compliment to Armando Allen and I expect Weis to use Hughes and Allen much like Sean Payton used Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush this year in New Orleans. Hughes is a work horse back who can wear down a defense and get the tough yards. He will be a major force near the goal line as well. Then just as Hughes keeps pounding away at the defense, Weis will be able to bring in Allen to burn the defense on the edges. Weis quote below about Hughes being one of his projects definitely lets us all know he has got big, big plans for Mr. Hughes.

Weis on Hughes: “I love the fact he’s a local kid from here in Chicago. This kid, because he’s a 230 pounder doesn’t mean all he can do is run from tackle to tackle. He can run inside, outside, he can run over you, make you miss. He has very, very soft hands for a guy his size. I’m taking him as one of my projects.”

Duval Kamara – Wide Receiver – (6’4″, 205 – Hoboken, New Jersey)
Kamara is pretty much a consensus top 100 player and top 10 wide receiver. He’s big and can run, and he uses his body well in the air to make the catch. He amassed a total of 125 catches for 2,696 yards and 50 touchdowns throughout his career which are pretty food numbers considering he wasn’t in a pass happy offense. His size will make him a candidate for early playing time if he catches on quickly and shows he can block well – something he was very good at in high school. I said it yesterday in my Cliff Notes blog that he reminds me a lot of Maurice Stovall and Weis echoed those sentiments today.

Weis on Kamara: He reminds me a lot of Mo, to tell you the truth, when you look at him, the way he acts, carries himself, his body type. He reminds me a lot of Mo. We really like this kid. He’s athletic, big, fast. We see him coming in here and challenging walking in the door.

Emeka Nwankwo – Offensive Lineman – (6’4″, 280 – Miramar, Florida)
Nwankwo is a bit of a “tweener” between the offensive and defensive line and could end up along either line before all is said and done. He’s got some pretty good agility from playing high school basketball so I could easily see him making the move to the defensive line in a 3-4 system next to the NT. He will need to increase his strength no matter where he goes and will need to spend a lot of time with Reuben Mendoza before really making an impact, but he has a lot of upside.

Weis on Nwankwo: “There’s a 6’4″, 280 pound guy getting bigger every time I see him. He gives us the versatility both as an offensive and defensive lineman. 60 pancake blocks, 70 knock downs as a senior, and also played some hoops.”

Mike Ragone – Tight End – (6’5″, 230 – Cherry Hill, New Jersey)
Simply put Ragone is a defense stretching tight end. He’s got great speed for the position and was one of the two best tight ends in the country on almost everyone’s list. Like Allen, he missed his senior year because of an injury and had to skip the Army All American game. He hauled in 35 passes for 720 yards and 9 touchdowns as a junior including 6 touchdowns of 60 yards or more. USC was trying to visit with Ragone right up until this past week. Once he adds a little bit more weight to handle the blocking duties of a college tight end, he is going to be one heck of a weapon in this offense. Like Konrad Reuland last year, he comes to Notre Dame more highly touted and with more pure athleticism than either John Carlson and Anthony Fasnao – and we’ve all seen how well each of them has done in this offense.

Weis on Ragone: “We love this kid. As a junior he got hurt. He got to the right guys. He got it repaired right away. Coach Brown did a nice job of working with him, helping him rehab, develop. Kid looks great, put on some weight. He’s really, really fast. As a tight end, you don’t find very many tight ends that run fast. The MO on this guy is how fast he runs….They’re trying to cover a tight end. He’s just running right by everybody.”

Matt Romine – Offensive Lineman – (6’5″, 275 – Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Romine is the highest rated offensive lineman in this class and is a consensus top 100 prospect. He was an Army All American and showed enough leadership to be named captain of the West team. On top of being the most highly rated lineman in this class, he is also the most ready to play which is a good thing considering the lack of experience and depth the Irish have along the offensive line. He might not be as physically dominating as Sam Young was coming out of high school, but he’s got excellent leadership abilities and very good technique for a high school offensive lineman.

Weis on Romine: He got picked as one of the captains for the west team in the All American Bowl. That’s how much the players thought of him that All Star Game down there in San Antonio. He was one of the four cocaptains for the west team. We really like him. We think here is a guy that can come in and compete early in his career. Neither of these guys are projects. These guys are both guys that are solid guys, ready to play.

Golden Tate – Wide Receiver – (6’0″, 190 – Hendersonville, Tennessee)
Tate is a vertical threat from the wide receiver position. He’s got a lot of speed and could be the “stretch the field” receiver Notre Dame has been lacking. Reviews are mixed on him with ESPN ranking Tate as the 2nd best receiver in the country and listing him as the 37th best. Regardless, Notre Dame got a very fast wide receiver who can help the Irish in special teams right away. He spent his senior season at running back where he totaled 1,413 yards on 140 carries (10.1 yards/carry) with 22 touchdowns. The 10+ yards per carry average gives us a little idea for about his speed.

Weis on Tate: This kid is as good an athlete as I saw this year. Doesn’t make any difference what we have him do, he’s rushing the ball for 1400 yards, 23 touchdowns, he’s catching the ball for another 510 yards and six touchdowns. The only thing I’m concerned about is that Coach Shrag is going to want him because he might be as good a centerfielder as there is on the country on top of everything else.

Quotes from Wednesday’s Signing Day Press Conference.

[tags]Notre Dame Recruiting, Jimmy Clausen, Charlie Weis, Robert Hughes, Armando Allen, Duval Kamara, Golden Tate, Matt Romine, Taylor Dever, Mike Ragone, Emeka Nwankwo[/tags]

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