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Football Recruiting: Weis choices

Mike Gilloon | Thursday, February 3, 2005

Lawrence Wilson finally chose Ohio State over Notre Dame. Brian Roche will be blocking for the Cardinals of Louisville next season, not the Irish. Nonetheless, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis was “content” with his first recruiting class during a press conference Wednesday afternoon announcing 15 signees for the class of 2009.

“I would like to thank all the assistant coaches at Notre Dame who, in my absence, have done a very admirable job,” Weis said, alluding to the fact that he has been splitting time between Notre Dame and his current role as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. “I’m very, very happy with the young men that they have added on here.”

Rivals.com rates the class 39th nationally, noting that only two Irish recruits garnered four-stars from the Web site and none earned five.

Notre Dame signed seven players on offense and eight on defense. Three of the defensive recruits will play in the secondary and add much-needed depth to a unit that loses four seniors off last year’s squad.

At other positions the Irish were not as successful. Roche, a Scout.com four-star offensive lineman from Ramsey, N.J., would have given Notre Dame a third solid recruit at that position. Instead, Notre Dame signed two linemen – Michael Turkovich and Paul Duncan. Both have earned four-star ratings from Scout.com and will add depth to an offensive line unit that returns all five starters.

“When we went in here we would have two or three [players] at certain positions that we wanted to get,” Weis said. “For example, we might have wanted to get three wide receivers and we got two. Okay. So I think we at least reached the minimum of each position that we were recruiting.”

The two receivers are D.J. Hord and David Grimes. Hord is the only recruit ranked in Collegefootballnews.com’s top 150 players in the nation at 104th. He is out of Rockhurst Jesuit High School in Kansas City, Mo. and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. Hord made 36 receptions for 560 yards and six touchdowns last season and was named Gatorade Missouri player of the year.

Steve Quinn, the latest Irish recruit having been offered a scholarship only last week, is being brought in as a linebacker but could join Hord and Grimes at receiver in the fall.

“He had some good skills,” Weis said. “He was kind of that athletic type that can play both linebacker and wide receiver. That’s a very unusual combination that I’ll be interested to work with.”

Tight end recruit Erik Lorig is still yet to decide between Notre Dame and Stanford and has set no date for an announcement, according to Irisheyes.com. He is the eighth-rated tight end in the nation according to Scout.com and would raise the class total to 16 players if he commits.

The three defensive backs that signed Wednesday include David Bruton of Miamisburg, Ohio, Ray Herring of Melbourne, Fla. and Kyle McCarthy of Youngstown, Ohio. Bruton wavered in his verbal commitment after Notre Dame fired Tyrone Willingham on November 30, making a visit to Wisconsin Dec. 10, before reaffirming his decision to go to Notre Dame. He is listed as one of the top-30 recruits in Ohio, making 58 tackles and eight interceptions in 2004.

Neither Herring nor McCarthy were top-rated recruits, with Herring listed as the 41st rated safety and McCarthy the 74th rated cornerback in the nation according to Scout.com. However, both are very athletic. McCarthy joins Hord as the speediest recruit with a 4.4 40-yard time, while Herring ranks seventh in Florida state history with 25 career interceptions.

The remaining three offensive players to sign with the Irish include quarterback Evan Sharpley, fullback Asaph Schwapp and tight end Joey Hiben. Sharpley threw for 3,700 yards and 45 touchdowns his senior year at Marshall High School in Marshall, Mich. Weis insisted that although Brady Quinn is the starter at quarterback going into spring practice, Sharpley and every other recruit will have the chance to compete for a starting job.

“I would be very disappointed if [the recruits] walked in the door not competing to get into the mix,” Weis said. “So I think walking in the door for Evan [Sharpley], just like every guy here, you’re trying to challenge, first of all, just to work your way up the depth chart to be in contention to play.”

Other defensive recruits include Derrell Hand, Pat Kuntz and Scott Smith. Hand and Kuntz are both defensive lineman while Smith is a linebacker. Hand is 6-foot-3, 300 pounds and was named first-team all-Philadelphia Catholic League at both defensive tackle and tight end.

Kuntz had 14 sacks his senior year while leading Indianapolis’ Roncalli High School to a state title. Smith is expected to bolster a young Irish linebacking corps after tallying 143 tackles in 2004, including 32 in a single game.

Contact Mike Gilloon at mgilloon@nd.edu