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FOOTBALL RECRUITING: Aldridge becomes sixth commitment

Mike Gilloon | Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The number of Irish verbal commitments has grown to six. Running back recruit James Aldridge declared his intention to play for the Irish to Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis May 2. Aldridge, who cannot sign a binding letter of intent until February, rushed for 2,067 yards on 281 carries and scored 20 touchdowns as a junior last season at Merrillville (Ind.) High. He is listed as one of the top 100 players in the nation by Rivals.com. “The kid is definitely one of the top three running backs in the entire country,” Mike Frank of Irisheyes.com said. “He’s a rare combination of size and speed and has the ability to make people miss. He’s a big body but has the ability to break the long ones.”Aldridge agreed with this assessment of his talents in a statement released on Irisheyes.com. “A lot of people don’t expect me to be as fast as I am for my size, but I’m real quick,” Aldridge, who runs a 4.6 second forty-yard dash, said.Recruited by some schools as a linebacker, Aldridge is expected to suit up at running back for the Irish. Besides his success running the ball, Aldridge caught 11 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns.”He’s just an absolutely huge signing for Notre Dame,” Frank said. “He’s a featured back. He’s a ‘hoss.’ He’s a guy who can dominate a game.”In the days leading up to his decision, he narrowed his list of schools to Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. He received offers from numerous other programs including USC, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Virginia, Missouri and Purdue. “I just got a real good feeling when I was [at Notre Dame],” Aldridge said to Irisheyes.com. “I felt confident about what I could do at Notre Dame, and it’s just the right place for me.”I’ve got great vision because a lot of the stuff that I do when I run the ball, for some reason, I don’t remember actually doing it … I always leave room for myself to improve and get better.”Aldridge grew up outside St. Louis, Mo., where he was a childhood friend of fellow Irish running back recruit Munir Prince, until his family moved to Indiana before his junior year of high school.He joins a relatively large crop of Notre Dame recruits, considering national signing day is nine months away. The other players to give their verbal commitment to the Irish include Prince, wide receiver Barry Gallup (Mass.), quarterback Zach Frazer (Penn.), defensive end Kallen Wade (Ohio) and tight end Paddy Mullen (Mo.). There were rumors stemming from a television interview with Aldridge last week that Morgan Park (Ill.) quarterback Demetrius Jones had committed to Notre Dame. However, Frank does not believe Jones has verballed anywhere but could make a decision soon. “I think [Jones] likes Notr