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Football recruiting: Defensive back Walls verbally commits to Notre Dame

Mike Gilloon | Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Notre Dame landed one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation Monday morning when Woodland Hills (Pa.) cornerback Darrin Walls verbally committed to the Irish, bringing their total number of commitments to 19.

He is the second verbal commitment Notre Dame has secured since last Tuesday, when Maywood (Ill.) defensive back Sergio Brown announced his intention to play for the Irish.

Players are not allowed to sign binding letters of intent until February.

Walls, rated the No. 1 cornerback in America by Rivals.com, made his announcement at a 9 a.m. Monday press conference at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh and Michigan were the two other schools that Walls seriously considered.

He enjoyed the football atmosphere at all three schools but said Notre Dame was on a higher level because of its academics.

“I would say their 98 percent graduation rate is what made [the Irish] stand out,” he said in an interview with The Observer Monday.

Mike Frank of Irishyes.com believes this commitment is “huge” for the Irish, especially with a secondary that ranks No. 112 nationally.

“Notre Dame has struggled to land the elite corner prospects in recent years,” Frank said. “So this is a big pickup. He’s a guy who can take over a game. The type of guy you put on your best receiver.”

Frank mentioned that Notre Dame’s first three cornerback offers this season were Walls, Raeshon McNeil and Asher Allen. McNeil committed to Notre Dame Aug. 15 while Allen is headed to Georgia.

Walls also talked about Irish coach Charlie Weis having a major impact on his decision.

“[Weis] said they’d love to have me,” Walls said. “He said I was his No. 1 guy.”

Walls recorded 52 tackles and four interceptions last season for Woodland Hills. A shoulder injury has kept him from playing defense this year, but he has been suiting up at running back for his 6-0 team.

Despite the injury, Walls says he will be back for the state playoffs and ready to go next season, when he expects to have a chance at playing as a true freshman.

Most recruiting Web sites, including Scout.com and Rivals.com, believe Walls had his choices narrowed to Pittsburgh and Notre Dame before he made his announcement Monday.

However, Frank believes Notre Dame was in front from the beginning.

“I think [Walls] kind of knew where he wanted to go since spring,” Frank said. “I think he really likes [Irish coach Charlie] Weis and the rest of the staff. They did a fantastic job recruiting him.”

Walls made his official visit to Pittsburgh during the weekend of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game on Sept. 3. He has not yet made his official visit to Notre Dame but is scheduled to come Oct. 15 when the Irish take on Southern California. He has visited campus several times on unofficial visits, most recently last June.

Notes:

u Brown is listed on Scout.com as a “soft verbal,” but the 6-foot-2, 190 lb. safety from Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., says he is intent on signing with the Irish in Feb. However, he is scheduled to take visits to LSU, Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois while also visiting Notre Dame on Dec. 2.