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Committed recruits arrive for banquet

Joe Meixell | Friday, December 2, 2005

The 84th University of Notre Dame football banquet will take place at 7 p.m. tonight at the Joyce Center, but with less significance than usual – not that it’s a bad thing.

The football banquet normally marks one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the year, with several highly-rated, undecided prospects taking their official visits to Notre Dame.

But since head coach Charlie Weis has already secured 22 known verbal commitments for his first full recruiting class, there will not be a single uncommitted recruit in attendance at the banquet.

“In the past it’s been the big weekend for Notre Dame to kind of shore up and land some top guys,” Mike Frank of Irisheyes.com said of the banquet. “But [Weis] has kind of fast forwarded that process and he already has his top guys in the fold.”

With the maximum number of players allowed in one recruiting class set at 25 by the NCAA, Notre Dame has very few spots remaining. But Frank said running back James Aldridge and offensive lineman Chris Stewart, and possibly wide receiver/kick returner George West, will become the first-ever Irish recruits in the modern era to enroll early and begin school in January.

Early entrants can be counted towards the previous year’s recruiting class, giving Weis room for five or six more commitments.

Recruits cannot officially sign letters of intent until February.

Notre Dame will be hosting several committed players this weekend. Frank believes Aldridge, offensive lineman Eric Olsen, kicker Ryan Burkhart, quarterback Demetrius Jones, tight end Paddy Mullen, running back Munir Prince, defensive ends John Ryan and Kallen Wade, wide receivers Rob Parris and Barry Gallup and fullback Luke Schmidt will attend today’s banquet.

Former Notre Dame head coach and current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz will be the lead speaker. Frank said the banquet, while not as vital to recruiting as in years past, will still be important and meaningful to the team.

“I think its just more going to be a celebration of a season that has turned out pretty well,” he said.


u Gatorade announced the winners of its annual state high school football player of the year awards this week. Seven current Irish verbal commitments were recognized as the top player in their respective states – linebacker Morrice Richardson [Georgia], quarterback Demetrius Jones [Illinois], fullback Luke Schmidt [Indiana], wide receiver Barry Gallup [Massachusetts], running back Munir Prince [Missouri], safety Jashaad Gaines [Nevada] and offensive lineman Eric Olsen [New York].