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Football: Highly-regarded players expected to commit

Mike Gilloon | Wednesday, February 1, 2006

One of the more highly touted Irish recruiting classes in recent memory is expected to become official today when Notre Dame’s 28 known verbal recruits are allowed to sign national letters of intent.

The group that Scout.com ranks as the No. 4 class in the country – boasting the nation’s top tight end, No. 2 offensive lineman and a pair of blue-chip quarterbacks – holds high expectations.

“We want to win a national championship,” offensive line recruit Eric Olsen said in an interview with The Observer Tuesday. “Make that plural – we want to win national championships.”

Irish coach Charlie Weis, who due to NCAA regulations is not allowed to comment publicly on a recruit until he signs his letter of intent, will hold a press conference at noon today in the Guglielmino Athletics Complex discussing the class that recruiting Web sites have listed as one of the best in the country.

Scout.com lists the Irish as having 12 four-star verbal commitments and three five-star recruits – tight end Konrad Reuland, running back James Aldridge and offensive lineman Sam Young.

Rivals.com, meanwhile, lists Notre Dame as the No. 7 class in the country.

“I’m extremely excited to be with these guys,” Reuland said in an interview with The Observer Tuesday. “We’re really excited to get out there.

“I was on the phone with [Irish linebacker verbal commitment] Morrice Richardson a little bit ago and we were just talking about our class. We were talking about how excited we are to win a national championship together.”

The largest and one of the most highly-touted groups in this year’s Irish recruiting crop is the offensive line, as Weis and his staff are expected to sign six lineman today. Young, the No. 2 rated lineman in the nation by Scout.com, headlines the unit. However, the other five line recruits – Olsen, Matt Carufel, Dan Wenger, Chris Stewart and Bartley Webb – have all garnered four stars from the Web site.

Several other positions are full of highly recruited players.

The two quarterbacks expected to fax their commitments to Notre Dame today, Demetrius Jones and Zach Frazer, both competed in last month’s Army All American Bowl.

They hope to hand off in the future to a group of running backs led by Aldridge, who Scout.com lists as the No. 7 ball carrier in the country. Luke Schmidt and Munir Prince round out the position.

The highest rated defensive position is cornerback, where the Irish expect signatures from Raeshon McNeil and Darrin Walls. The Pittsburgh-native Walls is a member of the Pennsylvania Big 33 team while McNeil is ranked No. 74 on the Rivals.com list of the top 100 players in the nation.

Notre Dame also expects to receive commitments from three of Scout.com’s top 30 safeties – No. 10 Sergio Brown, No. 20 Leonard Gordon and No. 29 Jashaad Gaines.

Wide receiver is the only spot besides linebacker where Notre Dame is not expected to sign at least one player ranked in the top 40 of his position by Scout.com.