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Football recruiting: Irish lose battle for Peters

Ken Fowler | Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Four days after star defensive end Justin Trattou de-committed to Notre Dame and announced he would instead play football at Florida, the Irish saw another defensive line prospect go elsewhere.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end Jason Peters of Baton Rouge committed to coach Chan Gailey and Georgia Tech. Peters visited Louisiana State, Oklahoma and Florida this weekend before deciding on the Yellow Jackets, the Journal-Constitution reported.

Peters was one of the few remaining targets on Notre Dame’s board, although nabbing the Catholic Junior High School product from the South seemed unlikely.

“He was a guy that they recruited for a while and seemed like he was interested,” said Mike Frank, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Irisheyes.com, a member of the Scout.com network. “But for whatever reason, he didn’t seem to have an interest in visiting here. … They came on a little late for him.”

Notre Dame has offered scholarships to several other players, but it is believed that Peters was the last defensive lineman with such an offer – though Irish coach Charlie Weis could make last-minute offers.

“I’m not sure they’ll go after another defensive end, to be honest with you,” Frank said. “I think they’ll just kind of stick with what they’ve got. You just can’t overcome not having a relationship with guys.

“I think they’ll probably just wait it out and see what happens I think their best bet is to probably just hold on to those they already have.”

National Signing Day is Feb. 7, at which time players can sign binding letters of intent.

Defenders with current offers from Notre Dame include cornerback Ronald Johnson of Michigan, safety Major Wright of Florida and safety Michael McNeil of Alabama.

Notre Dame’s best chance at a late pickup may be in Wright, who attends the high school of current Irish freshmen offensive linemen Dan Wenger and Sam Young.

But stealing a prospect from another school might be even easier. Frank said Notre Dame offered a scholarship to Brian Smith, a 6-foot-2 linebacker from Kansas who committed to Iowa in December. Smith’s father, Chris, played at Notre Dame.

“He’s always wanted to go to Notre Dame, and whether that happens or not, we’ll still find out,” Frank said. “I think that they’ve got a shot to get him.”

Frank said the Irish are also hoping to take Ohio kicker Brandon Walker away from Louisville. Walker is expected to visit Notre Dame this weekend.