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Football: Brown works hard for new defensive recruits

Chris Hine | Thursday, April 26, 2007

As the rest of the Irish made their way into the tunnel after Saturday’s Blue-Gold game, defensive coordinator Corwin Brown decided he would take a little detour on his way to the locker room.

Brown cut through the slowly moving herd of blue and white jerseys, and the significantly less intimidating mass of reporters gathered outside the tunnel, to say “hello” to a few people – the potential recruits at Saturday’s intra-squad game.

Brown has been hard at work this spring getting the word out to prospects that he is building Notre Dame’s defense into a national force.

And so far, Brown’s hard work on the recruiting scene has yielded success.

At this point last season under former defensive coordinator (and resident scapegoat) Rick Minter, the Irish had no recruits that verbally committed on the defensive side of the ball.

This season under Brown, four defensive prospects – defensive tackle Sean Cwynar, defensive end Darius Fleming, and linebackers Anthony MacDonald and David Posluszny have said they plan to attend Notre Dame for the class of 2012. Mike Frank, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for irisheyes.com, said Brown’s work ethic is a big part of his early success.

“As somebody who follows this very, very closely, I can’t remember a guy whose worked harder in the past,” Frank said. “I’ve never seen a guy who works as hard as this guy when it comes to recruiting. He’s constantly on the phone, he’s constantly [text messaging] and he’s staying on top of the top defensive players plus everybody he has within his own particular reach.”

When he first arrived, Brown had to battle the image that the 3-4 personnel system he planned to implement with the Irish was going to affect potential recruits negatively. A defensive end, Justin Trattou, went back on his verbal commitment to the Irish because of the defensive switch.

But since then, Brown has been able to turn this image into a positive one, emphasizing the flexibility of the 3-4 system to attract recruits of different sizes and body types.

“He had to let everybody know, ‘This is my defense, this is my philosophy, and this is why things are going to change at Notre Dame.’ I think he had to get that message out there,” Frank said. “And the only way he was going to do that without showing them on the field … is to get on the phone and talk to as many of these top guys as he can and explain to them, ‘Here’s why we like you, and here’s how we think that you can help us on defense, and here’s where we envision you playing.’ He’s done an outstanding job of communicating that message and getting these top, top players interested in coming to play for him.”

Frank said he believed the four recruits Brown has nabbed so far would have had more schools coming after them if it was later in the recruiting process and other coaches had the chance to look and evaluate them.

But regardless of who he has coming in, Brown’s success in the recruiting game will hinge upon how Notre Dame’s defense – a defense that finished 61st in total yardage allowed last season – progresses this season. They may not be one of the tops in the country, but if they can show significant improvement in stopping big plays, or as Brown likes to call them “explosives,” and getting some “explosives” of their own, Brown and his defense could build the foundation for getting the Irish defense pointed in the right direction.

Then, maybe those recruits who Brown went out of his way to see Saturday will walk with him inside the tunnel and into Notre Dame’s locker room. But even if they do not decide to come to Notre Dame, it will not be because Brown failed to try hard enough to get them here.