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Football: Two more recruits give verbal commitments over weekend

Jay Fitzpatrick | Monday, April 23, 2007

Not all the action was on the field at Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game as Notre Dame added two more top recruits to the class of 2012 – tight end Joseph Fauria and linebacker Darius Fleming.

Overall, the Irish have landed 10 prospects for the class of 2012, including two other linebackers – Anthony McDonald and David Posluszny – and one tight end – Kyle Rudolph.

Players cannot sign binding letters of intent until February.

Fauria, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound high school junior from Encino, Calif., played well last season at Crespi Carmelite High School. In his junior season, Fauria caught 22 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns.

Mike Frank, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for Irisheyes.com, said Fauria is a great fit with Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis’ offense mostly because of his soft hands.

“[Weis] wants a guy who’s pretty athletic, who can stretch the field deep and cause some problems,” Frank said. “And there’s nothing better than third and six when you got a big 6-foot-7, 225-pound tight end you can just throw to and who’s got great soft hands and is just a real physical mismatch for any linebacker that’s out there. And that’s really what he is.”

Frank also said Fauria’s size is another important factor in how the tight end will fit in with the Notre Dame offense.

“He has just really nice hands and does a really good job of getting open and he’s such a big target, a quarterback can throw the ball up fairly high and nobody will be able to get it but him,” he said.

Fauria said one of the main reasons he wanted to come to Notre Dame is because he likes how Weis keeps the tight ends involved in the passing game.

“And just watching the [Blue-Gold Game], the tight ends got the ball quite a lot, so, you know, that ensured it even more,” he said in a telephone interview with The Observer. “I knew how Charlie Weis runs most of his offense, and I love how he gets the tight ends the ball.”

Fauria had experience watching Weis’ offense before the coach moved to Notre Dame in 2005. His uncle Christian Fauria played tight end under Weis with the New England Patriots from 2002-2004 when the coach was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

Fauria also said that playing at Notre Dame was a dream come true and a goal he has had since childhood.

“Just being on campus just ensured everything that I thought about it and even more so. I loved everything about it; I couldn’t find anything negative about it,” he said. “And I’ve always wanted to be a part of it, and now I am.”

Notre Dame also landed Demetrius Fleming, a 6-foot-2, 219-pound linebacker and defensive end from St. Rita High School in Chicago.

Fleming has put up impressive statistics in his high school career, including 105 tackles, with 15 for a loss, nine sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered and six tipped passes in his junior season.

Frank said that Fleming – who reminds him of incoming Irish linebacker Kerry Neal – will be a strong presence in Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown’s new 3-4 defensive scheme.

“I think he’s perfect for this 3-4 look defense because he’s kind of a tweener,” Frank said. “He’s an excellent outside linebacker prospect for this defense.”

Fleming is also confident about his ability to fit in the 3-4 defense.

“I think it’s going to be great. I’m going to be playing outside linebacker. I’ll be showing my athleticism a little more than I am right now [at defensive end],” he said in a telephone interview with The Observer.

Fleming said that there were many factors in his decision to commit to the Irish this weekend, the foremost of which was the football program itself. The linebacker also mentioned Notre Dame’s academics and the opportunities Notre Dame will give him after graduation. He also said location and the personnel were important.

“And, it’s close to my parents so they can come see me, and I can go back home, that really had a big effect on me,” Fleming said. “And also the people like the coaches and the players, and the players that are going to be in my class.”

Brown, a Chicago native, was crucial in recruiting Fleming. Fleming said his interactions with Brown helped with his decision to come to Notre Dame.

“I’m looking forward to playing with him because I know he’s doing a good job,” he said. “The defense that he’s bringing in is going to work hard especially in the seasons to come. He’s bringing in some real good players, and I think we can be really good.”