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Football Recruiting: OT James headlines final official recruiting visits over weekend

Matt Gamber | Friday, January 29, 2010

Irish coach Brian Kelly and his staff will host 13 official visitors, including five Notre Dame verbal commits, this weekend in what will be the final major recruiting push before National Signing Day on Wednesday.

U.S. Army All-American Matt James, an offensive tackle from St. Xavier H.S. in Cincinnati, Ohio, remains one of the top uncommitted players on Notre Dame’s board Irish recruiting analyst Mike Frank said.

“Matt James is obviously a huge recruit for Notre Dame because they really need another lineman in this class,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Web site irishsportsdaily.com. “[Scouts at the Army All-American Bowl] said Matt James was the best pass protector they saw the entire week down there, and he’s a guy who’s really huge on Notre Dame’s radar, and a guy they really need to land.”

James will choose between Notre Dame and Ohio State on Wednesday, and how he clicks with Irish offensive line coach Ed Warinner could determine his ultimate decision, Frank said.

“I was real impressed with [Warinner] and think he’s a really smart, likable guy, so I think he’ll do a good job with Matt this weekend,” Frank said. “When you look across at Notre Dame’s offensive line depth chart, there just isn’t a true left tackle that you can point to. I think with Matt James you can say that. He’s a big kid who moves well and pass protects well.”

Aside from James and the five Irish commits — athlete Austin Collinsworth, quarterback Andrew Hendrix, tackles Christian Lombard and Tate Nichols and wide receiver Daniel Smith — this weekend’s visitors have been recruited almost entirely by the new staff, which, as Kelly has said, searches for “RKGs,” or the right kind of guys.

“I think [the coaches] went out to find guys with a fondness for Notre Dame, and I think this is a group of those RKGs coach Kelly likes to talk about,” Frank said. “You’re not just going to make a visit the last weekend of the recruiting season if you don’t have a strong interest in a school.”

Those players include running back Brandon Bourbon, defensive ends Bruce Heggie and Kona Schwenke, safety James Ioane, quarterbacks Luke Massa and Derek Roback, and athlete Danny Spond.

“It’s a pretty big leap of faith to go visit Notre Dame this weekend,” Frank said. “I think that speaks volumes about how much they’re interested in Notre Dame, and I think that speaks volumes about Notre Dame’s staff and how quickly they were able to get in on some of these kids and get them interested.”

Many of this weekend’s visitors have the athletic ability to fill in at various positions of need should they choose Notre Dame, Frank said.