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Recruiting: Decommitments open up slots

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, November 11, 2010

After two losses on the field, Irish coach Brian Kelly and his staff suffered three more losses in their first attempt at a full recruiting class while at Notre Dame.

Three four-star recruits, offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood, linebacker Clay Burton and defensive end Aaron Lynch, opted out of their verbal commitments to the Irish in the past two weeks.

“I think there are a lot of things players are looking for when they make that commitment,” said Mike Frank, an Irish recruiting analyst who runs the ESPN-affiliated site irishsportsdaily.com. “One is a good education, and another is they want to play for a big-time football program that gives you a chance to play for a national championship. And obviously, third, like any college student you want to have fun. I think for Notre Dame to get to that point, they are going to have to start winning some games.”

While Frank said the string of bad luck Kelly and the Irish have undergone is unlike any he has ever seen — from injuries to fake field goals to more injuries — he thinks recruits are failing to see the effects of that ill fortune.

“Kids are looking at it and saying that ‘I want to go to a program that can win a national championship,'” he said. “They just aren’t looking at the big picture and seeing why Notre Dame is losing.”

The decommitments from the three heralded recruits, all given a four-star ranking by ESPN’s recruiting analysts, likely eliminates any chance of them coming to Notre Dame, Frank said.

“Once these guys decide to take visits, almost always the original school is out,” he said. “All three of them have confirmed to us that Notre Dame is out of the running.”

The decommitments also opened up three more slots for other recruits. Fittingly, three recruits, two of which are four-star recruits as well, will visit campus this weekend and take in the Utah game from the sidelines.

Defensive end Brennan Scarlett, an Oregon native, could fill the spot left by Lynch. Scarlett, heavily recruited by most of the schools in the Pac 10, has long shown an interest in Notre Dame, Frank said.

“He’s a big-time player,” Frank said. “He’s been interested in Notre Dame for quite some time, and I think Notre Dame has a real good shot at him too. It’s his first time out here, and we’ll have to see what he thinks, but he is the kind of kid who I think will fit in well with the type of personalities already on the team.”

Four-star quarterback, and North Carolina committee, Everett Golson will also be in town over the weekend. With the recent season-ending injury to Irish junior quarterback Dayne Crist, Golson could take advantage of an uncertain Notre Dame quarterback situation, Frank said.

“With the situation with Dayne being out, and they aren’t exactly sure if he’ll be back or not for the spring, this is an ideal situation for a quarterback,” Frank said. “And [Golson] wants to enroll early, so he would be here for spring football.

“The thing that Golson brings that a Tommy Rees doesn’t, is that Golson is a tremendous athlete. He can run, and that has been one of the biggest problems of Notre Dame’s offense this year — you have to have a quarterback that can run.”

Also visiting campus this weekend are three-star recruit, and offensive lineman, Jay Whitmire and four-star recruit, and Irish committee, offensive lineman Matt Hegarty.

“[Hegarty] is obviously huge to this class. His talent is immense,” Frank said. “He is a perfect left tackle with a nasty disposition … I personally think he is one of the top two or three players in this class.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com.

E-mail Mike at mikefrank18@sbcglobal.net and tell him The Observer sent you.