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Five recruits already adapting to college life

Laura Myers | Thursday, February 3, 2011

While most of Notre Dame’s 23 recruits will join the Irish this summer, five made the choice to leave high school early and enroll in classes this spring.

Quarterback Everett Golson, kicker Kyle Brindza, linebacker Ishaq Williams and defensive linemen Aaron Lynch and Brad Carrico are taking classes at Notre Dame and will participate in spring football practices, which begin March 23.

“These young men get this opportunity to really understand Notre Dame and the rigors of the classroom, the community, being in the dorms, finding South Dining Hall, understanding all those things before they have to play in the fall,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said.

Lynch, a four-star recruit, and Williams, a five-star recruit, both committed just days before the spring semester began on Jan. 18. Williams committed Jan. 14 and Lynch on Jan. 15. Lynch had originally committed to Notre Dame over the summer, but switched to Florida State for a brief time in January before recommitting to the Irish.

Brindza, who committed to Notre Dame last spring, originally attempted to enroll an entire year early in order to compete for kicking and punting duties on the 2010 team. However, Notre Dame admissions declined his request.

Enrolling early allows players extra time to work out with the team and learn the Irish playbook, which could translate into opportunities early in the fall season.

This could be especially critical for Lynch and Carrico, who are among six defensive linemen to sign with the Irish in 2011.

“You would think that with the number of guys who can play that position, somebody might break through at that position. But it’s so hard,” Kelly said. “The guys that are going to be here, the five guys that are here, they’ve got a shot too, because we’ve got a chance to evaluate them against … Zach Martin, Taylor Dever … guys that have played quality competition.

“But I would say that there’s a lot of defensive players that are going to get a chance to compete.”

The extra time will also give Golson, this year’s only quarterback recruit, a chance to establish himself next to quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist, Kelly said.

“I think it becomes pretty clear that Tommy Rees and Everett Golson are two different quarterbacks relative to the style,” Kelly said. “I think what you’ll see is Tommy Rees and most likely Dayne Crist and the other quarterbacks fit into that category. And then on the other side of the ledger you’ll have Everett Golson.”

Of the five freshmen who enrolled early in 2010, three saw significant playing time this season.

Rees played in nine games and started four after junior quarterback Dayne Crist had season-ending surgery. He led the Irish to consecutive wins over Utah, Army, USC and Miami in the last four weeks of the season.

Wide receiver TJ Jones earned a starting position in fall camp, and started seven of the 12 games in which he played. He scored a touchdown in each of his first two games, against Purdue and Michigan, becoming the first freshman to accomplish such a feat. He finished the season with 23 catches for 306 yards and three touchdowns.

Cornerback Lo Wood played in 11 games.

“The football element is big, but the assimilation into being a Notre Dame student is really what [enrolling early] is about,” Kelly said.