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Recruiting: Visitors leave ND impressed

Allan Joseph | Thursday, October 27, 2011

A week after hosting its largest group of visiting recruits in recent memory, Notre Dame will host no official visitors this weekend against Navy, Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said. While a number of 2013 players will make unofficial visits to campus, the focus on the 2012 signing class is still largely on the aftermath of last week’s bonanza of visitors — and Notre Dame seems to have done well.

“I think a lot of guys came out impressed,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN affiliate Irish Sports Daily. “Notre Dame put their best foot forward as far as the game atmosphere goes.

“I think the player walk is a huge thing for these kids. They get how much Notre Dame football means to Notre Dame fans when they walk down the street and all the fans are screaming at them, trying to get them ready for the game. Those types of things have a huge impact on these players.”

While the atmosphere impressed a number of recruits, Frank said the result of the game often plays a large role in a recruit’s decision.

“I do think the game is important, more important than people realize,” Frank said. “How you stack up against USC is important to the [California players]. They’re leaving all the way from Southern California to come to South Bend, and I think they want to know that Notre Dame’s going to be competitive with them.

“Most of these kids don’t want to play on a losing team.”

While the Irish may have lost to the Trojans, Frank said the loss presents unique recruiting opportunities of its own.

“They can go up to these guys and say ‘You’re the missing piece that gets us over this hump,’” Frank said. “I’m sure that’s the angle they took, and that’s really the truth. They’re just a few players away from being a very good team.

“Some kids want to be a part of building a winning team, which Notre Dame certainly has that opportunity to sell.”

While Notre Dame may have sold a number of undecided players last weekend, Frank said it was too early to tell which players they may have been.

“I don’t think we’ll really know for sure until a couple of weeks down the road,” Frank said. “None of these players are probably going to decide right away and so when you’re really going to know how Notre Dame did is a couple weeks down the road when these players are visiting other schools and checking out other schools.

“If Notre Dame’s still high on their list after a couple more visits, then you have a pretty good idea of how well Notre Dame did. I don’t anticipate anybody committing anytime soon.”

Speculation swirled this week around California defensive back Tee Shepard, who has committed to Notre Dame and planned on enrolling early. There appears to have been a miscommunication between Shepard and the Notre Dame administration, but the issue appears to have been cleared up between the University and the high school senior. While some suggested Shepard would decommit if he could not enroll early, Frank said it was far too early for that speculation.

“I just think some things need to be clarified and I think that that’s all being worked out,” Frank said. “I don’t know where the mix-up was or why it happened, whether there was a miscommunication or what the situation was, but I think right now that it is a situation that will be resolved one way or another. He’s not decommitted at this point.”

Shepard reaffirmed his commitment to Notre Dame via his Twitter account Tuesday evening.

After a whirlwind week of recruiting, Frank said the most important thing to remember is that with months before National Signing Day, much is still up in the air.

“Recruiting is always a roller-coaster ride,” Frank said. “This time last year Notre Dame had dropped a couple games and it seemed like the wheels were falling off. Then they got back on the winning streak and then next thing you know, they close recruiting strong. So no matter what happens between now and the end of the season, all this stuff can change. We’ll just have to see how Notre Dame closes their season.

“I think a lot of recruits, especially a lot of the leaning ones, are taking a wait-and-see approach to Notre Dame to see which direction they’re heading. I think by the end of the year you’ll see them finish the season strong.”

Email Mike at mikefrank18@sbcglobal.net and tell him The Observer sent you.

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