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Three commit, none A-list players

Pat Leonard | Monday, January 26, 2004

Tyrone Willingham and the Irish are waiting on word from a few A-list players – including defensive end Darryl Richard and defensive back Cortney Grixby.

In the meantime, coaches are working to lure the best remaining talent to South Bend in the late stages of a tough recruiting season.

Notre Dame received three more verbal commitments this weekend from defensive end Justin Brown, cornerback Junior Jabbie and quarterback Darrin Bragg, ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said.

The number of commitments has reached 14, and Lemming believes that number could increase soon.

“It looks like [offensive lineman] Allen Smith is coming [to Notre Dame],” Lemming said.

Smith stands 6-foot-5, 325 pounds and was heavily recruited by Pac-10 schools and Miami. He attended Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Ariz.

Lemming also said he believes New Jersey defensive back Leo Ferrine has made his decision to join the Irish.

But there is a problem lying within this weekend’s commitments, however, even if the Ferrine rumors are true.

“Smith is the only heavily recruited one,” Lemming said.

Darius Walker’s verbal commitment to Notre Dame Thursday afternoon was a huge step for the Irish recruiting staff, as Walker is an A-list running back – a player that coaches had pegged as a priority from the beginning.

The problem now – just over a week from signing day, Feb. 4 – is that not many A-list players remain on the board.

Brown, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end who could play linebacker, and Jabbie – 5-foot-11, 175 pounds – were not the first or perhaps second options for Notre Dame coaches, but the success of other schools’ recruiting staffs has left the Irish in a desperate situation to scramble last-minute.

Lemming believes Notre Dame is doing well given the situation.

“The coaches are out working hard,” he said. “[Director of personnel Jimmy] Gonzales is doing a great job of making the players happy on their visits.”

One weekend of visits remains before signing day.

On Sunday during his visit, Bragg became the second quarterback to verbally commit to Notre Dame after Tennessee signal caller David Wolke gave his word last week.

Brown and Jabbie visited on Jan. 16 and decided Sunday. According to Lemming, Brown needed help to get past Notre Dame admissions after previously being denied.

“None of these guys [Bragg, Brown and Jabbie] were first options, but the coaches obviously see some potential,” Lemming said.