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ND recruits react

Pat Leonard | Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Martin Frierson and Lawrence Wilson, two recruits verbally committed to attend Notre Dame next fall, decommitted from the Irish after learning of Tyrone Willingham’s removal as head football coach.

Neither Frierson nor Wilson are eliminating the Irish from contention in their recruiting search, but both players feel they cannot hold their commitments at this time due to the change in leadership of the program.

“I’m definitely going to reconsider my commitment,” Wilson told Mike Frank of IrishEyes.com. “That was terrible what happened. I really like coach Willingham. I liked all the coaching staff. I really wanted to play for them.”

Frank said Frierson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was planning to continue to look at other schools anyway.

“I’m still looking at Vandy, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Kentucky is coming to my house tomorrow,” Frierson (Irmo, S.C.) told Irish Eyes. “I just set up an official visit to Georgia Tech.”

Notre Dame’s list of commitments decreases from 11 players to nine. The Irish have tentatively secured one four-star recruit, seven three-star recruits and one two-star so far.

Many of Willingham’s assistant coaches were out on the recruiting trail when the announcement of the coach’s firing was made. But experts had already begun dubbing the current Irish class as sub-par, similar to the winter 2004 recruiting class that barely cracked the national top 30.

“I think there are a lot of kids that really liked coach Willingham and this coaching staff,” Frank said. “But I also think there are a lot of top-tier players that probably dropped Notre Dame because of the record that the coaching staff amassed this year. … Maybe if Notre Dame got a coach in here fairly soon, they might be able to get back in on some of those guys who dropped Notre Dame.”

Athletic director Kevin White did not give a time frame for hiring Notre Dame’s replacement for Willingham, but the absence of a head coach in the interim could continue to hurt the Irish.

“I’m definitely going to reopen my recruiting,” Wilson reiterated. “Notre Dame doesn’t have a coach, so I have to look at other options. I will listen to what the new coach has to say. But I’ll look at all my other options.”

Frierson said he was uncertain of his intentions.

“I’m not sure what is going on,” he said. “I guess I’ll have to wait and see.”