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Football: Jones, Webb top list of ND recruits

Mike Gilloon | Wednesday, August 24, 2005

This summer was a busy one for Charlie Weis and his Notre Dame coaching staff as six recruits gave their verbal commitment to the Irish, upping the total number of recruits who intend to sign with Notre Dame this year to 12.

The six verbal commitments received since May 27 are cornerback Raeshon McNeil, offensive lineman Bartley Webb, running back Luke Schmidt, wide receiver Rob Parris, defensive end John Ryan and quarterback Demetrius Jones. Recruits are not allowed to sign their official letters of intent until February. McNeil is the most recent verbal commitment, having made his announcement on Aug. 15. He and Webb are two of the more important commitments given the lack of depth on the team in the defensive secondary and offensive line.

McNeil is the first secondary commitment in this class, and is believed by many experts to be the most promising Irish cornerback prospect in the past 10 years.

“Lately Notre Dame had seemed to miss out on their very top cornerback prospects,” said Mike Frank of Irisheyes.com. “But they got [McNeil] and will probably try to sign at least two and probably three cornerbacks in this class.”

The Mocksville, N.C. product garnered three out of a possible five stars by Scout.com. Clocked at 4.40 in the forty-yard dash, McNeil intercepted five passes and tallied 60 tackles in his junior season at Davie County High School.

“He’s a true corner, a big cornerback,” Frank said. “He’s got very good lateral movement. His high school uses him a lot in the return game, and I think Notre Dame will probably try him as a returner as well. He’s got that kind of ability and burst in the return game.”

The Irish intend to sign 25 players in Weis’ first full recruiting class, and with 12 committed before the first game of the 2005 season, Notre Dame is off to a good start, Frank said.

“Notre Dame has more recruits right now than the vast majority of schools,” Frank said. “But they also have a lot to get this year. [The large number of verbals so far] means they’re landing the top guys they’re recruiting. These players are very high on their list.”

One such highly-touted recruit is quarterback Demetrius Jones. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound prospect out of Morgan Park High School in Chicago chose the Irish over Illinois. Last season as a junior he threw for 2,300 yards and 25 touchdowns while rushing for 1,100 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Despite the April 14 commitment of quarterback Zach Frazer – the No. 11 quarterback in the nation according to Scout.com – Frank does not expect Jones to switch positions when he arrives on campus next year.

“[Jones] might not be as polished as Frazer, as far as mechanics go,” Frank said. “But he throws the ball quite a bit in high school. He’ll get every opportunity to play quarterback. He can make a lot of things happen if you get him on the field.”

Schmidt, the No. 17 running back in the nation according to Scout.com, is the third running back to verbally commit to Notre Dame. Frank said Schmidt and fellow Irish running back verbals James Aldridge and Munir Prince are the top three ball-carrier prospects on the Notre Dame coaching staff’s list.