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ND FOOTBALL RECRUITING: Offensive lineman Stewart commits to team

Mike Gilloon | Friday, November 18, 2005

Notre Dame literally received one of the biggest recruits in school history Thursday when 6-foot-5, 360-pound offensive lineman Chris Stewart gave his verbal commitment to the Irish.

“He’s a guy that absolutely engulfs people,” Mike Frank of Irisheyes.com said. “He’s got so much potential it’s unbelievable.”

Apparently, Irish coach Charlie Weis agreed with Frank’s assessment of the Klein, Tex. native.

Along with wide receiver Richard Jackson, who also committed to Notre Dame on Thursday, Weis now has 22 known verbals in his first full recruiting class.

None of the recruits can sign official letters of intent until February.

However, Stewart said he has met with Notre Dame Director of Admissions Dan Saracino and will be enrolling in school in January along with running back recruit James Aldridge. They are believed to be the first Irish football recruits in the modern era to enroll a semester early at Notre Dame.

The chance to enroll before the majority of his teammates was one of several reasons the massive offensive lineman chose Notre Dame.

“There’s no school in the world like it,” Stewart said in an interview with The Observer Thursday. “There’s a unique blend of atmosphere and people from around the world.”

Stewart intends to major in history and Spanish – a combination that he feels will help him achieve his career goal of being a foreign ambassador.

“Being able to graduate from Notre Dame would be incredible,” he said. “Everyone I met there was intelligent. The football players were intelligent and I just had a good feeling about it.”

Stewart is the third offensive lineman to commit to Notre Dame this season and Frank expects Weis to bring in at least two more offensive linemen..

He received four out of a possible five stars and is rated the No. 30 offensive lineman in the nation according to Scout.com. But Frank said Stewart might be underrated.

“You can pretty much flush those rankings down the toilet,” Frank said. “All you need to know is that he was one of the first offensive linemen that Weis and his staff offered. He impressed them that much that they said ‘Heck, we want this kid. Let’s go after him.'”

Boasting an impressive 390-pound bench press and a 500-pound squat, Stewart had his choices narrowed down to LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss before choosing Notre Dame.

Jackson is the fourth wide receiver to commit to the Irish and reminds Frank of a larger version of current Notre Dame receiver Rhema McKnight. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Clermont, Fla. native had 46 receptions this season for 536 yards and five touchdowns. This might be a result of being double- teamed by opponents after he burned his competition his junior season for 72 receptions, 1,272 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“It seems like he gets faster the more he runs,” Frank said of Jackson, who has been timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash. “He’s just got that extra gear to pull away from people.”