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Football: Irish land Chicago-area recruit

Ken Fowler | Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Notre Dame landed its second verbal commitment for the class of 2011 Saturday when Chicago-area recruit Aaron Nagel (Lemont, Ill.) accepted a scholarship offer from head coach Charlie Weis to play outside linebacker.

“It’s always been my dream since I was a little kid to go to Notre Dame,” Nagel said in a telephone interview with The Observer Monday. “I was hoping for [the offer], but I wasn’t expecting it.”

Nagel said he came to Notre Dame this weekend to meet with Weis and discuss his chances of getting a scholarship offer from the Irish.

“[Assistant] Coach [Rob] Ianello, who is the recruiting coordinator for my area, told me Coach Weis wanted to sit down with me and get to know me,” Nagel said. “He said I probably wouldn’t get an offer until I attended a camp there. When he offered me, I was so excited.”

Nagel has lined up at running back, wide receiver, linebacker and safety for Lemont High School, much in the mold of current Notre Dame free safety Tom Zbikowski, who played quarterback in high school and was recruited as an “athlete.”

This past season, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior ran for 1,305 yards and 20 touchdowns at running back and made 55 solo tackles and four interceptions on defense.

He also runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and ranks third in his class of 340 students with a 4.4 grade-point average on a weighted 4.0 scale.

“I wanted to go to a school that was strong on academics,” Nagel said. “Notre Dame is not only strong [in athletics], it’s one of the best academic schools in the country.”

Mike Frank of IrishEyes.com, a Web site on the Scout.com recruiting network, said he felt Nagel’s focus on grades as well as football likely helped him earn the scholarship offer.

“Any time you’re going to have a guy that can get it done in the classroom, it makes him an attractive target as well,” Frank said. “I think it certainly helps giving him an offer to have such a great situation academically – a guy who gets his work done.”

But Frank said the reason Weis offered Nagel a scholarship was likely his prowess on the field.

“When it’s all said and done, he still got the offer because he’s a very, very good football player,” Frank said. “He’s a guy that flies to the football, likes to hit people and is a real aggressive player. He has very, very good speed. He makes his turn well left and right. He has very good lateral movement. That will make him a very good linebacker.”

Nagel said Weis complimented his speed and ability to hit when the two met this Saturday.

“He’s just going to get bigger [and] stronger,” Frank said of Nagel. “He’s a guy that can run with a lot of players. He’s a guy who definitely is going to increase your athletic ability and speed at the linebacker position.”

Nagel received offers from 11 other schools, including Purdue, Boston College, Michigan State and Stanford.

“I’ve been to Notre Dame about five times,” he said. “I love the campus, the atmosphere … everything.”