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Football Recruiting: Little commitment big addition for Irish recruiting class

Ken Fowler | Friday, November 10, 2006

As expected, Notre Dame went 1-for-2 in the recruiting war Thursday, winning the battle for the versatile Greg Little but losing the contest for No. 1 receiver prospect Arrelious Benn to Illinois.

At a press conference announcing his inclusion in this year’s Army All-American game, Little said he would become the 11th Irish verbal commitment for the class of 2011. Players cannot sign binding letters of intent until February.

Little is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior at Hillside High School (Durham, N.C.) who has played running back, wide receiver and linebacker the past two seasons. His 40-yard dash time is listed at 4.50.

“He brings a tremendous amount of athleticism to Notre Dame’s team,” said Mike Frank, who covers recruiting for Irisheyes.com. “The kid just flat can run. You just don’t see guys that size run … as well as he does.”

As a junior, Little averaged 7.29 yards per carry while gaining 1,166 yards on the ground. He also had 23 receptions for 375 yards and four interceptions on defense.

“He’s a very good running back,” Frank said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see [Irish coach] Charlie [Weis] use him in that role. … The guy has got good feet, good acceleration and he can really play.”

Frank said schools recruited Little as a wide receiver because he expressed a desire to play the position in college. But as Little’s body develops, Frank said, Notre Dame could use him anywhere from tight end to linebacker or strong safety.

“When you watch him on film, he looks a lot like [Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver] Terrell Owens,” Frank said. “He certainly doesn’t have excellent hands at this point – probably [because he is still] learning to become a receiver – [but] he’s got lots and lots and lots of potential.”

North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State and USC were among a host of schools that had offered Little scholarships.

Benn, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound wide out from Washington, D.C. (Dunbar High School), had offers from Florida State, Maryland, USC and Miami, among others. Frank compared Benn to Irish senior Rhema McKnight.

“Benn’s more of a complete receiver because he’s played receiver forever,” Frank said. “He’s got very good hands, he’s pretty elusive [and] he’s got good speed.”

Frank said Notre Dame was “banking on” getting Benn because he had told the Irish he would come to Notre Dame but later changed his mind.

“Sometimes players feel like they belong or they don’t,” Frank said. “I guess it didn’t really seem like it was a good fit for him.”