The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Football: 3 seniors apply for fifth year

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Even without a bowl game to play in, it was a busy holiday season for Notre Dame.

Irish coach Charlie Weis saw one player transfer, than welcomed back three who announced they will apply for a fifth year.

On Jan. 8, Weis released a statement announcing that linebacker Maurice Crum, defensive lineman Justin Brown and cornerback Terrail Lambert will apply for a fifth year of eligibility.

Crum started all 12 games last season and ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 84. He also intercepted two passes, recovered two fumbles and scored a touchdown in the team’s 20-6 win over UCLA on Oct. 6.

Lambert also started every game last season, recording 34 tackles and one interception. Brown played in 10 games, started five and made 30 tackles and one sack.

In the same statement, Weis announced that sophomore cornerback Munir Prince has elected to leave the University and will enroll elsewhere.

Prince, a converted running back who carried 15 times for 21 yards in 2006, played sparingly in 2007 and made three tackles. He was also involved in an infamous play during the 38-0 loss to USC on Oct. 20 when an Irish punt hit him and the Trojans recovered the resulting loose ball.

On the recruiting front, Notre Dame lost the verbal commitment of one highly-regarded player, but added another to its ranks.

Defensive tackle Omar Hunter from Buford, Ga., abruptly dropped his commitment to the Irish, deciding instead to choose between Georgia and Florida, two schools closer to home.

“He’s a loss definitely,” said Mike Frank, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for IrishEyes.com. “It’s rare that you get a guy with that kind of size that moves as well as he does.”

Hunter’s de-commitment had a controversial element. Frank said he believes the high school senior kept the Irish coaching staff in the dark about his wavering intentions.

“I definitely believe that he was not being upfront about his interest in other schools,” Frank said. “It came as a big surprise to Notre Dame that he was wavering at all.”

To replace Hunter on the incoming freshman list, Notre Dame has targeted defensive lineman Mike Martin. The Redford, Mich., native is currently verbally committed to Michigan, but has felt uncomfortable with new Wolverines head coach Rich Rodriguez’s staff, Frank said.

“[Rodriguez’s staff hasn’t] done a lot of recruiting of him,” Franks said. “They just hired a defensive coordinator. [Notre Dame defensive coordinator] Corwin Brown has taken advantage of that.

“It will come down to where [Martin] feels the most comfortable.”

On Jan. 5, Notre Dame received a verbal commitment from wide receiver Deion Walker. Walker is rated the 11th best wideout in the country by Scout.com.

The Christchurch, Va., native joined Scout.com’s fifth-and 21st-best receivers, Michael Floyd and John Goodman, respectively, on Notre Dame’s commitment list.

“It’s really important to continue to land elite guys one right after another because that breeds competition,” Frank said.

Notre Dame’s recruiting class is ranked No. 1 in the nation by Scout.com, just ahead of Alabama and Georgia. As of Tuesday, it featured 22 players.

Two of those players – offensive lineman Trevor Robinson and defensive lineman Sean Cwynar – attended their first classes at Notre Dame on Tuesday as early-entry freshmen. They will participate in spring practice.