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Football: Spring recruiting

Jay Fitzpatrick and Chris Hine | Friday, April 18, 2008

Most of Notre Dame’s freshmen recruits for next season haven’t graduated high school, let alone participate in a single practice for the Irish so far.

But the recruiting cycle for next year has already started, and the Irish welcome eight of the best recruits in the country to campus this week for the annual Blue-Gold Spring Game.

Notre Dame has offered scholarships to all eight players.

Cierre Wood

Wood is the No. 3 running back for next year, and a five-star recruit according to the recruiting Web site scout.com.

Wood was a dominant force for his high school, Santa Clara High School, carrying the ball 178 times for 2,612 yards last season.

Mike Frank, who covers Notre Dame recruiting for scout.com, said part of Wood’s appeal is that he can also play special teams.

“He’s a guy who is electrifying on special teams, a great return man, very explosive player, and can hit the home run,” he said.

Frank added that the Oxnard, Calif., native has a chance to make an impact for Notre Dame immediately.

“He’s a difference maker. Notre Dame has a lot of great players, but they don’t have a lot of difference makers. And he’s a good size at 6-foot, 205 pounds. He averages over 14 yards a carry, the guy is tremendous,” he said.

Anthony LaLota

LaLota is a defensive end who only recently began playing football. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder from Princeton, N.J., played his first full season of football last year, when he had 40 tackles and 10 sacks for the Hun School.

Frank said LaLota’s experience may force him to sit a season, but that he has the athleticism and potential to be a good player.

“When you watch him, he’s just an extremely athletic kid that just runs real well, plays aggressively, pretty big kid that just plays very well,” he said.

Frank said the most important thing for LaLota is to work on technique between now and when he starts playing college ball.

“I think he’s one of those ‘projectable guys,’ a guy who’s not ready to play from day one because I think he might need a little work on technique. But he’s a guy that’s got so much athletic ability that you think that it’ll be a short time before you see him on the field,” Frank said.

Frank also called LaLota “an ideal candidate defensively.”

Tyler Stockton

Stockton is LaLota’s teammate at the Hun School in Princeton, N.J., and was also a strong presence on the defensive line.

Frank said Stockton could play nose guard or defensive tackle and that Stockton has attended Notre Dame’s football camps a few times. He also said Stockton is “exactly what Notre Dame is looking for.”

“A couple of Stocktons each year, and you’re going to have a heck of a football team. He’s a guy Notre Dame would love to land early because it is a big need position,” Frank said.

Stockton is not near the top of any recruiting boards at defensive tackle, including scout.com, but Frank said he would be a solid pickup for the Irish.

“I think that he’s definitely not the top target that they have at defensive tackle, but he’s right up there with anybody,” he said.

Craig Roh

Roh is a 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end out of Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz – and one of the most sought-after recruits in the country for next year.

“Tons of offers, everybody under the sun has offered this kid,” Frank said of Roh.

Roh had 99 tackles and 15.5 sacks as a junior last season, en route to being named all-state. Frank called Roh a good, physical pass rusher who loves to pursue the quarterback.

“I think Notre Dame would like to get a couple [defensive ends] and they have been zeroing in on him,” Frank said.

Frank said that, despite the amount of schools offering Roh, Notre Dame has a good chance of landing him, but that this weekend could decide that.

“If he likes the visit up here, I think Notre Dame will have a real good shot to land him, but it’s all going to come down to the visit. He seems like a Notre Dame kid, like a kid that will fit in really well at Notre Dame,” he said.

E.J. Banks

Banks is a cornerback out of Montour High School in McKees Rock, Penn.

Banks plays offense and defense in high school, as quarterback and a defensive back. Last season, Banks had 2,155 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns on offense in addition to three interceptions on defense.

Frank said what Notre Dame likes about Banks is his physicality.

“He is a Corwin Brown type of corner. A big physical guy, and plays press coverage at the line of scrimmage as well.”

Frank said Banks has the speed to play cornerback, but is also a lot stronger than most corners. Banks’ physicality will be a big asset in Notre Dame’s defense, Frank said, because of the style of play that both defensive coordinator Corwin Brown and assistant head coach-defense Jon Tenuta like.

“That’s why you see Notre Dame going after bigger guys at corner, like E.J.,” Frank said.

Jake Golic

Golic is the only verbal commitment Notre Dame has this recruiting cycle, just as his brother, center Mike Golic, Jr., was one of the first commits to the Irish last season.

The younger Golic is a 6-foot-5, 212-pound tight end out of Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Conn.

Golic was the only tight end Notre Dame offered, and Frank said he thinks Golic was the Irish’s top guy.

“Jake’s got a little growing to do, but he’s got that nastiness that Charlie Weis is looking for,” Frank said.

Frank said Golic has nice hands, but that he could use a year or so on the bench to develop.

“But once he does [develop], you’re going to have a pretty darn good football player,” Frank said. “I think that’s why they offered him.

Golic’s father, Mike Golic, Sr., played defensive line at Notre Dame and his uncle Bob Golic was an All-American linebacker.

Devonte Holloman

Holloman is one of the top safety recruits this season, coming out of Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C.

Frank said Independence is one of the top high school football powers. Like Roh, he said a lot of schools have already offered Holloman.

Frank said Holloman, who stands at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, “has a college body already” and that this gives him an opportunity to play right away.

“I think we’ll know a little bit more about him and his interests after this weekend,” Frank said. “But I think he’s developed a pretty good relationship with Corwin Brown and I think he wants to come up here and check it out.”

Jordan Barrett

Barrett is a former teammate of current Notre Dame commits Dayne Crist and Anthony McDonald at Notre Dame High school. Barrett is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker.

Frank said the Irish coaches noticed Barrett when they were watching film on McDonald during last season’s recruiting cycle.

Frank said what really stood out about Barrett was his work ethic.

“I think they are looking for guys that can go 100 percent all of the time, and I think he fits that bill,” Frank said.

D.J. Adams

Frank said Adams is comparable to 2008 Notre Dame recruit Jonas Gray and has scholarship offers from schools such as Maryland, Clemson, Boston College, and Michigan State. Notre Dame hasn’t offered scholarships to many running backs in this class, Frank said.

Adams, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 212-pounds, is a resident of Norcross, Ga., which means this visit could make or break whether Adams commits to the Irish.

“With all kind of southern kids, you can’t really say how they’re going to react to Notre Dame because a lot of them haven’t been up in this part of the country before,” Frank said. “It’s either a home run visit or it’s kind of the nail in the coffin for southern kids. They either really love Notre Dame or they cross it off.”