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Fooball: Rainy game may have attracted top recruits

Lorenzo Reyes | Friday, September 19, 2008

Imagine being a highly touted recruit visiting one of the premier football programs in the nation on a fall Saturday in September, in which the hosts played its most hated rival in a rainy, raucous atmosphere to pick up a convincing win.

For the high school talents in attendance at Notre Dame’s 35-17 win over Michigan last week, this was precisely the case.

As a result, the Irish coaching staff is thrilled with the progress made toward receiving verbal commitments from some of these young talents. Mike Frank, who covers Notre Dame football for Scout.com, said the win over the Wolverines is exactly what the Irish needed.

“What the Irish did do is solidify opinions that a lot of these recruits had about Notre Dame,” Frank said. “That and all the guys who already committed had a great time too, so it was a big week.”

Some players that originally weren’t highly interested in the Irish have now started to strongly consider Notre Dame as a possible destination. According to Frank, linebacker Glenn Carson from Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J., is a perfect example.

“Notre Dame wants Carson to play from the fullback position, but he wants to stick to his natural linebacker position,” Frank said. “They’re telling him that wherever he can get on the field first is where he’ll play. In the end it might end up hurting Notre Dame, but they’re right in it with Penn State and Rutgers for the lead.”

Defensive end Chris Bonds out of Columbia, S.C., soaked in his first visit to the Notre Dame campus and came away impressed. Another person who enjoyed the experience was Bonds’ mother, who could influence the selection process.

“Bonds came in thinking, ‘I don’t know about Notre Dame,'” Frank said. “But he left thinking ‘this is actually a really nice place.’ The key for the Irish is to continue giving him attention. They’ve got [defensive coordinator] Corwin Brown recruiting him and he’s been great at reeling in top talent.

“He’s been looking at schools in the [Southeastern Conference], and the leaders are Alabama and Tennessee. If Tennessee continues to play poorly, Notre Dame has a chance. More importantly, his mother came away impressed and she could be influential in the final decision.”

Davon Custis, another defensive end considering the Irish, is from Columbus, Ohio, and was on campus for an unofficial visit against Michigan. The Irish worked themselves back into the mix, and once Custis could make his final decision when he returns for his official visit later this season.

“With Davon, it’s interesting,” Frank said. “He likes Notre Dame, but Boston College was kind of leading. The Irish opened his eyes on the latest visit. There aren’t too many defensive ends left on the board, so he’s a big target. He’ll probably have his final look at Notre Dame on his official, and that could solve all his questions.”

Although sometimes inclement weather spells trouble for recruiting during game days, the rain heightened the passion and atmosphere of the crowd – something the high school talents quickly picked up on.

“It’s huge for the Irish,” Frank said. “The most important thing for them was that kids wanted to see a winner again. They want to see emotion and passion in the environment, and I think Michigan was perfect for that.”

After the big rivalry win, the Irish improved their standing with some of the recruits, but did they do anything to warrant a commit in the near future?

“I think Nyshier Oliver is the most likely at this point,” Frank said. “He’s still taking his visits and looking around, but they need a speed receiver and he would be a huge get.”

In addition to the high school seniors, Notre Dame laid some solid groundwork on the prospects of the recruiting class of 2010. Of the 13 that have been offered scholarships thus far, six were present against the Wolverines.

“They really did a great job of bringing in some top junior talent,” Frank said. “They set themselves up for the future with a great win. Also, the recruits were able to meet each other and spend some time together which is always good.”