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Football Recruiting: Notre Dame lands top recruits from across the country

Dan Murphy | Thursday, February 5, 2009

Along with the list of All-Americans and names you have been hearing since early this fall, Notre Dame roped in a very impressive recruiting class that will be competing for places on the field next season.

On the defensive side of the ball, top recruit Manti Te’o will be joined by five other players.

E.J. Banks

Banks is one of three Irish players already on campus. He played both safety and quarterback for Montour High School in Pittsburgh, but will serve as a cornerback for Notre Dame. Last season he racked up more than 1,000 yards rushing and passing. He is currently coming off a torn ACL, but Irish coach Charlie Weis and the Irish are hoping his athleticism will help him rebound quickly. He also played basketball and competed in track in high school.

Carlo Calabrese

From the same high school as former Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano, Calabrese brings a hard-nosed New Jersey attitude with him to South Bend.

“He just likes contact,” Weis, a New Jersey native, said. “He’s a rocked-up unit. He looks the part. He looks the part like he would be ready to go early in his career.”

Calabrese was named his state’s Defensive Player of the Year in his senior season after finishing with 130 tackles and three sacks from the linebacker position. He is known as more of a run-stopper, but showed some athletic ability by catching 27 passes for nearly 500 yards this season.

Dan Fox

Fox is another one of the many young linebackers expected to compete for a job early in his career. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds he has the size to be a good outside linebacker, where Weis expects he will fit in. Fox played safety this year at St. Ignatius in Ohio.

“We like the school and we like players that come out of the school that fit our mentality,” Weis said.

Both Fox’s school and family have strong ties to Notre Dame.

Zeke Motta

Motta, another early enrollee, has been touted as the most athletic of Notre Dame’s new recruits. After an eye-opening performance at the U.S. Army All-American game, he quickly began gaining respect in national rankings.

Weis said the Sunshine State native reminded him a lot of current Irish linebacker Harrison Smith. Motta has already impressed the coaching staff in his first few weeks in South Bend and is expected to play either outside linebacker or safety.

Tyler Stockton

Stockton has been signed up to play for the Irish since last year’s Blue-and-Gold game and is the final freshman to arrive on campus this year. The 290-pounder, another New Jersey native, was ranked the third-best defensive tackle in the country by ESPN. “We think he’s a dynamic player and he gets off the ball,” Weis said. “He’s got good quickness and he uses his hands, and here is another guy we are really happy to have our hands on as we go into the spring.


This year Notre Dame continued to rack up talented athletes on offense as well. The Irish stocked the shelves for new line coach Frank Verducci with three offensive linemen, two tight ends and a long snapper.

Alex Bullard

At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, Bullard is considered a very athletic offensive lineman. Rivals.com listed him as the 15th-best guard in the country, where he is expected to play for Notre Dame. He led Brentwood Academy to a Class AAA Tennessee state championship in his junior year and this year was named the third best player in the state.

“I really like the kid. He came here on his visit and we really clicked. Clicked with him and clicked with his folks, right off the bat,” Weis said.

Tyler Eifert

Eifert is a local player from Fort Wayne and joins the ever-increasing list of large, talented Notre Dame tight ends. His size (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) and speed leave him somewhere in between a wide receiver and tight end.

Despite not having a need at the tight end position, Weis said the team was too impressed with Eifert’s performance at the Notre Dame summer camp to not offer him a scholarship.

“It was pretty obvious to see that he was the best of the people he was with that day and really stood out, which really got our attention and really pushed this thing along,” Weis said.

Jake Golic

Golic will be another wide receiver/tight end combination player for the Irish. He played wide receiver for Connecticut high school powerhouse Northwest Catholic and had eight touchdowns in his senior season. He was ranked the sixth-best player coming out of the state.

Golic, who was the very first recruit to sign with the Irish, becomes the fourth member of his family to play at Notre Dame. His father Mike Golic and uncle Bob Golic were linemen in the 1970s and 80s. His older brother, Mike Jr., is currently a freshman at Notre Dame and plays center for the team.

Zach Martin

Martin, the top ranked player in Indiana decided to stay in state and help fill a void at the offensive tackle position. He was ranked second in the Midwest behind fellow Irish recruit Chris Watt. Martin’s big frame makes him a potential wrecking force on the line.

“We think he’s going to be a big muchacho when it’s all said and done,” Weis said. “This guy is a guy that you watch games and you see several pancake blocks.”

Martin has 114 pancakes as a senior at Bishop Chatard High Sschool.

Theo Riddick

Riddick, who hails from Manville, N.J., is the final of Weis’ home-state recruits The versatile back rushed for over 4,000 yards in his high school career at Immaculata. Weis said his athleticism gives him the opportunity to play at running back, slot receiver or even as a defensive back.

Riddick was named the second-best offensive player in New Jersey. He has been leading his high school team to victory for many years. As a sophomore, he had 216 yards rushing and a game-clinching interception in the state title game.


Special Teams

Notre Dame also stocked up on kickers with this class. Ben Turk will be coming to South Bend as a punter from St. Thomas Aquinas in Davie, Fla. He was ranked the third best punter in the country this year and pinned 14 of his 28 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Turk will be joined by his high school long snapper, Jordan Cowart. Cowart served specifically as a long snapper for Aquinas and was perfect on his 370 career snaps. Both of these players will join Sam Young and Dan Wenger as alums of the Florida school.

The Irish also picked up placekicker Nick Tausch from Plano, Tex. Tausch was ranked the ninth-best kicker in the country after nailing field goals from 51 and 53 yards during his senior year.