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Recruiting: Irish turn their eyes toward 2012

Matt Gamber | Thursday, September 23, 2010

With 19 solid verbal commitments already secured for the Class of 2011, most of the Notre Dame staff’s limited game weekend recruiting efforts will be devoted to highly touted high school juniors, Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said.

“Right now, Notre Dame is just trying to get as many [Class of] 2012 kids on campus as they can and start qualifying them,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN affiliate Irish Sports Daily. “They want to see them, talk to them, hopefully see some game film, and start figuring out if they are their type of kids and will fit into what they want to do.”

Frank said at least three potential ESPN 150 juniors will visit Notre Dame this weekend: athlete Eli Harold, lineman Danny O’Brien and defensive back Brian Poole.

“It’s important to get a jump on the competition, for the kids to get to campus early and experience a game weekend,” Frank said. “It should be a big help when they’re trying to land some of these kids.”

Frank called Harold — a 6-foot-4, 215-pound athlete recruit who plays wide receiver for Ocean Lakes in Virginia Beach, Va. — a “big-time talent” who already boasts an impressive list and will likely end up as one of the nation’s top 100 players.

Poole, who hails from Bradenton, Fla., plays safety at Southeast High School — “a real storied program,” Frank said. He credited Irish wide receivers coach Tony Alford, who heads up recruiting in the Sunshine State, with building relationships with Florida coaches and recruits early in the process.

“He’s been doing his homework to get these guys up here,” Frank said.

O’Brien, a two-way lineman for Powers Catholic in Flint, Mich., has already received an offer from Tennessee and will likely be one of the Midwest’s most coveted players, Frank said.

While the recruiting emphasis might be on the Class of 2012, that doesn’t mean members of the Irish Class of 2011 won’t make the trip to Notre Dame. At least one current commit, linebacker Clay Burton, will make his official visit for the Stanford game, Frank said.

“He’s a very, very good defensive player, a guy who can get after the quarterback,” Frank said of Burton. “He plays in a fantastic league down in Florida. He has excellent athletic ability and a tremendous motor.

“He’s a really, really important player in this recruiting class.”

The current class has the look of a national top-10 group, but the key for Irish coach Brian Kelly will be to keep it intact. Frank said Kelly can improve those chances by leading Notre Dame to some victories.

“The teams they lost to are good football teams,” Frank said. “They’re showing that they’re extremely competitive, and I think kids will be okay with the Irish dropping a game here or there, as long as they are competitive.

“At some point, they’re going to have to start winning some of these games. It seems like they’re real close, they just need a little bit of luck or a ball to bounce their way.”