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Recruiting: Off-campus game brings pros, cons

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, November 18, 2010

Notre Dame may advertise Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium as a home game, but as far as recruiting is concerned, it is anything but. By holding the game off campus, the Irish are neither allowed to host recruits on official visits nor hold extended conversations with them, Irish recruiting expert Mike Frank said.

“What they can do is give recruits tickets to the games, so they can come to the game and see Notre Dame,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN.com-affiliate Irish Sports Daily. “They can’t really meet with them and have long conversations when it’s off-campus.”

Even without the official visits, Frank said the off-site games could serve a beneficial purpose for the Irish.

“It’s a good thing because there is a lot of talent in the Jersey, Philadelphia area, all that area, including some in New York State,” he said. “Just having them come to the game to actually see Notre Dame is a big deal. That was the whole idea of these off-site games, to increase the exposure.”

Frank estimated 20 to 25 recruits could watch the game from within Yankee Stadium to get a better feeling for Notre Dame.

“I suspect [running back] Savon Huggins will come in. [Linebacker] Ishaq Williams will be there,” Frank said. “And I think a bunch of guys in that area, class of 2012 kids, will come in and be introduced to Notre Dame football.”

Huggins, a four-star recruit from Jersey City, N.J., holds scholarship offers from numerous schools, including Florida, Oregon and Rutgers, and all of those schools — including Notre Dame — will have to wait a few months to learn Huggins’ final decision.

“Savon is going to visit a number of other schools,” Frank said. “He doesn’t plan to make a decision until Signing Day, so we won’t have a decision out of him for quite some time, but I do think Notre Dame is very much still in the race.

“I certainly do think they have a great shot, and it would help if they ran the ball on Saturday. Obviously last weekend they were able to and that is a good thing to show to running backs.”

Williams, another four-star recruit, from Brooklyn, N.Y., holds even more offers than Huggins — including Florida, Oregon and Rutgers again — and will likely hold off on his decision as well.

While having two dozen recruits at a game is typically considered a high number, Saturday’s game should affect many more Notre Dame recruits, Frank said. The 7 p.m. kickoff will increase the national audience, and catch the eyes of many potential Notre Dame players.

“Any time you can play in that type of environment, that is a good thing,” he said. “There are a lot of eyes out there wanting to watch this game. A lot of times, 17-year-old kids, recruits, are out there during the day hanging out with their buddies. They aren’t at home watching college football.

“You catch them at 7 p.m. before they go out in the evening, and show them something on the field, that can certainly have a tremendous effect.”

For more on Notre Dame recruiting, check out Mike Frank’s irishsportsdaily.com.���E-mail Mike at [email protected] and tell him The Observer sent you.