Night game attracts top corners, running backs
Chris Allen | Thursday, September 20, 2012
The much-anticipated Saturday night matchup between No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 18 Michigan will attract more than students, fans and national media attention – it will attract dozens of football recruits from around the country to take in the action.
A total of 13 Notre Dame commitments and 18 other recruits from the 2013 and 2014 classes have been confirmed to be visiting campus this weekend and taking in the second night game at Notre Dame Stadium in as many seasons. Irish recruiting analyst Mike Frank said the growing tradition of night games at Notre Dame is an enormous draw for high school talent.
“Recruits love the night game. The atmosphere is just more exciting,” said Frank, who runs the ESPN-affiliated Irish Sports Daily. “The lights are on, the fans are a bit more rowdy, and that all impacts the game. It’s also just anticipation, you have to sit around and wait all day for this big rivalry game. Every college coach wants to get the recruits into an environment like that.”
The focus in recruiting this weekend will be on a group of seven players who have been offered scholarships by Notre Dame but have not yet committed to the program. Among the seven are a duo of cornerbacks, Cole Luke and L.J. Moore, who can add depth at a position the Irish recruiting staff is looking to improve. Luke is the fourth-ranked player in Arizona according to ESPN.
“I think [Luke and Moore] are both really good prospects. I think [cornerback] is certainly a position where Notre Dame is in need of some players,” Frank said. “They have two commitments right now in [2013 commitments] Rashad Kinlaw and Devin Butler, but it’s really important they land at least one more corner. Luke is one of the top corners in the country, when you look at rankings. He’s a guy who can run with just about anybody and likes to hit people.”
Another position under the microscope is the running back position. The Irish will graduate running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood this year and the coaching staff needs to build back depth at the position. Irish commitment Jamel James and Pittsburgh commitment Corey Clement will both be visiting campus this weekend, and the Irish have some selling to do to both players, Frank said.
“Clement has always made it known that even though he committed early, he still wanted to explore options at some other schools,” he said. “I think he likes Pittsburgh a great deal, but I think he sees opportunity at Notre Dame, too. I wouldn’t say he’s wavering, but he’s making sure Pitt is really where he wants to go.
“Even though he’s a commit, Jamel James has never been to Notre Dame before this weekend. You just don’t know until he visits whether he’s actually going to like it. This weekend is a big weekend to find out if it’s a match made in heaven.”