In this era of de-commitments--don't look now, but quarterback John Wienke of Tuscola just de-committed from Michigan and opted for Iowa--how has Notre Dame been able to circle the wagons and keep what every recruiting analyst agrees is the No. 1 class in the country in the wake of one of the most disappointing and embarrassing seasons in the proud history of Irish football?
Notre Dame just keeps getting better and better because of its organization. Charlie Weis is on the recruiting trail more than most head coaches. Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown, a Julian product, recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello and Dave Peloquin, the director of football operations, form a very effective sales team. Peloquin, a Notre Dame graduate, is unheralded. He is the son of the mayor of Blue Island and figures to be a future athletic director at a major college.
Notre Dame is doing a great job of recruiting because of the people. The organization has been set up for them to do well. There were in on the best juniors a year ago, worked them all year, built up relationships with foundations that were strong and able to overcome a bad season. That's what all schools need to do to be effective, to withstand a bad season.
The Irish just landed a commitment from another blue-chipper, 6-5, 300-pound offensive tackle Trevor Robinson of Elkhorn, Neb., one of the five best offensive linemen in the nation. Robinson originally committed to Nebraska but de-committed after the Bill Callahan firing and chose Notre Dame over Michigan. One college coach said Robinson is the best pass blocker he has seen.
Notre Dame now has 22 commitments as it looks ahead to the February signing period, 16 of them are All-Americans. The class is headed by quarterback Dayne Crist of California, wide receiver Michael Floyd of Minnesota, noseman Omar Hunter of Georgia and three Chicago area products--linebacker Stever Filer of Mount Carmel, defensive end Darius Fleming of St. Rita and lineman Sean Cwynar of Marian Central.
Hunter, a 6-1, 300-pounder, is a prime example of how Weis and his staff made an early contact and wooed a player away from his home state and other suitors. Georgia offered Hunter too late. So did USC.