Irish eyes aren't smiling

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Notre Dame lost a prized recruit to Penn State and another to Stanford, is battling USC and Florida for the leading prospect in California, isn't sure if it will land the son of former Irish star and NFL legend Joe Montana and continues to wait for Chicago area stars C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg and Chance Carter of Loyola to make up their minds.

Penn State wooed 6-3, 190-pound wide receiver Adrian Coxson of Baltimore, Md., away from Notre Dame. Credit Penn State assistant Larry Johnson, the Big 10's best recruiter, for pulling it off. Johnson turned down $400,000 to be Illinois' defensive coordinator to stay as defensive line coach at Penn State.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, recruiting the school's best class in 20 years, lured wide receiver Tai-ler Jones of Atlanta, Ga., away from Notre Dame and North Carolina. Last year, he caught 80 passes for 1,000 yards. Jones' father Andre played on a national championship team at Notre Dame and his mother attended the South Bend school.

The Irish have offered quarterback Nick Montana of Westlake Village, Calif., and 6-4, 230-pound running back/defensive end Anthony Barr of Los Angeles, who is rated as the No. 7 player in the nation.

Barr's father Tony Brooks was a member of Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team and his mother graduated from nearby St. Mary's. He has offers from nearly every major Division I program in the country.

Montana also has offers from Oklahoma and Georgia. Notre Dame has only two quarterbacks on scholarship and wants to sign two more. The Irish also have offered 6-4, 180-pound Austin Hinder of Steamboat Springs, Colo. The perception if Notre Dame lost Montana would be very negative but his brother is a freshman non-scholarship quarterback, a third-stringer, and speculation is that Joe Montana might not want his two sons competing against each other at his alma mater.

For whatever reason, many Irish fans anticipated that Carter, a defensive end, was going to commit to Notre Dame last week and were very upset when he supposedly backed off. He still is considering Notre Dame, Stanford and Nebraska.

Fiedorowicz, the top-rated prospect in Illinois and the No. 1 tight end in the nation, also irritated Irish fans who thought he was going to commit a month ago. Then Ohio State fans reported he had narrowed the field to Ohio State and Iowa. Not true. Fiedorowicz still is considering Iowa, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.

Fiedorowicz continues to visit other schools and receive more national exposure. A few days ago, nationally known sportscaster Pat Summerall and a television camera crew visited the youngster at his home for his "High School Stars in All Sports" segment.

Good for Fiedorwicz and others who visit many schools. They should compare one against the other. If you commit early, chances are you are getting bad advice unless you are closely connected to the school via family.

Michigan may be recruiting the No. 1 class in the Big 10 for 2010. Coach Rich Rodriguez has landed two five-star players in quarterback Devin Gardner of Inkster, Mich., and safety Marvin Robinson of Eagle River, Fla.

There are several good quarterback prospects in Illinois and Taylor Graham of Wheaton North, who recently was offered by Iowa, could emerge as best of all. He has size, athleticism, a good arm and good bloodlines. His father Kent played in the NFL. Potentially, he could be as good as any quarterback in the Midwest. All he lacks is experience. He missed most of last season with an injury. Another quarterback to watch is Tommy Rees of Lake Forest.

What's the latest with Ron Paulus, who was the top-rated quarterback in the nation as a high school senior but opted to play basketball at Duke? He may have narrowed his choice to Nebraska or Syracuse, both of whom have promised he can start immediately. But Purdue, Kansas State and others have called. The question is: How effective can he be after not touching a football while playing basketball for four years?

Fiedorowicz, Carter, offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd and wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West have committed to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next January in San Antonio. Defensive back Corey Cooper of Proviso East has committed to play in the UnderArmour all-star game.

Two other Chicago area prospects who have impressed me on film are 6-4, 280-pound offensive lineman Andy Gallik of Brother Rice and 6-3, 260-pound center/guard Jake Howe of McHenry.

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What about McKenna, the other starting O lineman from Brother Rice? I thought he was as good as Gallik, and one of the better Junior linemen I saw all year?

It isn't hard to believe the Irish are having a tough time recruiting. I would think that part of the reason is Coach Weis' tenuous situation in South Bend. Recruits have to be looking at him and wondering if he will be their coach for a full four years. What is the new coach doesn't value the players talents the same as Weis? You just have to look at the exodus of drop back QB's from Michigan to see what can happen in a coaching shift.

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on May 3, 2009 5:25 PM.

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