Notre Dame made a push this weekend to lure Ryan Miller, one of the nation's top offensive linemen, away from his home state of Colorado. The official recruiting sites have said for a while now that this recruit was Colorado's to lose. This weekend, Coach Weis let Sam Young, last year's top offensive line recruit in the country and a true freshman starter, host the young recruit. Sam took Miller around campus and showed him all of the perks of attending the University of Notre Dame. Hanging out with a freshman starter who, by the time he graduates, will almost certainly be a first round draft pick can't hurt Notre Dame's chances for Miller. I'm pretty sure the kid was having a good time in the Bend this weekend, and although he is more comfortable with Colorado, where he is their #1 target, I'd be surprised if his visit this weekend doesn't give him pause. He got to hang out with a bunch of potential first (or near first) round draft picks in the junior and senior classes (Quinn, Samardzija, Abiamiri, Harris, Zbikowski, McKnight, Walker, Carlson). And that's just based on the improvement Weis has made in their games over the past two years. He's got to think about the fact that Weis has already shown his ability to develop NFL talent (Exhibit 1: Anthony Fasano).
If he really wants to do what is best for him, he should compare the number of NFL draft picks on the Colorado team to the number of first rounders at Notre Dame. If this kid picks Colorado, he'll be missing a huge opportunity.
Speaking of one-on-one battles, Notre Dame has several recruiting battles with schools that are really suffering right now. Of course there is Miller, who is choosing between ND and Colorado, but there is also Arrelious Benn, who is choosing between ND and Illinois, and Greg Little, who is choosing between ND and North Carolina.
I'm going out on a limb and guessing that Little might come to town during the Notre Dame - North Carolina game. And after Notre Dame stomps all over North Carolina on the field, Little will come to realize that Notre Dame is someplace special, and his best chance to play on Sundays.
Benn has already visited Notre Dame, and still seems to stubbornly be considering Illinois. Zook has always been a great recruiter, and he went after Benn's high school quarterback to improve his chances of landing Benn. However, the longer that Benn thinks about this decision, the more likely I think it is that he will pick ND. He can go play for an Illinois team whose highlight of each year is winning one Big Ten game, or for a Notre Dame team who is disappointed when they don't win ALL of their games, not just the ones against the Big Ten.
The only reason I can see why these kids would choose their in-state school over the Irish is that they think they would be the big man on campus. If they come to Notre Dame, they will be one in a long list of highly touted recruits at Notre Dame. However, the way Notre Dame is recruiting and winning, it isn't unreasonable to think that, after four years under Weis, almost every player that earns a starting position at the skill positions or offensive line will be drafted.
However, as a starting receiver for Illinois or North Carolina, or lineman at Colorado, the chances of getting drafted aren't as high. Illinois hasn't had a reciever drafted high since 1990. North Carolina hasn't since 1994. For Notre Dame you have to go all the way back to last year, when Maurice Stovall was taken in the 2nd round. Colorado is a little better than Illinois and North Carolina, with a first-round O-line pick back in 1997. Until you consider that Notre Dame had first rounders in 1999 and 2003.
But the past isn't the only barometer. The Irish have a projected first-round O-lineman THIS year in Ryan Harris. And a first round receiver THIS year in Jeff Samardzija. Even our second receiver will probably be picked in the first couple of rounds. In fact, Notre Dame has 4 players in Mel Kiper's first round projections. Illinois, Colorado, and North Carolina combine for an impressive zero players projected in the first round this year.
And while playing in the NFL isn't the only reason to choose a school, none of those schools compare favorably to Notre Dame in academics. Or facilities. Or championship aspirations. Or alumni support for after graduation.
For a non-elite player, I can understand wanting to go to one of these schools. Or, if there is another couple of elite players you get to play with, maybe you can make a run at one of these schools. But if you are truly an elite player, there are perhaps a half-dozen schools you should really consider if you want to reach the fullness of your potential. And Colorado, Illinois, and North Carolina aren't them. (except maybe in basketball...)