Monday, March 05, 2007


Coach Weis knows that Notre Dame has a national recruiting base, and that any given Irish player is as likely to be from Texas and California as Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

However, Coach Weis understands that he must lock down his "natural" recruiting area - Indiana and Chicago.

Purdue and Indiana can't compete with the Irish in football recruiting, and Illinois (when they aren't engaging in questionable recruiting practices) and Northwestern can't either. But Michigan just to the north and Ohio State just to the east are certainly able to challenge the Irish for local recruits.

Therefore, Coach Weis understands that he needs to build relationships with schools in the local recruiting area, and get to the Division I prospects early in the recruiting process.

Although the recruiting season is barely getting started, Coach Weis has already sent a message to other Division I schools: KEEP OUT.

He locked down commitments from two Indiana boys this week. Penn High School center Braxton Cave, a Mishawaka resident who grew up in the shadow of the Dome, received an offer from Coach Weis and immediately committed to the Irish. He's listed at 6'4" 295 lbs. He had interest from Michigan, Florida, Iowa, Purdue, and Indiana, but Coach Weis locked him down before any of the other big schools got around to seriously pursuing him.

The other commit is John Goodman, a 6'5" 190 lbs. wide receiver from Fort Wayne. One of my good friends was from Bishop Dwenger, and he was influential in getting this kid onto Notre Dame's radar. I talked with him for a while, and he told me about his conversations with Ron Powlus, the transition from Minter to Brown (Brown was reportedly far more impressed with Goodman than Minter was), and the impact of camps, visits, and other things on the recruitment of a kid like this. According to my buddy, Goodman was set to commit to Michigan, but held off in hopes of getting an offer from Coach Weis. This kid bleeds blue and gold, and even his reported visit to Florida is nothing to worry about.

While Indiana isn't a strong recruiting base to build a program on, getting the 2 or 3 top Indiana recruits every year gives Notre Dame a huge advantage for those times few and far between when a five-star prospect (ala James Aldridge) comes out of Indiana.

Chicago has traditionally produced a lot more talent than Indiana, and the addition of former Chicago Public League player Corwin Brown will help rebuild that pipeline - and I'm sure Coach Weis has made it a priority to review (and probably attend) CPL games, looking for that diamond in the rough and plucking them out before other schools even notice.

The foundation for every recruiting class should be a combination of kids from Indiana and Chicago - if the Irish can get 5 kids from that area, especially in areas of need, it permits the Irish to be more aggressive in recruiting kids out of other schools' backyards.

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