Posted by BrianBoru at 7/7/2009 3:08 PM EDT
It would seem that Charlie Weis and his football staff are not too concerned about their summer vacation plans. Capping a recent flurry of commitments, Illinois prep quarterback Tommy Rees pledged his services to Notre Dame, becoming the 11th player to join the Irish's class of 2010. Rees is the second quarterback in the fold for ND, joining Cincinnati's Andrew Hendrix.
Rees, a three-star prospect on both Rivals.com and Scout.com, was reported to have thrown pretty well at Notre Dame's one-day camp just last week. He's viewed as an insurance policy who will provide depth for a roster that could conceivably lose two quarterbacks after this year. Sure, Jimmy Clausen enters 2009 with two years of eligibility remaining, but if he can demonstrate that his performance against Hawaii on Christmas Eve was not a fluke, there is a pretty solid chance he will forego his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft next season. Clausen, who will be 22 years old in September, will not be as charitable with the football this season. Many of his interceptions were as a result of playing injured, brought on by playing behind a poor offensive line.
Fifth-year senior Evan Sharpley, who has played for the Irish since Gerry Faust was in South Bend, will return to provide depth at the quarterback position. Seriously, Sharpley's return is a boost for ND. His experience and guidance should be good for future star quarterback Dayne Crist, who will take over the reins of the offense when Clausen leaves.
Returning our focus to recruiting, Notre Dame received a surprise commitment from California defensive end Justin Utupo. Utupo, a three-star recruit per Rivals.com and Scout.com, chose the Irish over a host of offers from Pac 10 schools not named Southern Cal. Initially, of course, I was a bit concerned that the Trojans did not offer the kid — that is until I saw his film. As a general rule of thumb, high school film can be deceiving. Oftentimes, it is peppered with only the highlights — and rarely anything else. With that said, here is the link to Mr. Utupo's impressive film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45CQhAF40LY
Perhaps the recruit who has me the most excited is Chris Badger. Badger is a defensive back from Utah who hits with a purpose — and that purpose is to inflict a great deal of pain. Badger, who will remind Irish fans of former Stanford nemesis John Lynch, was actually committed to the Cardinal and Jim Harbaugh. Snatching the hard-hitting safety constitutes a coup for ND because his older brother played for Stanford and his father attended Stanford.
Also, it was a good message to send to Harbaugh that we did not appreciate him pilfering wide receiver Tailer Jones from our wish list. Jones, of course, is the son of former Irish defensive stalwart Andre Jones. Andre was an integral part of the '88 outfit which was the last team to (officially) win the National Title at Notre Dame — since we're not counting 1993, I suppose.
As for my feelings on the developing class of 2010...
I would like to see Weis exercise a bit more patience. The way I see it, the 2010 crop's success or failure will be directly linked to Notre Dame's season in 2009. If the Irish come out blowing opponents out of the water, running out to a nice start, they should draw plenty of interest from many of the elite talent within 2010's class. Most of the truly elite recruits drag out the recruiting process until very late in the season, sometimes waiting until National Signing Day in February. That's not to say that only Chris Martin and Christian Lombard — the Irish's only elite recruits thus far — will become headline players for Notre Dame. I could see Utupo developing into a headache for Irish opponents. He's the type of speedy defensive lineman who has given the Irish fits over the years. Badger, too, will probably leave his mark on the football program before he is graduated from Notre Dame.
However, if Notre Dame is to return to its rightful place atop college football, they must consistently lock horns with the big boys on the recruiting trail. Though recruiting is an inexact method by which to forecast future success, I would like to see the Irish run up against Southern Cal for a few more recruits. Wresting Manti Te'o and Shaq Evans from Pete Carroll last year was a good start. Both players ought to contribute for the Irish this season, with Te'o possibly starting.
The Trojans are Notre Dame's rival. They are Notre Dame's only rival. It's time to man up.
Finally, take a look at Chris Badger's film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT2-SoRRHAA
Gotta love the violence with which he plays.