Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

There are simple maxims that every sports coach adheres to: run what you know. Play to your strengths. Follow the plan. In the case of Notre Dame football, that means recruiting well from traditional Catholic high school powerhouses.

Following in the footsteps of current juniors John Ryan and Robby Parris, linebacker/safety Dan Fox (Rocky River, OH) became the latest star from Cleveland-area titan St. Ignatius to join the Fighitng Irish football program. Like several others in the growing class of 2009, Fox has an extra colorful backstory: 70 years ago, a young Irishman named Richard Power had just arrived in Chicago from his homeland. At the height of the Depression, acting on a tip that one could find work at a small Catholic university in northwest Indiana, Power journeyed to South Bend and worked as a janitor on the Notre Dame campus from 1932-34. The money and contacts made by that job eventually led him back home to Ireland, where he married before returning to the United States for good in 1953.

One of Power's seven daughters now has a son heading back to South Bend, this time to join a deep corps of hard-hitting Irish linebackers. Talk about coming full circle. (If this story isn't used for at least one ESPN College Gameday feature, I'll be very disappointed.) For those who subscribe, both Irish Illustrated and Irish Eyes have write-ups on the generational connection. 

Measuring at 6'4, 215 pounds, Fox has a body frame that's yet to really hit the weight room - he doesn't have much time to spare in the offseason, as he is the classic three-sport star in football, basketball, and track. He looks similar to redshirt freshman Harrison Smith, a safety who figures to see the field at the linebacker position come fall (but he's NOT switching positions!). Fox figures to be an actual outside linebacker in the Irish scheme, smiling as he recalled how John Tentua pledged to blitz him off the edge...a lot.

Fox is Notre Dame's sixth public commitment and second linebacker in the 2009 cycle, which could be gaining more steam as summer gets into full swing. Another ND target who narrowed his choice to the Irish or Michigan, offensive guard Alex Bullard (Brentwood, TN), will announce his decision tomorrow.

To wrap things up, a mix of both offensive (Fox spends time at both wide receiver and a goalline fullback) and defensive highlights from the newest member of the Irish pledge class:

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