A Shaq for All Seasons
Due to work obligations, I did not see more than about a 10 minutes slice of tonight's game in the middle of the second quarter. From the sound of many throughout the internet and phone, it seems like I didn't miss much. I've actively sought out other members of the board here to provide a recap that would be rooted in actual observation of the game, but they all angrily hung up on me (testy bunch).
So I figured we might as well begin to close out the week with some good news - the recruiting front, where on Friday Notre Dame picked up it's 17th overall commitment for the class of 2009, and likely the final one from an offensive standpoint. This was no tack-on either: WR Shaquelle Evans of Inglewood, CA, a consensus Top 100 player, rated with four stars by Rivals and Scout. The 6'2, 200-pound playmaker was actually a dreaded "soft verbal" to USC before visiting South Bend for the Purdue game and absolutely falling in love with the place:
"Yeah, on my official visit there, I could tell right away that I belonged at Notre Dame," Evans said. "It just felt like home for me and I always told myself that I wasn't going to commit to a school just because of how good the program was or how close to home it was, it was always going to be where I felt the most comfortable.
"I really bonded well with everyone at Notre Dame, players and coaches. I loved the campus and I like the area as well. Some people were saying there's not much to do there socially but I'm not a big party person anyway so it was just a perfect fit for me."
Such is the presence Notre Dame still has, and has had, under Charlie Weis. Once again they waltzed into USC's backyard and secured the services of a player Pete Carroll and his staff targeted for their own - it's also worth noting that Evans' announcement came at the end of press conference where he formally accepted an invitation to San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American game. Fellow Irish commits Zeke Motta, Cierre Wood, Tyler Stockton, & Chris Watt will be there as well. It wasn't so long ago that Notre Dame would've been lucky to secure the pledge of just one participant in Tom Lemming's annual infomercial/football game.
Where the futures market is concerned, this regime differs greatly from its two predecessors. But out on the football field during the last two weeks, where the real measure of success lies, plenty has been done to unravel any progress, and make that distinction moot. Nobody denies that recruiting proficiency is a major currency for a program and its head coach. It's what makes college football the ultimate "pay-in-advance" business. A big part of the reason coaches like Nick Saban, Carroll, and Urban Meyer are where they are is because they out-hustle everybody from February through August so they can have the strongest team possible starting every September. Charlie Weis has stayed with them stride for stride in each of his four years on the job in that derby. Unfortunately, it's looking like the "Monopoly Money" of recruiting is the only thing allowing him to stave off bankruptcy.