Thursday, February 12, 2009

Taste of the Islands

So, last Wednesday Notre Dame signed its recruiting class. It was a modest haul by many estimates, with the class ranking somewhere in the lower half of the top 25 by the major evaluation services - 24th by Scout, 20th by Rivals, 14th by ESPN - but the Irish got a big boost right at the finish with the signing of Manti Te'o:



Just to get an obligatory Anchorman quote out of the way, Te'o is kind of a big deal. People know him. He has many leather-bound scalps of running backs who've been flattened into the Earth by one of his hits, which you can scope out on numerous YouTube videos. He was also the consensus National Defensive Player of the Year whom the trudging, "bumbling" 7-6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat out the USC Trojans for. That's a nice accomplishment. It wouldn't hold a candle to actually beating them on the field of play, but don't discredit the effort that went in to convincing a player of Te'o's caliber to join the Irish. This was a great performance by Charlie Weis and his top recruiting lieutenant, much-maligned special teams coach Brian Polian.

Perhaps the biggest immediate impact Te'o might have is a psychological one, his presence alone seeming to help keep up the momentum from Notre Dame's bowl victory in Hawai'i. It also netted the Irish a small but speedy teammate in wide receiver Roby Toma, a now ex-UCLA commitment with a slight frame that still houses a 4.45 speed. Additionally, Te'o jumping on board was all the evidence that Oakland, CA linebacker/defensive end Chris Martin needed - he gave Weis his verbal commitment for the class of 2010 before the ink was dry on the 2009 letters of intent. He also has a pretty good spiel ready for the intense recruiting that follows instead of precedes a commitment these days:
“I call it a script, but it comes from the heart,” said the 6-foot-4, 232-pound junior defensive end/outside linebacker from Oakland, Calif., who last week verbally committed to Notre Dame to be part of its 2010 freshman football class.

“When other coaches call me, I’m going to be up front and honest,” the Bishop O’Dowd High standout said. “I’m going to say, ‘I appreciate the attention you’re giving me. But I’m committed to Notre Dame, and that commitment is solid.’ ”

Pause, pause. Click.
Here's the 3-minute slice of Weis on Signing Day courtesy of Rivals.

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