Monday, July 14, 2008

Irish Land a Jewel with Watt

A watt, as we all remember from high school physics class, is one joule of energy per second. Notre Dame will looking for guard Chris Watt (Glen Ellyn, IL - Glenbard West HS) to provide plenty of power on its offensive line beginning next fall. The No. 2 player nationally at his position according to both Scout and Rivals, Watt had been a high-priority target with the Irish coaching staff for months on end. He was at Junior Day, multiple spring practices, the Blue-Gold game, and took several unofficial visits this summer. While it was no secret where the Irish coaching staff had him on their list, in choosing between finalists Notre Dame and Ohio State, Watt was looking for a comfort zone stretching far outside the coaches' room:
The makings of that decision arrived only a couple of weeks back, after the Glenbard West star visited campus and erased the last flicker of doubt in his mind.

"It was mostly just to spend time with the players," Watt said. "That's what really sealed the deal. I would say I liked it [before the visit], but I wasn't sure how I'd fit in."
There's been a ton said and written about how close the Class of 2008 became during the recruiting process, with Dayne Crist and Braxston Cave often singled out as the ringleaders of a group that developed an intense brotherhood long before Signing Day. It was that chemistry which convinced guys like Trevor Robinson to join the Irish late in the last cycle, and it sure looks like it's gonna continue to pay dividends in the future.

Watt will team with Alex Bullard to provide reinforcements along the interior of the line next fall; the Irish are now likely done with guard/center recruiting and will turn the rest of their o-line efforts towards bringing in at least two tackle candidates, a position that's likely to remain unsettled for some time, since top target Xavier Nixon won't be making any decisions until winter.

Assessing the latest member of the Class of '09 from a pure football persepctive, the universal consensus is that Watt, at 6'4" 280 lbs., can flat-out block. Both ESPN and Scout praise his penchant to reach the second level (i.e. not only knock his lineman off the ball, but continue charging downfield into the linebacking corps, a trait that ought to come in handy on screens and draws). Aside from being tabbed the #1 prospect in Illinois by leading recruiting services (in addition to a five-star rating from Scout, four from Rivals), Watt has drawn raves for his aggressive run blocking skills and is a classicly-sculpted interior lineman who goes all out on every play. The comparative "weak-spot" in the eyes recruiting evaluators has been his pass protection skills, but that's a skill that should develop with time for a player who possesses "great foot speed and agility". It's also always a nice bonus when "Nasty Streak" shows up in the positives column of the scouting report.

Speaking of streaks, Watt continues a strong one in the recruiting world of the Irish with regards to luring the top talent of greater Chicago to South Bend. While a repeat of last year's clean sweep through Cook County talent - when the Irish got Darius Fleming, Steve Filer, & Sean Cwynar - isn't in the offing, Watt's commitment demonstrates once again how serious Charlie Weis and his staff have been about getting what are essentially "local" kids to buy into the the ND program. There have been some painful misses (Martez Wilson comes to mind), and one elite-level Chicagoan unfortunately departed on acrimonious terms (Demetrius Jones) while another has since transferred in a bid for playing time elsewhere (Aaron Nagel), but it sure doesn't seem like there's been any drop-off in how hard Weis has gone after an area Notre Dame always thought of as home.


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