In addition, we'd like to highlight a few choice tidbits about each new recruit -- a little something to round out the picture if you will.
Iron Man. Defensive line recruit Patrick Kuntz played both offensive and defensive line all season for Indiana powerhouse Roncalli High School. That is, until he broke his arm in the sectionals of the state playoffs. After that, he took it easy. With the broken arm, he only played defense.
Double Dip. Quarterback Evan Sharpley is equally adept on the baseball diamond as well as the gridiron, and will be joining Jeff Samardzija as a combination football/baseball player for the Irish. Sharpley was an all-state third baseman for Marshall High in Michigan.
Mr. Versatility. While playing for a state championship in the final game of his high school career, Kyle McCarthy (DB) ran for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown, ran an interception back 93 yards for a touchdown, and also had two touchdown-saving tackles.
Shadow. David Grimes (WR) always seemed to be overlooked. He played in the shadow of his brother Carl Grimes, who was a national recruit last year, and Talonnie Russell, who is a national recruit this year. Carl and Talonnie were so great in high school that David hardly got much of a chance to contribute. Then his brother graduated and David really played well this year...in fact outplaying Russell according to most observers. David gets to square off against his big brother when the Irish meet Michigan State this year.
Olympian. Minnesota native Joey Hiben (TE) pulled off the unusual feat of qualifying for the state final in both the shot put and 110 meter hurdles his junior year. He ended up finishing 3rd in the hurdles and 9th in the shot put.
The Steal. David Bruton (DB) - came from a small school in Ohio that doesn't send many kids - if any - to Division 1A. And yet, he outperformed nationally-ranked Adam Myers White at the Ohio State camp according to all observers. David was pissed about Willingham getting fired ("I'm going to go ahead and say it," safety David Bruton said. "It was bulls--t. You can print that.") But Weis sold him on the new regime, and to his credit David honored his commitment.
Blocking back. Maryland offered Asaph Schwapp (FB) at their camp early last year, and he verballed to the Terps at one point. Maryland told him they'd pull the scholarship offer if he went to any other camps, but he went to ND anyway (on his own dime) and ended up with an offer from the Irish. “What really stood out was my size compared to everybody else they were recruiting,” the 6', 240lb Schwapp said. “I was a little bigger than everybody else. I moved pretty well compared to everybody else. Then when we did pad blocking I was knocking other kids out.”
Leatherneck. Valley Forge Military Academy cadet Michael Turkovich (OL) comes from the same alma mater as former general Norman Schwarzkopf, playwright Edward Albee, and Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald. That would be one hell of a dinner party lineup.
6'2, 300. That's Derrell Hand (DL), a fireplug of a defensive lineman who's still mobile enough to play tight end, which is what he did in high school. Big D also happens to be a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan despite the fact his new coach runs the offense for the Patriots. "I asked [Coach Weis] for the Super Bowl game plan," said Hand. "But he hasn't called me yet with [it]. I think he's scared I might snitch on him."
Ice to the Eskimos. Kevin Washington (LB/DB) committed to ND early, then wavered after the firing of Ty. Wisconsin got involved at that point, and ironically, it was Rob Ianello making the sales pitch. When Ianello was hired by ND, Washington reaffirmed his Irish status -- no doubt with a friendly push from Rob. Sidenote: for his senior season, he switched to quarterback because there was no one else who could play the position on his high school team. And he did pretty well, too.
Like Rudy, but with talent. Playing for a losing team gets old pretty quick, as Paul Duncan (OL) no doubt knows. In high school his team suffered eleven straight losses under the new coach before winning the last game of the season. Duncan constantly stressed the need to win in his recruiting interviews, but hesitated to pull the trigger on Notre Dame with Willingham as the head coach. "As a kid I grew up pulling for Notre Dame and it was my dream to play there". Landing Weis sealed the deal.
11th Hour. Things moved pretty quickly for Steve Quinn (LB) this week. Quinn had been committed to Penn State since last fall, but in the course of the last seven days 1) he expressed some private interest in the Irish, 2) word got back to ND that he might be considering a switch, 3) Charlie called and made an offer, 4) he came for a daylong visit last Sunday, meeting Weis in the airport for about an hour, and 5) decommitted from Penn State and cast his lot with the Irish. Whew.
Solid. In stark contrast to Quinn, Scott Smith (LB) has been a ND commit since way back in July of last year. No need to shop around: "I just love everything about the school." Period.
Majority Whip. By now we've all seen Ray Herring's (DB) famous recruiting diary for a Florida newspaper, but the kid just keeps cracking me up. There was a new entry yesterday where he dubbed Coach Weis "Hurricane Charlie":
That nickname popped into my head because Coach Weis took Notre Dame by storm and assembled the best coaching staff in college football. His offense is unpredictable and devastating and he makes a serious impact wherever he goes, just look at his history. I believe "Hurricane Charlie" is going to help us win at least one National Championship before I graduate from Notre Dame. My area has had four direct hits by hurricanes this year, one named Frances, one named Jeanne and two named Charlie. Three real bad and one real good!
Hurricane Charlie has himself a great bunch of guys as his first recruiting class. And even they aren't as starry and heralded a group as, say, USC's recruiting haul, here's hoping they're able to look back someday and say, "I was there at the beginning of a great run of Irish football." Best of luck to all of them.