Not wasting any time at this past weekend's Junior Day, local boy Braxston Cave became Notre Dame's second verbal commitment of the 2008 recruiting class. The offensive lineman and Mishawaka native attends Penn High School and knew from the start where he wanted to go to college.
"Growing up in this area, it was always a dream of mine to wear that gold helmet one day," Cave said in a phone conversation Sunday afternoon. "When (Notre Dame football) Coach (Charlie) Weis told me to come in and see him (on Sunday morning), I didn't know what to think. When he offered me a scholarship, though, I didn't hesitate to say yes and tell him that ND was the place for me."Here's local TV video coverage of Cave's decision and why ND was the place for him over offers from Michigan and Indiana.
The 6'4", 290 pound junior is already nearly as strong as some college players with a reported 405 pound bench press and a strong showing at the US Army All-America Combine this past January where he put up 26 reps of 185 pounds in the bench press test. Cave is likely to start his ND career at center, although he also plays defensive tackle for his high school team. With Sullivan in his final year of eligibility this year, the starting center in 2008 won't be a foregone conclusion and it doesn't sound like Cave will have to spend too much time in the weight room catching up to the other players. The last offensive lineman that ND got from Penn High School was Mike Rosenthal and he started as a freshman so Cave does have a tradition of sorts to live up to.
At an earlier Junior Day back in January, Ron Powlus joked that Cave should be leading the tour of campus instead of him as Cave grew up coming to ND games. In fact, Braxston is named after former Irish player Braxston Banks after his parents took a liking to the name during the 1989 Blue-Gold game. It's always the case that the kids most sold on attending ND are the first ones to commit, but Golic and Cave this year have even stronger connections to the University than most early commits. As with Golic, ND isn't going to have to worry about Cave flipping to another school, despite the efforts of former neighbor and current Florida defensive coordinator Greg Mattison who has been texting him to remind him that the weather in Florida is warm and sunny instead of cold and snowy like South Bend.