Monday, July 14, 2008

Recruiting steams along | by Pat

It's certainly been an eventful week for ND despite being the middle of July. On the recruiting front, ND picked up the third public commit of the week and 12th overall. Illinois offensive lineman Chris Watt had been going back and forth between the Irish and Ohio State before giving Charlie Weis the good news phone call yesterday.

"[Notre Dame] offers probably the best overall package I can possibly think of in college football at this point," Watt said.
Landing the 6'4" 270 pound Watt is fantastic news for the Irish as he is considered one of the better football players in the country this year. Both Rivals and Scout list Watt as the #46th overall recruit in the country and the 2nd best offensive guard. That translates to 5-star status on Scout and 4-star status on Rivals. ESPN is usually somewhat reserved in their review of recruits but was pretty effusive in praise of Watt.
Watt is a special player: an old-school tough guy who gives 100 percent every snap while playing two ways. With his athleticism and motor, he's sure to be a major contributor at the next level.
In addition to the offer from the Buckeyes, Watt had a long list of offers from Michigan, Oklahoma, Miami, Tennessee, Penn State, UCLA, Nebraska, Colorado, Virginia, Stanford, Northwestern, where his brother plays defensive line, and others.

Last year, Watt played both offensive and defensive line and was named 1st Team All-State for both. You can check out his highlight video here and see a few of the 120+ pancake blocks he notched last season. It's also not often you see a highlight tape of an offensive guard recruit that shows him blocking a punt....coming in off the edge.

The School Week website has a nice profile of Watt that details how he came to the attention of colleges and recruitniks alike.
In the second round against Morgan Park, Watt went up against defensive end Craig Drummond, a 6-5, 250-pound junior whom the football recruiting Web site considers “the best junior football prospect in the entire state of Illinois and one of the best overall prospects in the country.”

“Chris handled him the whole game,” Hetlet said. “And when coaches see that, it leads them to believe that Chris is a special player.”

It takes more than strength and size, Hetlet said. It takes determination. It takes a love for hitting – not just once but again and again.

“What makes him special is he finishes every play,” Hetlet said. “When you send film to Division I schools, they see that he has a great motor, that he doesn’t take any plays off.”

Watt said it’s too much fun to take any plays off.

“I think offensive line is the best position on the field,” Watt said. “You get to come off the ball. You’re already in the stance. You have power coming out of it. You get to knock somebody as hard as you can without getting in trouble for it.”
With Watt joining Bullard in the current recruiting class, ND has an excellent pair of interior linemen. When paired with last year's haul of Trevor Robinson, Braxston Cave, and Mike Golic, Jr., ND appears to have the makings of a very strong interior OL including two Top 50 recruits at the guard spots. Landing a top flight tackle is still one of the biggest priorities in this class, so hopefully seeing such high profile guards jump on board will be a big selling point.