Sunday, June 12, 2005

Weis visits Davie | by Mike

Relax. The Davie the headline refers to is Davie High School, not the woeful Aggie himself. As a follow-up to Jay's chronicle of Charlie's spring odyssey, here is a closer look at what happens on one of Weis's stops.

In today's South Bend Tribune, Eric Hansen quoted James Aldridge's coach on the effect of Weis's visit

"He walked into my freshman biology class, and the kids were in awe, to say the least," Merrillville football coach Jeff Yelton said. "It was an honor and a privilege for this to be the first school in Indiana that coach Weis visited. And it wasn't just the players who got a kick out of it. The coaches, the whole community was excited.

"When he walked down the hall, you saw a lot of necks snapping around quickly."
Of course, Aldridge had already committed to Notre Dame. Did Charlie's visits have a similar effect at the schools of undecided prospects? According to the Salisbury (N.C.) Post, apparently so.

Highlights from an excellent Nick Bowton article on Weis's visit to cornerback Raeshon McNeil's high school. Chicks may dig the long ball, but top high school recruits are uniformly enamored with Super Bowl rings.
Weis, who offered McNeil a scholarship in early April, came to Davie to speak with football coach Doug Illing and principal Larry Bridgewater. Because of NCAA rules, Weis couldn't interact with McNeil, but the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back managed to catch a glimpse of Weis' Super Bowl rings.

A former NFL offensive coordinator, Weis owns four of them.

"Those rings were nice," said McNeil, a junior. "I bet a lot of people's wives would like to have diamonds that big."
However, recruits seem even more impressed with Charlie's decision to visit them personally than they are with his rings.
"I think that when I go into a high school, the fact that it's not just an assistant coach popping in there — it's also the head coach popping in there — sends a message," [said Weis].

That message? We want you. Really.

McNeil and Illing got the point.

"So far he's the only head coach that has come to see me," McNeil said. "And the fact that how prestigious he is, his background and all of that, made it even better."

Added Illing, who spent 45 minutes speaking with Weis and [defensive backs coach Bill] Lewis: "A lot of schools want you, they offer you a scholarship — which is good and everything — but how many times does a head coach come by to see you?

"You must be really, really high on their list when the head man takes time out of his day to come down to North Carolina and (you're) the only individual in North Carolina that he's coming to see."
Weis's personal visits also allowed him to deploy another of his important assets - his personality. By all accounts, Weis seems to be magnetic when interacting in person. Jason Kelly summarized Weis's presence nicely:
He has the personality to develop a rapport with recruits and coaches, the jewelry to establish credibility and, pardon the expression, the jewels to alter the prevailing negativity about Notre Dame.

At once confident and self-deprecating, a family man and a football-aholic, an elite leader and one of the guys, his presence can be approachable and imposing in the same breath.
There's no sense in keeping that charisma hidden in the football offices of the Joyce Center or out on the golf course.

Following Weis's visit to Mocksville, McNeil made a visit to Notre Dame the weekend of June 3, and left with Notre Dame atop his list. With McNeil planning a decision by the end of the summer, it may not be long before Weis begins to see concrete results from his nationalwide tour.