Saturday, August 20, 2005

Rae of light | by Jay

By now you've probably read about prep player Raeshon McNeil casting his lot with ND and becoming the 12th recruit for ND's class of '06. We apologize for being a little late with our reaction, but seeing a top cornerback announce his decision live on ESPN, and actually pick the Irish, was enough to knock us out cold for a couple of days.

Getting a high quality corner to commit to Notre Dame, especially this early in the year, is almost as tough as getting my old roommate Mike to pick up a check. But Charlie & co's hard work earlier in the year paid off as McNeil selected the school he began to heavily consider after Coach Weis visited his school in Mocksville, NC back in May.

While many recruits give lip service to the importance of academics when chosing a school, McNeil, a near-4.0 student, made it a priority. He narrowed down his choice of schools to those that included his preferred college major: architecture. I've heard of a few players who majored in engineering over the years, but this is the first guy, to my recollection, who's going to be an Archie. (This should be interesting; I wonder how he'll manage the third-year-abroad in Rome with the demands of the football program.)

Raeshon also acknowledged that the lure of early playing time was pretty enticing:

"As it stands right now, I should be the only defensive back committed, and I think if I go in there and play well I should see action on the field pretty soon."
One of the best things about getting a highly ranked cornerback recruit like McNeil is that he's actually a cornerback. Sounds a bit funny, but let me explain. Notre Dame has had success in the past getting guys capable of playing the corner to attend Notre Dame; Ambrose Wooden and Terrail Lambert come to mind as recruits who selected the Irish over a large list of top-tier programs. But neither of them actually played cornerback extensively in high school (Wooden was his team's quarterback while Lambert was a linebacker in high school.) So while they certainly have the athletic ability to play it in college, they lacked the familarity with the position coming into Notre Dame. McNeil, on the other hand, is first and foremost a cornerback, and all that game experience will come in very handy and make the learning curve slightly less steep.

McNeil selected the Irish over most of the progams on the eastern seaboard (Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, etc.) and sounds pretty excited about his choice.
"It was a hard decision to make, packing up and leaving everything I have known for 17 years and going off somewhere new. But right now, I am looking forward to making some new friends and having a good time at Notre Dame."
You know, the only possible negative on McNeil's resume is the name of his high school, but I'm glad ND didn't shy away from taking a good look at the kid from Davie County High. He sounds like a perfect fit, for the team and for ND.