Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cornering the Market | by Pat

In perhaps the best news of the recruiting season, cornerback Darrin Walls announced at a small press conference on Monday morning that he will be attending the University of Notre Dame. (Here's a video link to the press conference care of Blue and Gold Illustrated.)

The 6'1", 180-lb Walls is a landmark recruit who's considered the #1 cornerback in the nation according to Rivals (and their 24th best player overall) and the #7 cornerback in the nation according to Scout. Recruiting top-flight cover corners has long been ND's recruiting achilles heel so the committment of Walls is extremely good news.

As it turns out, the press conference merely made public a preference that Walls had been feeling for a few months.

But Walls said he has known since the spring that Notre Dame was his top choice. He visited Notre Dame the first time in April for "junior day."

"It just felt like home to me. I took my other visits just to make sure," said Walls, who has been to Notre Dame three times. "I didn't silent verbal [to Notre Dame], but I knew that was where I wanted to go."

Walls attends Woodland Hills High School near Pittsburgh, PA where he has been starting on the varsity since his sophomore year. Recently the school has been a pipeline to Michigan, sending current Wolverines Steve Breaston and Ryan Mundy to Ann Arbor. In fact, the high school's nickname is the Wolverines, and the team helmet is of a similar design to the one used in Ann Arbor. (Re-education camp will begin at once.) In the end, Walls credited ND's 98% graduation rate as a big reason why he selected the Irish over other finalists Pitt, Michigan, Florida, USC, and a whole host of other schools.

Not that the other schools gave up easily. Pitt sent Walls over 40 handwritten letters the day before the press conference, and even Southern Cal made a last ditch effort.

Two weeks ago, Southern California's coaches called Walls in hopes of getting in the hunt, and the coaches had trouble accepting no.

"They kept passing the phone on to every one of their coaches, all the way down to [head coach] Pete Carroll," Darrin Walls Sr. said. "I finally got on the phone and said, 'Come on guys, this is badgering the kid.' "

ND's 19th known verbal commit, Walls plans on visiting Notre Dame for the Southern Cal game, and should be able to help persuade other top-shelf recruits who are coming in for the game. Hopefully they will come to same conclusion that Walls did.
"When I went on my visits, I compared Notre Dame to each school. Nothing compared to Notre Dame."
Notre Dame now has five defensive backs in this recruiting class: Walls and Raeshon McNeil are both pure corners, while Jashaad Gaines, Leonard Gordon, and Sergio Brown are safeties. On paper, this looks like a fantastic group. And with the impressive showings of young DB's Ambrose Wooden, Terrail Lambert, Leo Ferrine, and David Bruton, the future for the Irish backfield at this point seems pretty bright.

When's the last time we could say that?