Friday, November 18, 2005

Action Jackson | by Pat

The dominos continue to fall. Yesterday, Florida prep wide receiver Richard Jackson announced at a press conference live on ESPN that he will attend the University of Notre Dame. Jackson was the second recruit to pick the Irish on Thursday following Chris Stewart's announcement earlier in the day, and became the 22nd known verbal to the Irish so far this year.

Jackson plays in the "big school" division in Florida and in 2004 was named 1st Team All-Central Florida, 1st Team All-Area, 1st Team All-District, and 2nd Team All-State. The 1st Team All-State wide receiver was Fred Rouse, who was the top-ranked receiver in the nation last year, so I think we can forgive Jackson for only getting 2nd Team as a junior. He was also named honorable mention All-State in basketball. The teams that were chasing Jackson include Miami and Georgia Tech, as well as Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Louisville, NC State, and South Carolina.

Jackson is the type of recruit that Notre Dame has had trouble getting in the past: he's a skill position player from Florida with offers from local schools like Miami, he grew up a Miami fan, and he wants to make a college decision primarily based on football. So it's no wonder Jackson likes what he's seen so far this season with Notre Dame's offense.

"There is a lot of tradition and a lot of history on the Notre Dame campus, and for someone like me who likes history, that was impressive," Jackson said. "The way Notre Dame has opened up its offense this year with [quarterback] Brady Quinn setting all kinds of passing records is great.

"Coach Weis has proved himself in the NFL and with what he has done at Notre Dame this year."
Still, it wasn't easy to get Jackson out of Florida. Visiting for the USC game, Jackson saw the campus at its best, and Weis really made an impression back during his recruiting trips earlier in the year.
"In all my 35 years of coaching, Coach Weis is the only head football coach who has been to one of my practices," East Ridge coach Bud O'Hara said. "That tells me he is really sincere about Richard and he is going to take care of him."
For those budding recruitniks out there, here is a free 5+ minute highlight video of Jackson; feel free to channel your inner Tom Lemming. (I understand the QB throwing the ball to Jackson in the video has the surname 'Batman'.)

Anyway, digging through some old's a report on Jackson written back in March.
Tremendous size, hard to keep on the line of scrimmage. Has a way of adjusting for the ball in the middle of a pass pattern. Has deceptive speed that is hard to judge unless you see it at ground level or play against him.

Watching film on Jackson can be misleading. He does things out of the view of the lens that you can only pick up by being there and watching. He is a "can't miss" prospect who seems to rise above all levels of competition.
Despite the state honors and an impressive scholarship offer list, recruiting reviews of Jackson are a bit varied. Rivals lists him as a 4-star WR and the 13th-best WR in the country, while Scout has him pegged as a 3-star guy, ranked 47th out of all receivers. Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel lists Jackson as the #5 recruit in all of Florida. This just goes to show that you shouldn't put too much faith into star rankings and such. We like to mention them for posterity, but such a wide range of opinion only goes to show that after perhaps the top 5 or 10 kids in the nation, the rest really are impossible to rank side by side.

With the recent flurry of commits, let's break down the recruiting numbers for the rest of the class. A couple of fast facts:

• Schools are only allowed to sign 25 recruits in February.

• Jackson is commit #22 for Notre Dame.

• However, Aldridge and Stewart are enrolling early, and will be counted against last year's class. (George West has also been rumored as an early admit, but for now, let's work with what we know for sure.)

• That brings the recruiting class to 20, with 5 slots open on board the Charlie Express (destination: Glory).

• So far, the haul looks like this:

Frazer, Jones
DE 2
Ryan, Wade
Aldridge, Prince, Schmidt
Gallup, Jackson, Parris, West
McNeil, Walls
Brown, Gaines, Gordon
Olsen, Stewart, Webb

• Looking at the balance of the class thus far, I'm guessing ND would probably would like to sign a few more offensive and defensive lineman and maybe another linebacker. As luck would have it, those are just the type of position players left on the board that are still considering the Irish.

We'll leave more of the specifics of who is leaning towards Notre Dame and who is a pipedream to the recruiting sites, but the names that keep popping up for those final few seats include TE Konrad Reuland, OL Matt Carufel, LB/DT Micah Johnson, OL Sam Young, OL Daniel Wenger, DL/OL Butch Lewis, DT Gerald McCoy, LB Toryan Smith, LB Anthony Lewis, WR Terrance Austin, OL Lou Eliades, and DT Jason Kates. The good news is all of those players are being heavily recruited by nearly everyone, which is a testament to their abilities. The bad news is that ND only will have room for 5 (or 6) of them.

Weis commented in a recent press conference that he plans on having recruiting nearly wrapped during the first few weeks of December and then start to really focus on junior recruiting. That means we should see the rest of the dominos fall pretty soon.