Friday, May 26, 2006

An Honor and a Privilege | by Pat

The recruiting odometer hit six on Thursday when Pennsylvania running back/linebacker Steve Paskorz committed to Notre Dame. The offer was barely out of Charlie's mouth before Paskorz pulled the trigger:

"Notre Dame was the school I had No. 1 in my heart," Paskorz said. "Coach Weis was at our school last Friday, and I kind of got the feeling they were going to offer shortly. "When I got on the phone, coach Weis said they had been debating whether to offer a scholarship or not. Then he said, 'I realized I'm the head coach and I want to offer you.' Right there, I said it would be an honor and a privilege to play for him."
I had to chuckle at the description of Charlie's back-and-forth thought process; however, the hesitation to offer Paskorz so early in the year is somewhat understandable. On one hand, the 6-2, 215-pound Paskorz is a record-setting running back for his Hampton High team in the football-crazy section of western Pennsylvania. As a sophomore, Paskorz lead the area in rushing, which was the first time in 26 years that a sophomore had done that. On the other hand, Paskorz suffered torn ligaments in his ankle that marred his junior campaign. Moreover, it appears that ND is really looking at Paskorz as a linebacker instead of a running back. So not only was Weis offering a kid with an eye of shifting him from his most comfortable position, he was also going after someone coming off a March surgery who was still on crutches for the Blue-Gold game.

Still, even with those qualifiers, Paskorz is still one of the better recruits in the country. Rivals tabbed him as a Top 100 player in their "pre-evaluation" list. Scout has him as a 4-star running back/linebacker candidate. Paskorz chose ND over offers from a good mix of schools such as Michigan (who reportedly wanted him on offense), Virginia, Iowa, Pitt, Ole Miss, and West Virginia.

While he's initially slotted at linebacker, Paskorz insists that he might end up toting the pigskin yet.
"Right now they have me on the board as a linebacker," Paskorz said. "But coach Weis says he really likes me at running back. He said when I come up there they're going to try me at both positions."
As a former two-time national finalist in the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick competition, who knows; maybe Paskorz will end up doing some special teams work as well. His coach, however, agrees with ND that outside linebacker is the future for the Hampton star.
"Steve is a kid you could probably put anywhere," Mihalik said. "But if I had to pick a position, he would probably be an outside linebacker-type of kid."
And he's got a perfect linebacker name to boot.

Let's take a step back for a second and look at the bigger recruiting picture. Charlie's just about done with his May evaluation trips across the country and so far recruiting is just about on track with the pace of last year. We've got six verbal commitments so far, while on May 27th of last year, Luke Schmidt became the 7th verbal committment of the Class of 2006.

And while last year was a great class, this one is on track to be even better. A quick comparison of last year's competition for our recruits to this year's:

RB Prince - Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan State
WR Gallup - Wisconsin, Boston College, Syracuse
QB Frazer - Penn State, Purdue, Georgia Tech
TE/DT Mullen - Nebraska, LSU, Michigan State
DE Wade - Illinois, Duke, Boston College, Kentucky
RB Aldridge - Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue
RB Schmidt - Indiana, Louisville, Purdue

DE Neal - Miami, Florida, Alabama
LB Nagel - Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue
QB Clausen - Southern Cal, Tennessee, everyone else
TE Ragone - Southern Cal, Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State
WR Kamara - Southern Cal, Miami, Penn State
RB/LB Paskorz - Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, Pitt, West Virginia