Sunday, June 04, 2006

Trattou Time | by Jay

New Jersey: the gift that keeps on giving. On Friday, Ramsey, NJ defensive end Justin Trattou committed to ND. The 6-3, 250-pound Trattou will likely be the top-rated defensive lineman in the state next season, and he sifted through about 20 different offers to narrow his choice down to Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, and ND. Trattou seemed pretty excited to join the Irish.

"Notre Dame has the best tradition in college football, and I just want to be part of it," Trattou told The Record of Hackensack, N.J. "It's a great atmosphere. I got along with everyone really well, the players and the coaches. I really believe I'm in a great spot, the right spot for me to succeed."
Described as "all but unblockable" by the NJ Journal, Trattou had 95 tackles and 10.5 sacks last season -- even though he was usually sitting on the bench by halftime, since Don Bosco Prep, perenially one of the best high school teams in the nation, had so many lopsided victories. (Bosco went 11-1, losing in the state championship final in what was a huge upset). Even at such a great football school, Trattou was starting on the varsity by the time he was a sophomore. He was such a standout that he was mistakenly invited to the Army All-American combine that year, an event that targets juniors.

Trattou will add some much-needed depth to the defensive line ranks. He's really quick for a guy his size, posting a 4.7 time in the 40, and yet there's speculation that he might be asked to bulk up and move inside to DT once he gets here.

One sidelight to the Trattou verbal, and following on the heels of the Ragone and Kamara commitments, is the strong recruiting presence that ND has reestablished in the Garden State. Charlie's all but planted a flag on the New Jersey turnpike, claiming everything from Hackensack to Cape May as Irish country. We're getting three of the top four prospects from the state this year, and judging from some of the quotes from coaches in the Trattou articles, there's bound to be more to come:
For years, Lou Taglieri couldn't figure it out. Oh sure, every once in awhile during his 11 years as an assistant football coach in New Jersey, Notre Dame would swoop in and recruit a Jersey player.

But it wasn't often.

"It was frustrating because we sent a lot of kids to colleges all over the country, and Notre Dame was rarely around," said Taglieri, now entering his second season as head coach at Hoboken High School. "We were saying to ourselves, 'What are we doing wrong? Why aren't our kids getting there?' It seemed like they were elite and we couldn't get our kids there.

"It's changed. [Weis] comes in and he's basically taken over New Jersey."

"I don't think it's the Jersey ties, I think he's able to maximize all that Notre Dame has to offer," said Greg Toal, coach at the Ramsey school. "I think Charlie Weis made them understand that the days of living off being Notre Dame are over and they have to work their butts off. And they realized they had to open up their purse strings. They're paying $2 million to Weis and paying more to assistants, and that is allowing them to attract better assistants and better recruiters. Those guys are real good and they work real hard."
Anyway, here's a quick review of the defensive line situation going forward. After Frome, Landri and Abiamiri leave after this year, we've got:
'07 Defensive Line Roster
Elig. Left
Defensive Tackle
Defensive End
5Y - T. Laws

5Y - D. Stephenson
SR - J. Brown
SR - R. Talley
JR - P. Kuntz

JR - D. Hand
SO - P. Mullen
SO - J. Ryan
SO - K. Wade

FR - K. Neal
FR - J. Trattou

Let's hope Trevor Laws sticks around for his fifth year, huh?