Friday, November 10, 2006

Little Big Man | by Pat

Two days after the Irish gained the 10th member of the Class of 2007, North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little announced his commitment to ND to become #11. At a high school press conference that was previously scheduled to announce his nomination to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Little took the opportunity to end a rather lengthy recruiting process by taking off the U.S. Army hat and donning one with an interlocking ND.

The opportunity to attend Notre Dame "was just something that I just couldn't turn down," he said. "Notre Dame is the biggest college stage right now that you could play for."
Recruited as a wide receiver by the Irish, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him wind up at running back (his main high school position), linebacker, or safety. At 6'3, 215 pounds, Little is an explosive athlete who put up a 40" vertical leap at one of the summer combines. Due to his combination of size, speed, and strength, the recruiting pundits are projecting him as a future star on whatever side of the ball he winds up. It does seem that Little is set on making it work at wide receiver, however. For a recruit as sought-after as him (more on that in a second) it's not uncommon for them to skip all of the summer combines as a bad time or bad performance could scare away the top programs that have already expressed serious interest. Little, on the other hand, attended a number of combines, and kept working out with the wide receivers to showcase his skills.

Both Rivals and Scout have him listed as a 4-star recruit with putting him on their Top 100 list at #77. ESPN's Scouts, Inc. has him listed as the 29th best player in the country, regardless of position. Most importantly, Little has one of the most impressive collections of scholarship offers in the nation. Joining the Irish in offering Little were schools like Ohio State, USC, Florida, and Michigan.

In the end, it actually came down to ND versus the home town North Carolina Tar Heels for Little in a crazy, rumor-filled recruitment that certainly kept the recruiting message boards busy. About a month ago, Little called a press conference, presumably to announce his college choice, but after a short delay, only announced that he had not made a decision and was still deciding between his two finalists: ND and UNC.

No doubt the mid-season firing of UNC head coach John Bunting played a role in the delay, but in the end the new coach didn't really matter. Little traveled to ND this past weekend for the UNC game where he made his choice for ND.
"It's a very family-oriented place," Little said. "It's just something I could really see myself fitting here."
It wasn't exactly a textbook recruiting story with Little, and I doubt it's completely over. I don't expect the new UNC head coach, especially if it's the as-rumored Butch Davis, to let Little go without a fight. But with the daunting task of replacing both Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight looming large, keeping Little in the fold will be a high priority of the Irish staff.