Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tight End U | by Pat

The pipeline of top prep tight ends to ND continued with Cincinnati native Kyle Rudolph committing to Notre Dame on Monday. He's the fifth member of the Class of 2008. Rudolph visited Notre Dame earlier in March as part of ND's Junior Day and decided to end his recruiting early.

"Just being up there and being around guys who will be my future teammates ... the people are similar to the people I went to Catholic grade school with and Catholic high school with. It just makes sense."
At 6'7", 230 pounds, Rudolph will be a tempting red zone target for an offense that loves to feature the tight end. High school video highlights show that Rudolph is already adept at catching the jump ball TD pass, sometimes only needing one hand. Rudolph is also a very accomplished basketball player -- he's already a two-time conference player of the year in the GCL South -- and that shows up in his footwork on the football field, especially near the sidelines. If you want more highlights, you can check them out here and here. Rudolph's coach notes that he's a great player who will fit in well at ND.
"He's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime player," Ramsey said. "He has great hands, he runs great routes, and he's a great blocker. God gave him a lot of ability, but to his credit he's never rested on that and he works hard. I think he's in the perfect situation at Notre Dame, in an offense that uses the tight end a lot."
Rudolph chose ND early, but still had a pretty impressive recruiting cohort from which to choose. Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Miami, Virginia, Boston College, and Louisville were some of the programs that offered Kyle. And while the recruiting rankings are still being formulated, Rudolph is named to the Rivals "Top 250 to Watch" list as well as ESPN's Top 150 list. Getting an Ohio prospect that was offered so early by Ohio State is perhaps the most noteworthy part of Rudolph's recruitment; the Buckeyes haven't lost many in-state targets lately.

It also deserves mention that as with three of ND's other four public commits, Rudolph is from the midwest, which is Corwin Brown's recruiting area. We even had a quote from Kyle about Corwin in our previous post about Brown's impact on recruiting. Not that ND has had trouble recruiting tight ends from Catholic high schools before, but helping to get Rudolph away from Tressel is another sign that Corwin Brown is having an impact on ND's recruiting fortunes.

With the Rudolph commitment, ND has now landed their first choice --by that I mean the first guy offered -- at tight end for three straight years. Kyle will join Konrad Reuland, Will Yeatman, and Mike Ragone to form an incredibly deep and talented tight end corp. It is impressive what has happened to the tight end position under Coach Weis and Coach Parmalee. Not only has the recruiting been outstanding, but in the first two years ND has had two different players (Anthony Fasano, John Carlson) become Mackey Award finalists, with Carlson a near lock to make it three years in a row next season. And when Carlson heads off to the NFL, there will be four very talented successors looking to continue the streak, Rudolph included.