Monday, April 23, 2007

Recruiting Double Dip | by Pat

During their trip to campus for the Blue-Gold game weekend, a pair of "F"s decided it was time to make a public commitment and join the ND Class of 2008. Chicago linebacker Darius Fleming committed first thing in the morning, and California tight end Joseph Fauria committed later in the day after talking things over with his family and Coach Weis. Fleming has been a regular visitor to spring practices and his commitment was hardly a surprise. Fauria, on the other hand, wasn't expected to make such a quick decision. Expected or not, the result was the same, and ND picked up its 9th and 10th members of the Class of 2008.

The commitment by Darius Fleming continues a strong Midwestern recruiting push by ND and also adds another player from the talent rich Chicago area. At 6'3", 230 pounds, Fleming plays mainly defensive end for his high school but will be an outside linebacker once he arrives at ND.

"I know the defense isn't the strong part of the team right now, but I feel the recruits that are coming in and coach Brown coming in, that he's going to be very successful teaching us the new style of defense that he's bringing."
Fleming is now the third linebacker recruit already this year, and of the three, Fleming comes in with the most recruiting fanfare. A 1st team All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-State selection at defensive end, Fleming picked ND over offers from Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Wisconsin and a handful of other schools. Scout lists Fleming as a 4-star recruit, rated the 49th overall recruit in the nation, and along with Dayne Crist and Anthony McDonald, Fleming is ND's third straight recruit listed on Scout's Top 100 list. Rivals still hasn't listed any rankings yet, but includes Fleming on their Top 100 "pre-evaulation" list. lists him as the 146th overall prospect on their initial Top 150 list.

(Fleming also rides horses and competes in rodeos, but no rodeo recruit rankings could be found. If they exist, I'm sure Fleming is a 5-star rodeo recruit).

You can watch Fleming's football highlights here. With Anthony McDonald and David Posluszny tentatively penciled in as inside linebackers and Fleming slotted for the outside, ND has plenty of flexibility for filling a fourth linebacker spot. At this point ND can hold out for talented linebacker targets like Chicago's Steven Filer, the first junior offered by Notre Dame, or someone like Arthur Brown, the nation's #1 rated player by at least one recruiting service. It's possible that the Irish will take five linebackers if more than one top recruit decide to join Corwin Brown's defense.

The other Blue-Gold weekend commit, Joesph Fauria, continues ND's run on talented tight ends and California natives. Listed at 6'8" and 240 pounds, he'll be the tallest player on the roster when he arrives on campus.

If the name Fauria seems familiar, it's because his uncle Christian Fauria is an 12-year NFL veteran who played tight end for Coach Weis in New England for three years and won two Super Bowls. And as you might suspect, his nephew took a lot of notes in watching how a pro tight end should play.
“I try to emulate a lot of tight ends, like Joe Newton (Oregon State) and Matt Spaeth (Minnesota). I would watch them the whole time. And of course, when I watch the NFL I watch my uncle. I’ll call him a day after the game and mess with him and tell him all the stuff he did wrong. I love watching the tight end block on runs and passes. I love how they’re used. I want to go to a school that uses their tight end a lot.”
Fauria, who grew up a Notre Dame fan, picked the Irish over offers from LSU, Nebraska, Colorado, Stanford, and UCLA. On Scout he's listed as a 4-star player while Rivals has him as part of their intial Top 250 list. You can check out his highlight videos here.

It's pretty impressive how ND is scooping up the top tight ends. In this class alone, 6'8" Fauria joins 6'7" Kyle Rudolph, now listed as a 5-star recruit on and the 25th overall recruit in the nation. That's a lot of height at the tight end position that will pay dividends in the run game and in the red zone. At the recent L.A. Nike Camp, Fauria impressed the recruitniks with his ability to catch the football and was listed as the top tight end at the camp. Rudolph, Fauria and Mike Ragone will give ND a potent combination of tight ends to succeed John Carlson, Konrad Reuland, and Will Yeatman.

Charlie Weis has left campus for his monthly trip around the country re-visiting current commits and dropping in on future prospects. Six of the ten current public commits are on the offensive side of the ball while four are on the defensive side. Expect that number to balance out as ND looks to solidify the defensive side. ND will ultimately wind up with between 20 to 23 players in this class, so the Irish are already about halfway home, and the class of 2008 is already looking very strong across the board.