Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dirty Dozen | by Pat

Recruiting hit the dozen mark when Maryland offensive lineman Lane Clelland decided to announce for Notre Dame last week. Schools were hot on the trail of the 6-5, 265-pound tackle, but after narrowing his list down to a handful, Clelland made the call and narrowed it down to one.

"All of the other programs did an awesome job recruiting me and they were awesome schools, and they've made it tough on me to make a decision. ... But I thought Notre Dame was a great program with phenomenal coaches, and the place where I thought I could do my best athletically and academically."
Clelland had offers from a list of schools with strong OL traditions including Florida, Michigan, Florida State, Nebraska, Virginia, and Boston College. He cut his list to ND and Michigan before deciding to choose ND.

The Irish are pegging him as a future left tackle. The recruiting sites have pretty high praise for Clelland: Scout lists him as a 4-star lineman, and ESPN has him on their Top 150 list. Rivals doesn't have any stars listed yet, but they do have some free highlight footage of Clelland here.

At 265 pounds, Clelland does sound a little light, especially in the era of 300+ pound high school lineman, but as a wrestler and baseball player Clelland likely has to keep his weight down to a certain degree. His brother, who was a four year starter at Northwestern on the offensive line, was similar in stature, but he finished college at 315 pounds. Then again, it appears that ND likes have "smaller", quicker lineman at left tackle. Ryan Harris is the obvious example, but given the opportunity this spring, Weis and Latina kept massive Sam Young at right tackle and groomed Paul Duncan -- still big, but not as big as Young -- at left tackle. Given the speed of pass rushers these days, quick feet and solid technique matter just as much if not more than bulk and pure strength. I like the fact that Clelland is a wrestler, as that can only help his balance and footwork.

Clelland gives ND a much-needed tackle to join guard-center prospects Mike Golic, Jr. and Braxston Cave in this class. It also means that there are only about 10 or 11 slots left. It's too early to try and nail down a specific checklist of which remaining positions need to be filled; sometimes you just have to take the best possible players even if it leaves you a spot short at one position. But I think it's safe to say that ND is still working hard on getting defensive backs, a wide receiver or two, a running back, plus a few more bodies for the offensive and defensive line. As the summer rolls on and some of the top prospects start to narrow their lists, what exactly ND will do with the remaining handful of open class slots will become clearer.