Sunday, January 18, 2009

America's Got Talent | by Pat

Continuing with my recent trend of covering all the weeks old news that's fit to print...

Slowly gaining more momentum and even more attention, the bifurcated high school all-star bowl season took place three weekends ago. According to the TV ratings, the NBC hosted US Army bowl on Saturday afternoon still edged out the ESPN hosted Under Armor All-American Bowl 1.7 to 1.0. But in only its second year, the UA Bowl certainly is making the move to be the more prominent end-of-the-recruiting-year all-star extravaganza. (I hope NBC doesn't turn the US Army Bowl into even more of a shameless ND commercial in a bid to keep Irish viewers if ESPN starts to get the upper-hand ratings-wise. On the other hand, I hope ESPN stops shamelessly moving players who commit to their game way up in their rankings.)

ESPN moved the game to prime time and the organizers were smart enough to sign up some of the better passing QBs. The US Army game didn't have as strong a QB crop and, combined with the attempt at running a spread offense on only a few days practice, the result was a pretty boring game aside from the predictable goofball declarations. Chris Watt, Tyler Stockton, and Zeke Motta all started in the US Army bowl, with Jake Golic, Cierre Wood, and Shaq Evans seeing time. Here's a quick video of the 6 together at the game. There isn't too much to report on their play either good or bad. If any of the readers watched either game and want to offer up their comments, go for it. The good news is that all made it through the game unscathed. Over in Florida, Zach Martin represented ND as the lone Irish commit and did a fine job blocking at the right tackle position.

The biggest recruiting news of the weekend for ND fans however wasn't even with one of the players in the games, or even with a current senior. Junior offensive tackle Christian Lombard became of the earlier commits I can remember by announcing his early decision to accept Notre Dame's early scholarship offer. Actually, he didn't even get to really announce it. While showcasing the 10 junior recruits who were already invited to next year's US Army game, Tom Lemming causally mentioned that Lombard, one of the invited 10, would be heading to ND. That Lombard was wearing an ND hat was a pretty big hint too I suppose. A few hours later, Lombard confirmed his intentions.

"I felt overall (Notre Dame) had the perfect blend of what I wanted," said Lombard, who has a 3.0 grade-point average and is considering studying business. "I got along with the players and I got to know the coaches really well.

"Most importantly if something was to go wrong in football, I can fall back on a great education from Notre Dame."

The first member of the Class of 2010, Lombard plays a need position for that class as an offensive tackle. Lombard had been to ND recently to watch the team practice before heading out to the Hawaii Bowl. That last trip more or less sealed the deal and Lombard decided there was no point in delaying the inevitable.

It's a bit silly that the recruiting sites already have Top 100 type lists out for the junior recruits, but since they do, here's where Lombard falls. He's a member of Rivals's unordered Top 250 list and is one of only 10 juniors in the nation to be given a 5-star on's Top 100. Now, while it's very impressive that ND already has a commitment from a recruit ranked nationally in the Top 10, keep in mind that of the intial members of Rivals's Top 100 list for the current senior recruits, only 47 are still on that list now. Things will change plenty over the next 12 months. Lombard also had a solid collection of early offers in addition to Notre Dame. He picked the Irish over offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Stanford, Iowa, and others.

The ND OL will be in a bit of a state of flux when Lombard shows up his freshman year. Obviously a lot can change in the 19 (!) months between now and when Lombard actually suits up for an ND practice, but here's a rough guesstimate of what the OL depth chart will look like minus Lombard and whatever freshman linemen join him.
LT - M. Romine (Sr), L. Clelland (Jr)
LG - T. Robinson (Jr), Nuss (Jr), Bullard (So)
C - Wenger (5th), Cave (Jr), Golic (Jr)
RG - C. Stewart (5th), C. Watt (So)
RT - Dever (Sr), Martin (So)
With Lombard now in the fold, it's time to archive those 2009 recruiting spreadsheets and prep the ones for the Class of 2010. What linemen will be suiting up alongside Lombard as 2010 freshmen? Only 381 recruiting days left to find out!