Monday, February 08, 2010

Final Day Decisions | by Pat

Wrapping up the individual recruit profiles before getting to the end of the season recruiting roundtable, here's a look at the two players that decided to pick ND on Signing Day. As it turns out, it was the player with perhaps the longest connection to the ND coaches and the one with the shortest.

First up on Wednesday was Ohio offensive lineman Matt James. James had been mulling a choice between ND, Ohio State, and the hometown Cincinnati Bearcats. When Kelly left for ND it dropped down to the Irish and Buckeyes with ND coming out on top last Wednesday.

"It was a really tough decision. ...I like the situation of being in the first class with Coach Kelly there."
Landing James was a much needed boost for the offensive line numbers in this recruiting class. The third lineman along with Christian Lombard and Tate Nichols, James is one of the highest rated members of the 2010 recruiting class. Rivals has James as a 4-star recruit, the #14 offensive tackle recruit, and the 86th overall recruit in the country. Scout likewise has James as a 4-star that is the 11th offensive tackle and 91st overall recruit. ESPN gave James a grade of 80, 4-stars, and echoed Rivals ranking of 14th overall offensive tackle. Highlight clips of offensive linemen are sort of silly, but here are ones of James nonetheless.

James played tackle and guard at the recent Army All-American Game but will likely start his Irish career at tackle. In addition to OSU, James also had offers from Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, and others.

Taking a look again at the OL depth chart for 2010, there are actually a pretty solid set of numbers across the board. In addition to just numbers, there is plenty of talent, albeit largely unexperienced on the depth chart. Consider that the senior, junior, sophomore, and now freshman class all contain an offensive lineman who is a Top 100 recruit. The competition to replace last year's starters will be an interesting one this spring, but almost as interesting will be the competition in the fall to see who makes up the second string.

5th Year
Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman
Dan Wenger
Andrew Nuss*
Trevor Robinson
Chris Watt*
Christian Lombard
Chris Stewart
Matt Romine*
Lane Clelland*
Zach Martin*
Tate Nichols

Taylor Dever*
Braxston Cave*
Alex Bullard*
Matt James

Mike Golic*

On the other side of the ball, Hawaii defensive end Kona Schwenke. Schwenke wasn't on ND's radar at all until the coaching staff ventured out into the Pacific to check out safety recruit Jeremy Ioane (who picked Boise State by the way). Schwenke was brought to ND's attention and they quickly worked to set up a visit.

However, Schwenke was committed to BYU at the time and when head coach found out about Schwenke's interest in visiting ND, he threatened to pull his offer if he went through with the trip. When the Schwenke family decided to go through with the trip, BYU pulled Kona's scholarship offer.

Despite showing up to late January South Bend in a pair of shorts, Schwenke didn't mind the cold enough to avoid picking ND.
"I pretty much made up my mind the day after I came back (Monday)," Schwenke said of Notre Dame. "I thought it was the best place for me. I liked the campus, the people, I enjoyed the school. I love the football program and their academics. It amazed me."
The Honolulu Advertiser released their Top 25 recruit list right before Signing Day and put Kona as the #1 recruit in the state. The recruiting sites are pretty close to agreement on Schwenke with Rivals calling him a 3-star recruit and the #34 defensive end while Scout has him as a 4-star and 33rd overall defensive end recruit. ESPN has him a bit lower at 3-stars, a 74 rating, and the 61st overall defensive end prospect. Here are some highlights of Kona in action.

At 6'5" 215 pounds, Schwenke will have to add some size and strength to his frame until he's ready to be an everydown type of player. However, he could wind up in a few seasons like KLM, who also had to bulk up to handle the DE position.

The best part about landing Schwenke is that he will help out at one of the most needed defensive positions on the team. He won't be an instant impact type player, but will help ND keep the overall DE numbers and could grow into a very good rush end.

Fifth Year
Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman

Kerry Neal
Ethan Johnson
Tyler Stockton*
Bruce Heggie

Emeka Nwankwo*
K. Lewis-Moore*

Kona Schwenke

Hafis Williams*