Fully on board

Via the Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton, here’s some great stuff about the strength of the commitments among ND’s 2008 recruiting class:

Dayne Crist is a part-time Christmas tree salesman in Southern California and a full-time committed recruit for the Notre Dame football team. This means his hour-long break from hawking evergreens is a rare escape from needles, of any kind.

“You know who you’re talking to,” Crist said. “You’re talking to a kid from Los Angeles that’s sitting in the heart of USC country.”

The breadth and depth of the Irish’s miseries this season spared few from collateral damage, and indeed Notre Dame’s ballyhooed recruiting class endured more than a few caustic barbs.

Despite the slings and arrows that accompanied Notre Dame’s outrageous misfortune, though, that class so far is undeterred. Not a single component of what is widely considered the nation’s top talent haul has wavered publicly after the implosion of 2007.

Of course, some fallout zones were more toxic than others.

“It was just non-stop, people in my ear ‘Oh my God, you’re an idiot, why would you do that?’ ” Crist said. ” ‘You better get on the phone with [USC] coach [Pete] Carroll, I can’t believe you made a decision like this, you’re going to be terrible for the next four years.’ I heard it all.”

Similarly, here’s superstar Chicago linebacker Darius Fleming:

“We know what Notre Dame is all about,” said St. Rita linebacker Darius Fleming, who committed to the Irish in April. “We know that everyone has a bad year every now and then. Lately, Notre Dame hasn’t had that bad year. Unfortunately, this year was it. But we’re not going to let that continue.”

And Ohio’s Kyle Rudolph:

Never has one profession offered such compassion and selfless thinking, as coaches called Rudolph with the same refrain: It’s a big decision. We don’t want you to rush into it. We want you to check out all your options.

“They try to play that card,” Rudolph said. “Then they’ll be like, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to get into?’ They always pull that. I tell them, I’m solid with my commitment and I’m happy with my decision.”

How has the staff managed to keep these kids on board despite the awfulness of the 2007 season?

“The majority of guys landed before Notre Dame even started its season,” national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. “They had built up a relationship for a full year, so these kids seem almost like kin to the coaches, they’re tied in to what they’re saying and buy into being able to play right away.”

The Irish’s plan to match the recruits’ commitment apparently was a successful ploy. Notre Dame didn’t fax over game plans, but the staff apparently offered just enough of a taste, to where Crist felt “as if we were sitting in a meeting with the rest of the guys.”

“In some instances, they asked me to evaluate the game, they asked me what I think I can add to the program,” [Steve] Filer said.

The high level of camaraderie among the recruits hasn’t hurt, either:

[Charlie] Weis even remarked on the class essentially re-recruiting itself this season.

The running joke has offensive lineman Braxton Cave of Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., as the “East Coast Ambassador” while Crist monitors things from the West Coast.

“We’re always texting each other back and forth,” Crist said. “We feel it’s important to have that chemistry before getting into the school environment and team environment. Just getting a jump-start on what we’re going to be doing up there anyway.”

Said Fleming: “We just have a bond like crazy. I trust those guys like I’ve known them since I was born.”

Good, good stuff, and it fits 100% with everything else we’ve been hearing all year. Read the whole thing.

[UPDATE: Per GoshenGipper, pay no attention to what the Rivals folks are saying about Omar Hunter. More on the same here.]

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3 Responses to “Fully on board”

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