Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2014

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BY LOU SOMOGYI N ational Signing Day in college football is replete with celebra- tion and optimism, similar to the salad days of youth. The inevitable injuries, attrition and changes to come aren't mentioned that day because it's a buzz kill. The freshman class signed by Notre Dame in February 2011 — this year's seniors — is a prime exhibit of the upheaval, volatility and double-edged sword that comes with a highly publi- cized class. Recent history has revealed that the second go-round in recruiting for a Notre Dame coaching staff will rank among the largest and most star-stud- ded classes of the regime, if not the most. That's because the first recruiting class usually is a patchwork collec- tion thrown together on the fly when a coach is hired in December or Janu- ary. They try to hold the verbal com- mitments together during a transition phase and have no time to forge rela- tionships with new prospects, so usu- ally they fall short of recruiting goals. To compensate for the first-year woes, the staff then ratchets up the intensity on the next go-round. • Lou Holtz's second recruiting class in 1987 was the consensus No. 1 group in the nation and provided 10 or more sophomore starters in 1988 during the run to the national title, headlined by nose guard Chris Zorich, cornerback Todd Lyght, and offensive stars Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks. • Bob Davie's second recruiting class in 1998 was rated in the top three nationally and featured a dozen fu- ture NFL players — plus walk-on All- American cornerback Shane Walton. It would help lead the Irish to a BCS bid in 2000. • Tyrone Willingham's second re- cruiting class in 2003 was a top-10 haul and the heart and soul of back-to-back BCS bids in 2005-06. It featured first- round pick Brady Quinn at quarterback and five other players drafted in the first three rounds, not including two- time All-American wide receiver and THE REDEFINED CLASS Notre Dame's seniors have undergone huge attrition, position changes and comebacks

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