Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 3, 2016

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

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Page 44 of 55 OCT. 3, 2016 45 FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY COREY BODDEN P ennsylvania has provided many outstanding football players to Notre Dame. Quarterback Joe Montana (Monon- gahela), wide receiver and kick re- turner Raghib "Rocket" Ismail (Wilkes-Barre), running back Ricky Watters (Harrisburg) and end and Heisman Trophy winner Leon Hart (Turtle Creek) are a small portion of the list of players to put on a Notre Dame uniform from the Quaker State. More recent names include wide receiver and 2016 NFL first-round pick Will Fuller (Philadelphia), and current players like left tackle Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia) and run- ning back Josh Adams (Warrington). While the 2016 roster only includes three Pennsylvania natives, the num- ber is going to more than double if the current 2017 recruiting class sticks with the Irish. Four-star linebacker David Adams (Pittsburgh), four-star offensive line- man Robert Hainsey (Monroeville), three-star defensive lineman Kurt Hinish, four-star defensive lineman Donovan Jeter (Beaver Falls) and four-star offensive lineman Joshua Lugg (Wexford) all have committed to head coach Brian Kelly. In the 2018 class, four-star quar- terback Phil Jurkovec (Gibsonia) and four-star linebacker Matthew "Bo" Bauer (Erie) have both given early pledges to the Irish and are the highest-rated players among Notre Dame's six commitments. Rivals ranks Jurkovec as the No. 3 dual- threat quarterback and No. 57 over- all player in the junior class, while Bauer is listed as the No. 5 inside linebacker and No. 115 overall pros- pect nationally. Notre Dame is also in good stand- ing with the best player from the state and the nation's top tight end in the junior class, Camp Hill High tight end Zack Kuntz. Notre Dame is certainly affecting Pittsburgh and Penn State, which are vying to keep the top in-state players within Pennsylvania's borders. Los- ing Jeter to the Irish was a big blow to both schools. They were considered favorites for the 6-5, 255-pounder whose brother, Sheldon, is a senior on the Pittsburgh basketball team. More specifically, the Irish are hit- ting the Western Pennsylvania Inter- scholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) very hard. Of the seven players com- mitted to Notre Dame over the next two classes, Bauer is the only one who does not hail from the WPIAL. "Personally, I believe that playing in the WPIAL is just as big time as playing in Texas, Florida and Califor- nia," Lugg said. "I think Notre Dame getting all these guys from Western Pa. is finally put the WPIAL on the map as a football powerhouse area." The players from the state are all bonding as Notre Dame commits. However, the WPIAL players have to push the friendships aside when they square off against each other. "We're definitely all happy to be a part of these two classes and start- ing to bring back the movement of WPIAL players to Notre Dame," Lugg said. "Right now, though, we are enemies on the field because many of us play each other." Lugg was the first from the re- gion to commit to the Irish, and the continued addition of Pennsylvania players to the next two classes has been a plus. "I definitely can have faith in knowing that I'm going to college with a bunch of guys that I know pretty well and will be huge players for Notre Dame," Lugg said of his fellow Pennsylvanians. The commits are also trying to help continue growing the number of Pennsylvania players headed to South Bend and played a role in the recent commitment of Jeter. "Phil [Jurkovec] was on me hard," Jeter said when he committed. "He was the one on me the most." Notre Dame offered 30 players from Pennsylvania from the 2010 to the 2018 classes and has signed, or received commitments, from 11 for a success rate of 36.67 percent. Seven of those 11, though, are from the 2017 and 2018 classes. Notre Dame is trying to tap back into a state that has been very kind to the Irish in the past. ✦ Pennsylvania Has Been Good To The Irish Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec is one of seven Notre Dame commits in the classes of 2017 and 2018 from the state of Pennsylvania. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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