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No D in ND

Irish struggle to recruit studs on defense; more notes

Posted: Monday January 29, 2007 4:18PM; Updated: Monday January 29, 2007 7:20PM
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Notre Dame's best defensive recruit is Gary Gray, a cornerback out of South Carolina.
Notre Dame's best defensive recruit is Gary Gray, a cornerback out of South Carolina.
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By Mike Farrell, Special to SI.com, Rivals.com

The offense hasn't been a problem for Notre Dame since Charlie Weis arrived in in South Bend, Ind.

However, the defense has been another story. In back-to-back bowl routs, the Irish defense has been victimized by Ohio State and LSU, respectively. Based on this year's recruiting results, the Irish will continue to struggle on D.

Weis hit a home run on the offensive side of the ball this year in recruiting, but he's come up short on defense. Weis wanted to add depth and speed at defensive end, defensive tackle and at linebacker, but finished second in many key recruiting battles.

As a result, the Irish will welcome only one defensive tackle, one defensive end and two linebackers.

The recent change of heart by Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco defensive end Justin Trattou, one of the earlier commitments to Notre Dame this recruiting year, is just the latest example of the Irish ending up as a bridesmaid for certain recruits.

Trattou, a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder, committed to Florida last week. He said the main reason for his decision was the fact that the Irish are changing to a 3-4 defense. Trattou is one of roughly six key defensive recruits that Notre Dame narrowly lost out on this recruiting season.

In his two years at Notre Dame, Weis' defense has given up 30 or more points in eight of 25 games. The lack of speed on that side of the ball has been evident. Weis did help the defensive backfield with a commitment from Columbia (S.C.) Richland Northeast's Gary Gray. The cornerback will join last year's cornerback duo of Raeshon McNeil and Darrin Walls. But until Weis can shore up the front seven, the Irish will likely have to outscore their tougher opponents to win.

Notes

Carolina WR still deciding: Burlington (N.C.) Cummings wide receiver Dwight Jones was the first commitment to North Carolina's '07 recruiting class. However, when coach John Bunting was fired and his recruiting coordinator -- Marvin Sanders -- was let go, Jones decided to look at other schools. After visits to Tennessee, Clemson and most recently North Carolina, Jones could take an official visit to Alabama before making his final decision. Jones grew up a big fan of North Carolina, but he's no longer a sure thing for the Tar Heels.

Huge weekend: Randy Shannon and his staff just hosted the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for the Miami, a weekend that will have quite an impact on the Hurricanes' 2007 recruiting efforts. Miami hosted two of South Florida's top prospects in Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central wide receiver Deonte Thompson and Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas safety Major Wright. Mississippi running back target Lee Chambers and Alabama athlete Marquis Maze also made visits over the weekend. The Hurricanes are also awaiting the return of quarterback target Robert Marve from Hawaii. The former Alabama commitment is expected to make his decision soon.

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