Posted: Friday January 4, 2008 1:48PM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 4:17PM
During Crist's formative years, he and Clausen worked out together at Steve Clarkson's Quarterback Academy in Pasadena, Calif. Both are take-charge types, but they played for different high school offenses. Clausen, who attended Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) ran more pro-style sets, which trained him to get the ball out on time. Crist, who unlike Clausen will not enroll a semester early this winter, ran more spread offense shotgun sets, which highlighted his strength and athleticism to make reads at the point of attack. "Dayne could have had easier situations if he stayed local and played at UCLA or Stanford," Clarkson says.
Notre Dame's national pull and Southern California alumni also helped recruit Crist. There they were, packs of Notre Dame families and fans trekking to his 7-on-7 passing tourneys from Saugus to Long Beach, Calif. last summer. "It was surreal to see them coming to throwing sessions like that," Crist says. "I loved the support, though."
Adding further intrigue to the signing of two Southern California quarterbacks in consecutive years is the expected enrollment of 6-5, 195-pound quarterback Nathaniel Montana, son of Joe, Notre Dame class of 1979. Perhaps the darkhorse of the class, Montana's oldest son, who also worked out with Clarkson, played just one season of high school ball at De La Salle in Concord, Calif. He will walk on with the Irish. "He is taller than dad but raw with potential," says Lemming. "He'll add needed depth to the position."
Even with all the verbal commitments, Weis remains in touch with the recruits. A year after losing three verbal commitments, only top-rated nose guard Omar Hunter of Buford (Ga.) has decommitted to date. The recruits still hear from other schools, who insist that choosing the mystique was a mistake. For Rudolph, it was then-Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who has since taken the head position at Duke, phoning once a week. Florida, which lured defensive lineman Justin Trattou after winning last year's title, also sought to have Rudolph visit Gainesville. Darius Fleming, a 6-3, 230-pound linebacker from Chicago's St. Rita, still has Michigan recruiters after him. "Those [Michigan] guys just won't take no for an answer," says Fleming, who committed last April.
Last month, Crist and several other recruits attended Notre Dame's football banquet. Though not yet officially in the program, the forward-thinking newcomers began to see the changes they can make. "That situation was not about us, it was for the guys who worked through last year," Crist says. "This week has been about getting to know each other. We're ready"
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