The hits keep coming for the Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame coaching staff as they landed another huge piece to their 2006 recruiting class puzzle by getting a commitment from the No. 1 cornerback in the nation, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Woodland Hills cornerback Darrin Walls.
Walls marks the first five-star prospect to join the Irish since the 2003 class when Baltimore (Md.) Gilman defensive end Victor Abiamiri pledged to Notre Dame ahead of a slew of big offers. Five-star tight end Greg Olsen, who has since transferred to Miami (Fla.), also signed with the Fighting Irish that same year.
Walls is the fifth defensive back to give Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame staff his verbal.
There were 11th hour rumblings, however, that he would pick Michigan or even the hometown Pitt Panthers, but many believed that Walls was a lock for the Irish after he pointed out that he would make his decision before his official visit to South Bend and stated that he didn't think the staff would have a problem with that after his decision.
That appeared to be just fine with Weis and company.
"I spoke to coach Weis about my official visit and he said he'd recruit me even if I didn't choose them," Walls said. "But now I can take my official visit on Oct. 15 as part of the program. I'm going to college to play football early, but the comfort level, my family's comfort level, and the academics and overall college experience are the most important factors."
"I feel I've made a great decision."
Walls spoke about academics all along and though teams like Michigan had two former players that hailed from his high school, it was that characteristic that was huge in landing the No. 24 rated prospect in the country for Notre Dame and company.
Brown stirs up the rumors with more visits
There may not be a harder prospect to figure out than four-star offensive tackle Aaron Brown from Cincinnati Princeton.
Brown appeared to be a lock to head to Ohio State in the beginning. But now the 6-foot-6, 290-pound prospect could be leaning towards Virginia Tech. Rumors have circled that the Hokies are who his dad is favoring at this time. There also is strong speculation that Notre Dame could be the favorite. This is because he took an official visit to Purdue last weekend and watched the Boilermakers lose to the Irish 49-28.
His dad said before the visit that no one should read into the Purdue visit.
"He wouldn't be going up there if he didn't like the school," Brown's father, George Brown said. "Coach Bill Legg has been recruiting him for more than a year."
Still more sources are saying that Ohio State is Brown's top choice and that other teams are still making a huge push to take over that lead.
His decision is set for Thursday. Stay tuned
Wolverines back in it with Barrie?
It appeared it would be hard for any program to get to the same level that Florida State has been on the mind of Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep offensive lineman Jim Barrie but it appears no one should count out Michigan just yet.
Barrie is starting to even things up with his latest update showing the Wolverines have an offensive line staff that he is impressed with.
"Michigan and Florida State are the top two," Barrie said. "Coach Andy Moeller and coach Mark McHale are two guys that I feel I could really play under. They are both great coaches."
Barrie will visit Ann Arbor the weekend of Nov. 19 when the Wolverines take on rival Ohio State. He also will take an official visit to Florida State. It appears that a battle of visits is shaping up to determine the final destination for the four-star rated prospect. He has stated that Notre Dame, Tennessee, and South Carolina are also in the running for trips.
Michigan, however, has to like its chances as they move their way up the list for Barrie.
Last year's class sparks Penn State vistors
Without a doubt, the biggest visitor list for the Nittany Lions is set for this weekend as they prepare to take on Ohio State.
Three prospects already have given their verbal commitments elsewhere, but are expected to take a strong look at Penn State.
The headliner of the trip is Maryland commit Antonio Logan-El, the state of Maryland's top prospect. The Rivals100 selection will decide in January where he'll be signing. The Penn State visit is interesting, though, because Logan-El has a good friend in last year's No. 1 prospect Derrick Williams, who starts as a freshman in Happy Valley.
LSU commitment Bani Gbadyu pledged to the Tigers in July, but could be looking around because of the situation in New Orleans, where his father was planning on moving, involving Hurricane Katrina. The Nittany Lions are in the thick of things.
"I'd say Penn State is No. 2 right now behind LSU and Georgia," Gbadyu told Mike Farrell of Rivals.com on Sept. 27. "Tennessee and Nebraska are right in there as well. Obviously the events down there (LSU) make you think a little bit about what can happen and my dad not being able to move to New Orleans, at least that's what it looks like, is a factor."
Gbadyu's coach, Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard's Dave Macerani told HuskersIllustrated.com that LSU fans have nothing to be concerned about.
"I don't think he's opening his recruitment back up at all," Macerani said. "He was a little disappointed he couldn't take his official visit to LSU when it was scheduled because of the hurricane, but he's going down there Oct. 15, and if the visit goes well, he'll stay committed."
Stay tuned on this one.
Four-star Auburn running back commit Benjamin Tate also highlights the star studded Penn State visitor list. The Tigers and Maryland have both received the first two trips and Penn State is up next, to be followed by Florida. In Tate's situation, it again is last year's top prospect that has the talented running back looking hard at PSU.
"(Derek) Williams was mostly just talking about school and what the coaches are like and what it's like to graduate early," Tate said. "That's what I'll be doing. I'm planning on graduating in December."
Other top prospects include four-star defensive tackle Jared Odrick and three-star prospects, running back Brandon James, linebacker Colin McCarthy, and defensive back Jacques Rickerson.
Purdue wins corner after loss
Despite the loss to Notre Dame, all was not lost this past weekend as Purdue managed to pull in a commitment from an unofficial visitor who saw the opportunity to make a big early contribution.
Though most Boilermaker fans could not have found many bright spots in the loss to the Irish, Trotwood (Ohio) Madison cornerback and No. 20 rated prospect in the state of Ohio saw all he needed to see in the stands.
"As you could tell from the game, they have a need at corner," Chappel said. "Zach Logan just said to me, 'you saw the game, we need corners.'"
Still, Chappel is thinking of making official visits to Pittsburgh and Michigan State. But many believe that he will not be going anywhere but Purdue come next year.
"I'm just getting out," Chappel said about possible visits.
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Editor's note: The Big 10 Blitz is a weekly look at recruiting among the 11 conference schools and Notre Dame.