Lemming: Notre Dame's top five recruits from state of New York

Tom Lemming
Tribune Correspondent

For Notre Dame, New York has always been an all-right state, but nothing great. There are a lot of Catholic schools there, so you’d think they could maybe do a little better than they have.

Ara Parseghian did a good job, and assistant Joe Yonto was a big part of it. Defensive lineman Walt Patulski ended up being the No. 1 pick in the draft, and kicker Bob Thomas, who helped the Irish win the 1973 national championship, was also a New York kid. Ara also landed brothers Larry and Gerry DiNardo from New York, as well as their cousin, Frank Pomarico. One guy who I’ve heard is one of the toughest players ND had under Ara is Jim Reilly.

I never thought Dan Devine was a great recruiter, but you’ve got to give him credit for doing well in New York. He had four All-Americans out of New York in one class, and John Scully, one of them, turned out pretty well. The big name, though, that year, was a guy named Mark Cvaja, a defensive end/tight end. This kid was a phenomenal athlete but got hurt and it cut his career. The other two were Ian Gray and Rob Bush. All four were high school All-Americans. It was Notre Dame’s biggest haul ever out of New York, but only Scully turned out. The next year they landed tight end Pete Houlihan.

With that said, here are the top five guys they’ve landed since I started covering recruiting in 1979:

5. OL Eric Olsen, 2006. He was overshadowed in an offensive line class that also included Sam Young, Dan Wenger and Chris Stewart. Olsen played at Brooklyn Poly Prep, the same school as current freshman defensive lineman Jay Hayes.

4. WR Bobby (Rob) Carpenter, 1987. This star from Amityville was a big name, a guy that everyone in the country was coming after. He went to Notre Dame before landing at Syracuse, where he had a great career in his two years there. Carpenter played in the NFL.

3. S Corny Southall, 1985. He was a member of Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team who came from Rochester. I really liked him and they used him in a lot of different ways. Lou Holtz really liked him.

2. DL Anthony Weaver, 1998. The year he was coming out of high school, the Saratoga Springs product was the only player I went to see in the state. Weaver had a solid career at Notre Dame and went on to play in the NFL.

1. RB Dorsey Levens, 1989. The Syracuse product spent two years at Notre Dame before transferring to Georgia Tech, and became an All-Pro running back with the Green Bay Packers. He was at Notre Dame when the school was absolutely loaded at running back – Jerome Bettis, Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks. Levens just got lost in the shuffle. He was on the cover on one of my magazines and was an All-American. Vinny Cerrato was right in the middle of landing great classes, and Levens was a great catch, but he just didn’t pan out at ND.

Overall, New York is a very populated state, but it’s not great in terms of turning out football players. There isn’t much football in heavily-populated Manhattan, and Long Island has hit the skids with football. In the 1980s there were some good players coming out of there, and Jim Brown is the best to ever come from New York, but they’re lucky to have one big-time guy a year now.

Staten Island isn’t doing as well as it used to either. Brooklyn Poly Prep is doing well. There are always a couple of guys in Buffalo, a couple in Rochester and a couple in Syracuse that make it a worthwhile state for Notre Dame, but not a whole lot.