Lemming: D.C. area has talent to mine for Notre Dame

Tom Lemming
Tribune Correspondent

The Washington D.C. area, where Notre Dame plays Navy Saturday night, is outstanding in terms of high school talent, one of the more underrated areas when you talk about lower Maryland, northern Virginia and D.C.

A lot of real good ballplayers come out of there, and Notre Dame has not hit it as hard as it probably should. Florida, Tennessee and Penn State are schools that invade that area, as well as the local schools. But it’s a loaded area.

Gerry Faust did real well in the area, and three of ND’s best players over the last 30 years came from that area. With that, here are five guys who are in close proximity who were big catches for the Irish.

• Allen Pinkett, RB, Sterling, Va., 1982-85. Pinkett, now the school’s radio analyst, was a heavily recruited running back and Notre Dame had to beat everybody for him. Even though he was short, he was a big-name guy that year.

• Eric Dorsey, DT, McLean, Va. 1982-85. Dorsey, Pinkett’s cousin, also is from the area. Even though they were in the same class, they didn’t visit Notre Dame on the same weekend. They both visited Notre Dame when the wind chill was minus-60, and the Indiana Toll Road was closed both Saturdays.

• Andy Heck, TE/OT, Annandale, Va., 1985-88. Like Pinkett and Dorsey, Heck was recruited to Notre Dame by Gerry Faust. He was an All-America tight end and I ranked him as one of the top three tight ends in the country that year. I remember visiting him where he worked. He was a lifeguard at a pool and he couldn’t get off work, so he brought his jersey with him to the pool and we took pictures that way.

• Andre Jones, DE, Hyattsville, Md., 1987-90. Jones, who passed away a few years ago, is the father of TJ Jones, now a rookie wide receiver with the Detroit Lions. Andre was yet another Faust guy, and he was recruited nationally. He was a real big name.

• B.J. Hawkins, QB, Woodbridge, Va., 1990. He was the quarterback in one of Notre Dame’s greatest classes, a group that had five No. 1 picks in Jerome Bettis, Tom Carter, Aaron Taylor, Jeff Burris and Bryant Young. It was a great class. Hawkins was a heavily recruited quarterback, but it didn’t work out. Rick Mirer and Kevin McDougal were there, and Ron Powlus was coming in. Hawkins left and I don’t know what happened to him after that.

All five of these guys are within a few miles of D.C. And then following are some of the top players that Notre Dame landed from D.C. itself.

• Malcolm Johnson, WR, 1995-98. He was a tall receiver who played well for Notre Dame.

• Clement Stokes, RB, 1995-97. He was fairly heavily recruited, not national, but mainly the eastern schools.

• Ty Barber, RB 1978-80. He was a good, but not great, back for the Irish.

• Joe Howard, SE, 1981-84. He was a punt returner, a small guy who was very explosive.

• Devin Butler, CB, 2013-present. He’s on the two-deep, behind classmate Cole Luke.

The suburbs had the big-name guys, but in D.C. itself, Notre Dame has never been able to really get it going in my opinion.

Now that it is in the ACC, Notre Dame should do better. There are a lot of Catholic and Christian schools that have good curriculums, so I’d like to see Notre Dame hit the area a little bit harder.

I think playing Maryland helps, as does playing Navy out there this weekend. There are a lot of good schools – DeMatha, Good Counsel, Archbishop Carroll, St. John’s. They should take big advantage of it.

Allen Pinkett is one of the top players Notre Dame has landed from the Washington D.C. area, writes recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. (Photo Courtesy Notre Dame)