Notre Dame football recruiting: Irish making strides in Texas

TOM LEMMING
SBT Correspondent

How is Notre Dame doing in recruiting in Texas?

I would say average.

The Irish seem to strike out on a lot of great players. The effort is good there now, but the results aren’t there yet.

This year they seemed to be in on the top players early, which is what you have to do in that state. But so far, they have struck out on them.

The fact that they were in on guys tells me that the future bodes well.

Of all the places in the country where you could put a Notre Dame game, I think Dallas, the site of this weekend’s Shamrock Series game against Arizona State, is ideal. There’s so much talent there and a lot of the kids leave the area.

After Los Angeles, the Dallas metroplex might be the best place in the country right now for talent. Notre Dame is still in it for safety Jamal Adams, and cornerbacks Tony Brown and Nick Watkins. It was a great year in Texas for defensive backs.

Every year the Dallas-Fort Worth area is loaded, so I think a game like this helps ND’s exposure in the area. A game like this could attract a lot of players, and Notre Dame can invite players to the game.

Under Bob Davie, with Greg Mattison and Kirk Doll, Notre Dame probably had its best run in Texas. Names such as David Givens, Grant Irons, Travis Leitko and Cedric Hilliard come to mind.

For the last 13 years the guys they’ve brought in have been more B-list guys. But in Texas, B-list guys are as good as some of the players from the Midwest. However, to reach the A-list guys, this game could really help.

I mentioned that kids from the Dallas area tend to leave. They do so because there are so many good players and the biggest schools are TCU and SMU. They’re good, but they’re not giants. The huge schools — Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma — aren’t local.

In Texas, players often listen to their high school coach in terms of their college decision.

And that should help Notre Dame because of the academic and athletic reputations at ND. A lot of the coaches don’t mind their kids visiting Notre Dame.

I think the reason Davie was successful was because he, Mattison and Doll had been at Texas A&M and they had developed relationships with high school coaches.

Tony Alford has relationships with Florida coaches, Mike Denbrock with California coaches, and Notre Dame needs to develop those relationships with the Texas high school coaches, and they’ll get back to bringing in A-list guys.

The University of Texas being down this year will help Notre Dame. It’ll obviously help A&M, LSU and Oklahoma, too, although you don’t know what will happen with Oklahoma State because of the recent Sports Illustrated articles. Same with LSU because Les Miles was mentioned in the stories from his time at Oklahoma State.

Any academic-minded player now, with Texas suffering a bit, will look toward Notre Dame. Right now, most of the guys are gone, but there are still some out there.

Notre Dame is involved with Edwin Freeman, a linebacker from Arlington. Defensive ends Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas also are looking at ND.

Right now, A&M appears to be the team slightly ahead of Texas because of the Longhorns’ problems. But the one thing you can count on is that Mack Brown is a prolific recruiter, and a lot of people believe in him. He still has his supporters.

So Texas is still very dangerous in Texas, although A&M appears to have passed them a little bit. Oklahoma State might not be as successful because of the problems, then you’ve got Oklahoma and LSU right there.

Schools such as Arkansas, Notre Dame and Michigan will zoom in on the A-list guys but settle for the B-list guys, and that’s been the pattern for the past 10 years.

Arizona State, this week’s opponent, is a roster built on California, Arizona and Texas kids. They do very well in California, and they dominate Arizona. Some of the big in-state stars will go to USC, and Notre Dame landed Cole Luke last year, but for the most part they seem to be able to dominate Arizona. But Arizona, now under Rich Rodriguez, is starting to catch up.

Arizona State will come to Chicago now and then, and since the staff came from Pittsburgh, they’ll hit western Pennsylvania.

Fans stand as the American flag is marched on the field at AT&T stadium before the start of an NFL football game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)