Diaco saga just the start as Irish sign 8 in top 100
By mark potash Staff Reporteremail@example.com
A topsy-turvy recruiting season ended in celebration for Notre Dame on Wednesday. Even war stories were instant classics.
Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s ‘‘interception’’ of Brooklyn, N.Y., defensive end Ishaq Williams already is bigger than life in South Bend. When Notre Dame discovered the 6-5, 225-pound Williams — ranked 42nd nationally by ESPNU — was getting ready to visit Penn State two weeks ago, Diaco flew to New York overnight, went to Williams’ home at 4:30 a.m. and made his best pitch.
Williams never made it to Penn State. Two days later he was on his way to South Bend. Four days later he was enrolled in school. The only way the Diaco-Ishaq story could become any bigger in Notre Dame lore is if Williams is as good as people think he is.
‘‘This is starting to sound like a miniseries — the Bob Diaco miniseries,’’ coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday while announcing Notre Dame’s 23-player recruiting class.
‘‘Bob did a great job in the recruiting process. But [defensive line coach] Mike Elston was involved. Mike was sitting in the car in front of [Williams’] house for four hours waiting for him after he played in the state championship game. In Bedford-Stuyvesant [in Brooklyn] . . . you don’t want to stick around anywhere for four hours..’’
The enrollment of Williams, plus the late re-commitments of 6-6, 240-pound All-America defensive end Aaron Lynch of Island Coast, Fla., and 6-5, 255-pound defensive end Stephon Tuitt of Monroe, Ga., gave Notre Dame a group of defensive line prospects that recruiting expert Tom Lemming called ‘‘the best in the country and the best they’ve brought in since 1990 [Bryant Young, Jim Flanigan, Oilver Gibson].’’
With the last-minute signing of 6-7, 240-pound tight end/defensive line prospect Troy Niklas of Servite, Calif. — who chose the Irish over USC and Stanford — Notre Dame’s recruiting class was ranked No. 1 by MaxPreps.com, No. 8 by Lemming, No. 9 by Rivals.com and No. 12 by ESPN.com.
Lynch switched his commitment from Notre Dame to Florida State before reconsidering. Tuitt de-committed and visited Auburn before re-committing to Notre Dame; linebacker Ben Councell of Asheville, N.C., wavered and considered South Carolina before re-committing.
‘‘Notre Dame did an absolutely fantastic job,’’ Lemming said. ‘‘They proved they would recruit with the big-time schools, which was a question because [the coaches] came from [smaller schools] .’’
Notre Dame’s recruiting class includes eight players ranked among the top 100 prospects by Lemming: Lynch (22), Tuitt (42), tight end Ben Koyack of Oil City, Pa. (54), offensive lineman Matt Hegarty of Aztec, N.M. (56), Williams (70), wide receiver DaVaris Daniels of Vernon Hills (75), quarterback Everett Golson of Myrtle Beach, S.C. (79) and wide receiver George Atkinson of Livermore, Calif. (83).
Lynch, Williams and Tuitt are considered candidates to play as true freshmen. Wide receivers Atkinson and Daniels and tight end Koyack also should get a shot. The wild card is Golson, a 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback who is enrolled in school and will participate in spring practice. It’s unlikely he’ll beat out Dayne Crist or Tommy Rees, but because his skills fit Kelly’s offense better than anyone else on the roster, he’ll get the chance in spring football.