Feb. 7, 2007
Eighteen high school seniors will have their names added to the University of Notre Dame’s football roster and play for the Irish beginning in 2007.
The 18 student-athletes come from 12 states: California (two), Florida (three), Illinois (two), Kansas, New Jersey (two), North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee (two) and Virginia.
As listed by position, the Irish add to their roster three offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three linebackers, two defensive backs, two running backs, two wide receivers, one quarterback, one tight end and one kicker/punter — though several of the players played multiple positions in high school and could move to other positions once they arrive on campus.
Three of those 18 players – running back Armando Allen, quarterback Jimmy Clausen and defensive back Gary Gray – already are attending the University. They enrolled in January, began taking classes for the spring 2007 semester and will be able to participate in Notre Dame’s spring football practices that begin March 21. The other 15 players have signed national letters of intent.
Among the 18 players are:
- Two members of the Parade prep All-America team – Clausen and wide receiver Duval Kamara.
- Three players received All-America accolades from USA Today – Clausen was named to the first team and awarded Offensive Player of the Year. Offensive lineman Matt Romine and Golden Tate were selected for the second team with Tate being chosen as an “athlete” on the second team.
- Seven players rated among the top 100 nationally by CSTV and Tom Lemming – Clausen (1st), tight end Mike Ragone (33rd), Allen (38th), Gray (54th), wide receiver Duval Kamara (55th), running back Robert Hughes (59th) and Tate (79th).
- Seven players rated among the top 100 nationally by Rivals.com – Clausen (1st), Kamara (34th), Allen (52nd), Romine (55th), Hughes (77th), Gray (78th) and Ragone (83rd).
- Five players rated among the top 100 nationally by Scout.com – Clausen (4th), Ragone (55th), Kamara (62nd), Hughes (71st) and Gray (72nd).
- Ten players rated among the top 150 nationally on the ESPN 150 list – Clausen (9th), Tate (11th), Gray (13th), defensive lineman Kerry Neal (26th), Kamara (36th), Ragone (55th), Romine (85th), defensive lineman Ian Williams (120th), Hughes (140th) and linebacker Brian Smith (150th).
- Six players named to National 100 list by Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Allen, Clausen, Gray, Hughes, Kamara and Ragone.
- Seven players selected for the U.S. Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio last month -Clausen, Gray, Hughes, Kamara, linebacker Aaron Nagel, Ragone and Romine.
- One player named Gatorade Player of the Year in his home state – defensive back Harrison Smith (Tennessee).
2007 FRESHMEN CLASS
|Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Hometown (High School)|
|Allen, Armando||RB||5-10||189||Opa Locka, FL (Hialeah-Miami Lakes)|
|Clausen, Jimmy||QB||6-3||207||Westlake Village, CA (Oaks Christian)|
|Dever, Taylor||OL||6-5||275||Grass Valley, CA (Nevada Union)|
|Gray, Gary||DB||5-11||178||Columbia, SC (Richland Northeast)|
|Hughes, Robert||RB||5-11||230||Chicago, IL (Hubbard)|
|Kamara, Duval||WR||6-4||205||Hoboken, NJ (Hoboken)|
|Nagel, Aaron||LB||6-1||215||Lemont, IL (Lemont)|
|Neal, Kerry||DL||6-3||230||Bunn, NC (Bunn)|
|Nuss, Andrew||DL||6-5||285||Ashburn, VA (Stone Bridge)|
|Nwankwo, Emeka||OL||6-4||280||Miramar, FL (Chaminade-Madonna Prep)|
|Paskorz, Steve||LB||6-1||210||Allison Park, PA (Hampton)|
|Ragone, Mike||TE||6-5||230||Cherry Hill, NJ (Camden Catholic)|
|Romine, Matt||OL||6-5||275||Tulsa, OK (Union)|
|Smith, Brian||LB||6-2||230||Overland Park, KS (St. Thomas Aquinas)|
|Smith, Harrison||DB||6-2||205||Knoxville, TN (Knoxville Catholic)|
|Tate, Golden||WR||6-0||190||Hendersonville, TN (Pope John Paul II)|
|Walker, Brandon||P/K||6-2||190||Findlay, OH (Findlay)|
|Williams, Ian||DL||6-2||295||Altamonte Springs, FL (Lyman)|
Allen, Armando, RB, 5-10, 189, Opa Locka, FL (Hialeah-Miami Lakes) – Named to Super Southern 100 by Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 2006 as one of 14 running backs . . . rated 38th best overall national prospect by CSTV – and eighth among running backs . . . rated 52nd nationally on Rivals.com Top 100 list, as well as 10th among Florida players and second among all-purpose backs . . . listed as one of 12 running backs on National 100 list by Fort Worth Star-Telegram . . . preseason broken fibula ended his 2006 senior season before it ever began at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Hialeah, Fla. . . . rated number-one senior prospect in Dade County on preseason basis for 2006 by Miami Herald . . . rated 12th on list of top Florida prospects at end of ’06 season by South Florida Sun-Sentinel . . . rushed for 1,095 yards and 12 TDs as junior in 2005, despite missing three games to injury . . . led Miami Lakes Trojans to 6-3 record and runner-up finish in Florida District 13-6A, plus regional quarterfinal slot in state playoffs in ’05 that produced loss to unbeaten Columbus . . . second-team Florida Class 6A all-state selection at running back as junior in 2005 by Florida Sports Writers Association . . . first-team all-Dade County pick as running back as junior in 2005 by Miami Herald . . . rated eighth-best overall prospect nationally – and second among running backs — on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News . . . one of top 33 running backs nationally on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview . . . rated 42nd national prospect (and seventh among running backs, 13th in the Southeast) on preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . ran 4.38 in the 40 (best of the 550 competitors) at the ’06 U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine where he was chosen the offensive MVP . . . selected for 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio but did not participate because of his injury . . . ran for more than 1,000 yards as sophomore in 2004 . . . missed half his freshman season after suffering broken wrist in his first varsity game . . . won Florida Class 4A state prep title with 13.82 clocking in 110-meter hurdles in 2006 as junior . . . named top male athlete at Hialeah-Miami Lakes as freshman, sophomore and junior . . . played for coach Jerry Hughes at Hialeah-Miami Lakes . . . enrolled at Notre Dame in January 2007 . . . from same high school as former LSU quarterback Rohan Davey and current Duke quarterback Thad Lewis . . . full name is Armando Allen, Jr. . . . born April 30, 1989.
Clausen, Jimmy, QB, 6-3, 207, Westlake Village, CA (Oaks Christian) – Received the Hall Trophy (actually called the Ball Park National High School Player of the Year Award) at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … Awarded since 2001, previous Hall Trophy recipients include: RB Kevin Jones (2001 – Virginia Tech), QB Chris Leak (2003 – Florida), RB Adrian Peterson (2004 – Oklahoma) and last year’s winner, QB Mitch Mustain (2006 – Arkansas) … Named USA Today Offensive Player of the Year … Received National High School Offensive Player of the Year Award from the Touchdown Club of Columbus (Ohio) and was named finalist for Sam B. Nicola award, presented annually to the top high school player … Named Co-Player of the Year by Parade and selected first-team All-America by the publication … one of 20 players named to the Best in the West list compiled by the Long Beach Press-Telegram … listed as one of 11 quarterbacks on National 100 list by Fort Worth Star-Telegram … named a first-team All-American by Scout.com … completed 194-of-281 passes for 3,428 yards and 49 touchdowns with only six interceptions in 15 games as a senior … also rushed for seven scores in final season … helped lead Oaks Christian to four consecutive CIF-Southern Section championships and tied the longest winning streak in section history as the Lions won 46 straight contests … never lost a game he started, finishing his career 42-0 … Oaks Christian was named the state team of the year by CalHiSports.com in 2006 after winning the Division III state bowl game and becoming only the second team in California history to finish a season with a 15-0 record … defeated Cardinal Newman H.S. in state championship, 27-20 in overtime, and finished season ranked sixth in the nation by USA Today … for his career, he passed for 10,764 yards and a state record 146 touchdown passes … completed 67.8 percent of his passes in high school, one of the best nationally in high school history, according to the National Federation of High School sports record book … ranked the No. 1 prospect in the nation by Rivals.com … named No. 4 national prospect by SuperPrep … rated the No. 1 quarterback in the country and ninth-best prospect on the ESPN 150 list … started for the West team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio … rated No. 1 player in the country in the 2006 preseason by The Sporting News SchoolSports … one of top 25 quarterbacks nationally on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview … rated the No. 1 prospect in the nation in the 2006 preseason by The Sporting News … named one of the top 50 high school seniors by Street & Smith and one of seven quarterbacks named to its All-America Team … completed 156-of-231 passes for 2,778 yards with 30 touchdowns and five interceptions as a junior … As a sophomore, he completed 227-of-329 passes for 3,665 yards with 58 touchdowns and six interceptions … played for coach Bill Redell at Oaks Christian … older brothers, Rick and Casey, both played quarterback at the University of Tennessee … enrolled at Notre Dame in January 2007 … full name is James R. Clausen … born Sept. 21, 1988.
Dever, Taylor, OL, 6-5, 275, Grass Valley, CA (Nevada Union) – (Dever rhymes with Never) – Rated as the 49th-best player and No. 8 offensive lineman in the Far West by SuperPrep … Scout.com rates him as the No. 29 offensive tackle in the nation and the 47th-best prospect in California … ranked the 39th-best tackle in the country and 60th-best prospect in California by Rivals.com … played for coach Dave Humphers at Nevada Union … full name is Anthony Taylor Dever … born May 6, 1989.
Gray, Gary, DB, 5-11, 178, Columbia, SC (Richland Northeast) – Rated 13th best prep player nationally on ESPN 150 listing . . . one of 12 defensive backs on National 100 list by Fort Worth Star-Telegram . . . named to Super Southern 100 team for 2006 by Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of eight cornerbacks . . . listed 78th player nationally by Rivals.com, as well as third among South Carolina players and ninth among cornerbacks . . . one of 11 players from South Carolina selected to All-Southern team by Orlando Sentinel . . . rated 54th best prospect nationally overall by CSTV – and third nationally among cornerbacks . . . first-team South Carolina all-state pick as defensive back for 2006 by both Associated Press and Columbia State . . . rated third on Columbia State Top 50 list of South Carolina players for 2006 . . . played quarterback in wing-T attack as senior in 2006 for Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, S.C. . . . made 24 tackles and intercepted one pass in ’06 . . . rushed for 1,028 yards on 127 carries in ’06 as option signalcaller and finished with 1,600 total yards and 11 touchdowns . . . also ran a kickoff back 88 yards for a score . . . had 60 tackles and broke up 14 passes and had four interceptions (one returned 65 yards for a TD) as junior cornerback in ’05 – and made 65 tackles with 19 pass breakups and three interceptions in eight games as sophomore in 2004 . . . also started three games at quarterback as sophomore on 7-4 team, throwing for 320 yards, rushing for 350 more and scoring six TDs . . . led Richland Northeast to 13-2 record and South Carolina Class 4A Division II title game in 2005 as junior . . . rated 21st-best overall national prospect – and first among defensive backs — for 2006 on preseason basis by The Sporting News . . . rated 14th-best defensive back prospect nationally (and 53rd overall in East) on preseason basis for 2006 by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . selected for U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and also played in Shrine Bowl between North and South Carolina stars . . . enrolled at Notre Dame in January 2007 . . . played for coach Jay Frye at Richland Northeast . . . born Jan. 6, 1989 . . . full name is Gary H. Gray.
Hughes, Robert, RB, 5-11, 230, Chicago, IL (Hubbard) – Selected for 2007 U.S. Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio … named first-team all-state by the Chicago Tribune after rushing for 1,780 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior … helped lead Hubbard to a 8-3 season and reached the second round of the state playoffs in his senior season … named to the Best of the Midwest team by the Detroit Free Press as the 14th-best prospect and No. 4 running back on the list … listed as one of 12 running backs, along with teammate Armando Allen, on National 100 list by Fort Worth Star-Telegram … named one of the top 50 high school seniors by Street & Smith and one of six running backs named to its All-America Team … rated the ninth-best running back in the nation by Scout.com and the second-best prospect in Illinois by the recruiting service … Rivals.com rates him the third-best player in Illinois, 14th-best running back prospect in the country and 77th-best player in the nation … rated the 13th-best running back in the nation by Tom Lemming … one of 11 Notre Dame signees chosen to the ESPN 150 list … rated 96th-best overall prospect nationally – and 15th among running backs, 17th-best player in the Midwest – on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports … one of top 33 running backs nationally on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview … ran for 1,920 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, adding 71 tackles and five sacks at nose tackle while helping Hubbard reach the Class 6A state semifinals … rushed for 1,000 yards as a freshman and 1,034 yards as a sophomore to earn all-area honors … attended the same high school as Indianapolis Colts defensive back Kelvin Hayden … played for coach Elton Harris at Hubbard … full name is Robert T. Hughes … born June 21, 1989.
Kamara, Duval, WR, 6-4, 205, Hoboken, NJ (Hoboken) – (Kuh-MAR-uh, Do-VALL – rhymes with HALL) – Selected for U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio … named to the Parade All-America team, one of eight wide receivers to make the squad … rated the No. 1 prospect in New Jersey by Rivals.com, the sixth-best wide receiver in the nation and 34th-best prospect in the nation by the recruiting website … rated the seventh-best wide receiver in the country by Tom Lemming … listed as the No. 8 wide receiver and 36th-best prospect on the ESPN 150 list … rated the No. 8 wide receiver in the country and third-best prospect in New Jersey by Scout.com … listed as one of 13 wide receivers on National 100 list by Fort Worth Star-Telegram … earned first-team all-state accolades as a senior from the Associated Press and Newark Star-Ledger after recording 33 receptions for 560 yards and nine touchdowns … named to the Scout.com National 100 list following his senior year where he was the seventh-ranked wide receiver and the No. 63 prospect overall … rated 65th-best prospect in the country – and No. 12 among wide receivers, 16th-best player in the East – on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports … one of top 24 wide receivers nationally on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview … named second-team all-state as a junior by the Star-Ledger after catching 39 passes for 775 yards and 11 touchdowns … ended his high school career with 125 catches for 2,696 yards and 50 touchdowns … great downfield blocker helped his running back rush for 2,204 yards with 35 touchdowns in Kamara’s senior season … played for coach Lou Taglieri at Hoboken … full name s Duval L. Kamara … born Feb. 19, 1989.
Nagel, Aaron, LB, 6-1, 215, Lemont, IL (Lemont) – Selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio … received the Doc Blanchard Award for the East team at the All-American Bowl, awarded to the player that best combines community service, football skills and grades … tallied 69 tackles and forced four fumbles in senior season despite missing four games with a knee injury … also rushed for 980 yards and averaged close to 10 yards per catch in just over seven games … named first-team all-state as a senior by the Chicago Tribune as a linebacker … Scout.com has him listed as the No. 14 weakside linebacker in the nation and 10th-best prospect in Illinois … rated the 11th-best player in Illinois and the 41st-best outside linebacker in the nation by Rivals.com … tabbed the eighth-best outside linebacker … rated the 58th-best player in the Midwest in the 2006 preseason by The Sporting News SchoolSports … played for coach Eric Michaelson at Lemont … full name is Aaron C. Nagel … born Aug. 22, 1988.
Neal, Kerry, DL, 6-3, 230, Bunn, NC (Bunn) – Rated 26th prep player nationally on ESPN 150 listing . . . listed as 22nd defensive end nationally by CSTV . . . first-team North Carolina Class 2A all-state pick as defensive lineman by NCPreps.com . . . rated among top 10 players in North Carolina and among top 20 weakside defensive ends nationally by Rivals.com . . . played both defensive end and outside linebacker as senior at Bunn High School in Bunn, N.C. . . . recorded 132 overall tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, four interceptions and forced 12 fumbles as senior in 2006 . . . returned two interceptions for touchdowns as senior and also played some tight end on offense . . . played cornerback as sophomore, then weakside defensive end/outside linebacker/tight end as a junior . . . had 118 tackles, 15 sacks, 15 passes broken up and two interceptions as junior in ’05 . . . caught 16 passes for 323 yards and six TDs as junior in ’05 . . . named conference player of the year on defense as junior in ’05 . . . rated 96th-best overall prospect in East on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . a starter at cornerback as a freshman in 2003 . . . selected as the first 2006 Carolina Panthers Community Captain, based on his athletics and academic accomplishments as well as his work with special-needs students at Bunn High School and his mentoring of elementary students in the Bunn area . . . played for North Carolina team in Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas against South Carolina prep stars . . . forced one fumble that led to a field goal and recovered another in 23-16 North Carolina win in that contest . . . made nine tackles and a sack to lead East team in MSL Sports’ East Meets West all-star game in Orlando, Fla., in January 2007 . . . played for Bunn coach David Howle . . . born Aug. 30, 1988 . . . full name is Kerry L. Neal.
Nuss, Andrew, OL, 6-5, 285, Ashburn, VA (Stone Bridge) – Selected to play in the inaugural Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. with future teammate Golden Tate … named to the all-Metro first-team offense by the Washington Post after helping the Bulldogs rush for over 3,000 yards as a senior … ranked the second-best offensive lineman in Virginia and No. 9 player in the state by the Roanoke Times … rated the ninth-best prospect in Virginia and 22nd-best offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com … rated the 18th-best interior lineman in the country by Tom Lemming … Scout.com lists him as the 52nd-best offensive tackle in the country and the 20th-best prospect in Virginia … named to the 2006 all-Metro team by the Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C. … rated 87th-best player in the East in the preseason by The Sporting News SchoolSports … as a senior, blocked for a running back that shattered the school record with 1,744 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns … high school started 10-0 before falling in the Group AAA Northern Region Division 5 championship this past season … helped his high school reach the Group AAA Division 5 championship game as a junior … played for coach Mickey Thompson at Stone Bridge … full name is Andrew J. Nuss … born Dec. 7, 1988.
Nwankwo, Emeka, OL, 6-4, 280, Miramar, FL (Chaminade-Madonna Prep) – (Nuh-WANK-woh, uh-MEK-uh) – First-team Florida Class 2A all-state offensive lineman for 2006 by Florida Sports Writers Association . . . named to all-Broward County first teams as offensive lineman by both Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel . . . credited with 60 pancake blocks and 70 knockdowns as senior in ’06 at Chaminade-Madonna College Prep in Hollywood, Fla. . . . helped Lions to 10-3 record as senior, including semifinal appearance in Florida Class 2A state playoff semifinals . . . rated 14th on list of top Florida prospects at end of ’06 by South Florida Sun-Sentinel . . . Chaminade finished third in final FSWA Class 2A poll after 8-2 regular-season mark . . . named to Super 11 2006 preseason team for Broward County by South Florida Sun-Sentinel . . . rated 64th best prospect in Southeast on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . high school team was rated 19th nationally on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . helped team to 11-2 mark and Florida Class 2A title as junior in ’05, making 22 pancake blocks and recovering a fumble . . . helped Lions rush for more than 2,200 yards in ’05 . . . all-Broward County selection as junior on offensive line by Miami Herald . . . played defensive tackle in ’04 as sophomore at North Miami Beach High School, then switched to offensive line as junior . . . played for Team USA in 2007 NFL Global Junior Championship XI in Ft. Lauderdale against teams from Canada, Mexico, Panama, France and Japan as part of Super Bowl XLI festivities . . . older sister is a sophomore at Florida . . . played for Chaminade-Madonna Prep coach Mark Guandolo . . . also played basketball at Chaminade-Madonna as senior . . . born in Boston – his family is originally from Nigeria . . . born Sept. 24, 1988 . . . full name is Chukwuemek Chibuzor Nwankwo.
Paskorz, Steve, LB, 6-2, 215, Allison Park, PA (Hampton) – Rated the 29th-best prospect and No. 3 linebacker in Pennsylvania … rated the 10th-best player in Pennsylvania and 29th-best player in the “athlete” category in the nation by Rivals.com … rated the seventh-best inside linebacker by Tom Lemming … Scout.com has him listed as the No. 36 strongside linebacker in the nation and the 29th-best prospect in Pennsylvania … Missed much of his senior season with a hamstring injury … named first-team all-state by the Pennsylvania Associated Press in 2005 as an all-purpose player on the first-team defense – one of just four juniors on the 28-player first-team all-state roster … also played running back in high school, becoming just the 35th player in Pennsylvania high school history to rush for at least 4,000 yards in his career … rated the 20th-best running back nationally and 43rd-best player in the East for 2006 on preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports … one of top 33 running backs nationally on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview … rated the fifth-best prospect in the “athlete” category on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News … played running back as a sophomore and finished with 2,187 yards including five 200-yard games and became only the sixth sophomore to make the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 team … hampered by an ankle injury as a junior and rushed for 1,291 yards on 160 carries … played for coach Greg Mihalik at Hampton … started as an outfielder on the varsity baseball team since his freshman year and played on the varsity basketball team since ninth grade, too … former national champion of the Punt, Pass and Kick competition … full name is Stephen T. Paskorz … born Aug. 5, 1988.
Ragone, Mike, TE, 6-5, 230, Cherry Hill, NJ (Camden Catholic) – Selected for U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio but did not play … sat out his senior year recovering from an offseason knee injury … … rated the No. 3 tight end in the country, third-best player in New Jersey and 83rd-best prospect in the nation by Rivals.com … named the No. 2 tight end in the nation and 33rd-best prospect by CSTV/Tom Lemming … also the top heavyweight wrestler in the East … won the 2005 Beast of the East wrestling tournament competing as a heavyweight … rated the 55th-best prospect in the nation and No. 2 tight end in this year’s class on the ESPN 150 list … listed as one of six tight ends on the National 100 list by Fort Wayne Star-Telegram … named to the Scout.com National 100 list where he was ranked as the second-best tight end in the nation, the fourth-best player in New Jersey and the No. 56 prospect in the country … selected a second-team All-American by Scout.com … rated 36th-best prospect nationally – and No. 2 among tight ends, ninth in the East – on preseason basis for 2006 by The Sporting News SchoolSports … one of top five tight ends nationally on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview named first-team all-South Jersey by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a junior after catching 35 passes for 720 yards and nine touchdowns … six of his touchdown receptions went for 60 yards or longer, and he also scored on an 80-yard kickoff return … played for coach Ricky Brown at Camden Catholic … his father, Michael, played football at Temple University … full name is Michael Ragone … born Feb. 18, 1988.
Romine, Matt, OL, 6-5, 275, Tulsa, OK (Union) – (Ro-MINE) – Selected for U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio … one of four players voted as captain of the West team for the All-American Bowl … named a second-team prep All-American for 2006 at offensive tackle by USA Today … chosen first-team all-state by The Oklahoman … rated the 55th-best prospect in the country and second-best player in Oklahoma by Rivals.com … rated the 10th-best offensive tackle in the nation by Tom Lemming … Scout.com lists him as the 12th-best offensive guard in the country and No. 3 player in Oklahoma … rated as the 85th-best player on the ESPN 150 list … helped his high school to a 13-1 record as a junior and win its second-straight state championship … rated eighth-best offensive lineman in the Southwest and 49th-ranked player in the Southwest in the 2006 preseason by The Sporting News SchoolSports … one of top 29 offensive linemen nationally on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview … played for coach Kevin Wright at Union H.S. … full name is Matthew R. Romine … born July 19, 1988.
Smith, Brian, LB, 6-3, 230, Overland Park, KS (St. Thomas Aquinas) – Rated the No. 13 inside linebacker in the country and second-best prospect in Kansas by Rivals.com … rated the No. 17 outside linebacker in the nation by Tom Lemming … Scout.com rates him the third-best player in Kansas and the 30th-best middle linebacker in the country … one of 11 Notre Dame signees named to the ESPN 150 list … credited with 126 tackles and nine sacks during senior season and earned All-Metro honors from the Kansas City Star … helped lead his high school to the state semifinals for the second-straight season before falling to the eventual state champions … won first two playoff games in senior year by a combined score of 110-8 … recorded 100 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception he returned for a touchdown during junior year … played for coach Kevin Kopecky at Saint Thomas Aquinas … born Jan. 8, 1989 … father, Chris, played fullback at Notre Dame from 1981-84 and is currently on the board of directors of the Monogram Club … full name is Brian C. Smith.
Smith, Harrison, DB, 6-2, 205, Knoxville, TN (Knoxville Catholic) – Named to Super Southern 100 team for 2006 by Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of nine safeties . . . Gatorade player of the year in Tennessee for 2006 . . . rated 89th best prospect nationally by CSTV – and sixth nationally among safeties . . . listed as one of top 250 players nationally by Rivals.com, including seventh among Tennessee prospects and among top 25 nationally in athlete category . . . 2006 American General Tennessee Mr. Football Back of the Year in Class 3A . . . gained 1,340 yards rushing to go with 19 touchdowns as senior in 2006 at Knoxville Catholic High School in Knoxville, Tenn. . . . caught 23 passes for 453 yards and six TDs in ’06 for Fighting Irish . . . also made 61 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions and caused two fumbles on defense . . . averaged 14 yards per punt return as senior for team that finished 12-1 after unbeaten regular season and Tennessee Class 3A quarterfinal loss . . . helped ’06 Knoxville Catholic team average 37 points per game . . . named 2006 Tennessee Class 3A all-state defensive back by Tennessee Sports Writers Association and by Tennessee Football Coaches Association . . . named East Tennessee High School Football Player of the Year for ’06 by the Lawrenceburg (Tenn.) Quarterback Club . . . named to Nashville Tennessean Dream Team for ’06 as safety . . . rushed for 1,312 yards and had 446 receiving yards (32 catches) with 23 combined TDs as junior in 2005 on Knoxville Catholic team that ended up 11-2 . . . intercepted five passes, returning two for TDs, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles in ’05 and also made 87 tackles (11 for loss) at safety slot . . . earned Tennessee Class 3A first-team all-state honors as junior from Tennessee Sports Writers Association . . . one of top 33 running backs on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview . . . rated 46th best overall prospect in Southeast on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . helped Knoxville Catholic to unbeaten regular season as sophomore in 2004 and final 10-1 record . . . made four tackles for West squad in MSL Events’ East Meets West all-star game in January 2007 in Orlando . . . also played basketball . . . played for coach Mark Pemberton at Knoxville Catholic . . . born Feb. 2, 1989 . . . full name is Harrison J. Smith.
Tate, Golden, WR, 6-0, 190, Hendersonville, TN (Pope John Paul II) – USA Today second-team prep All-America pick for 2006 on defense as athlete . . . rated 11th prep player nationally on ESPN 150 listing . . . selected to Super Southern 100 team for 2006 by Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of 11 wide receivers . . . one of 11 players from Tennessee selected to All-Southern team by Orlando Sun-Sentinel . . . rated one of top 250 players nationally by Rivals.com, including second among Tennessee prospects and seventh nationally among players in athlete category . . . American General Tennessee Mr. Football Back of the Year selection in Division II A/AA class as both junior and senior in ’05 and ’06 . . . named Charles Greenhill Award winner as top prep player in Tennessee and Middle Tennessee High School Football Player of the Year for ’06, both by Lawrenceburg (Tenn.) Quarterback Club . . . Tennessee Division II first-team all-state pick in 2006 as athlete by Tennessee Sports Writers Association and also by Tennessee Football Coaches Association . . . named Sumner County (Tenn.) Offensive Player of the Year for ’06 . . . rated 79th best prospect nationally by CSTV – and 17th among running backs . . . rushed 140 times for 1,413 yards and 23 touchdowns as senior in ’06 at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, Tenn., along with 28 receptions for 510 yards and six TDs . . . also had three interceptions on defense, returned a kickoff for a TD and was the Knights’ punter (he had a long of 62 yards among his 19 kicks) for team that finished 7-3 in ’06 . . . lined up at quarterback and completed a pass to his brother Wesley in a November 2006 John Paul II one-point playoff loss . . . rushed for 1,041 yards on 137 carries and 14 TDs and had 812 receiving yards on 38 catches with 11 more TDs as junior in 2005 . . . returned 17 punts for 231 yards and 19 kickoffs for 426 yards in ’05 . . . returned three kicks for TDs as junior . . . named to Nashville Tennessean Dream Team for ’06 as special teams athlete . . . named to Nashville Tennessean All-Midstate team for ’06 as an athlete — and was Midstate Player of the Year by The Tennessean . . . Tennessee Sports Writers Association all-state pick as junior . . . rated one of top 33 running backs on 2006 preseason basis by CBS Sportsline.com College Football Preview . . . rated fourth among prospects nationally in “athlete” category on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News . . . rated 38th best overall prospect in Southeast on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . joined fellow incoming Irish freshman Andrew Nuss in helping East to 28-14 win in inaugural Offense-Defense All-American Bowl all-star game Jan. 4 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. . . . has run 4.4 in 40 . . . also a standout centerfielder in baseball who may try to play both sports at Notre Dame . . . played for Pope John Paul II coach Jeff Brothers . . . father Golden Tate, Jr., played wide receiver at Tennessee State and was fifth-round pick of Indianapolis Colts in 1984 NFL draft as 120th overall selection . . . born Aug. 2, 1988 . . . full name is Golden H. Tate III.
Walker, Brandon, K/P, 6-3, 200, Findlay, OH (Findlay) – Rated as the fifth-best punter in the nation by Scout.com … received special mention all-state by the Toledo Blade as a punter following senior season … named to the all-Northwest (Ohio) district first team as a kicker … attempted only six field goals as a senior, making three including a 43-yarder, and converted 33-of-34 PATs in 2006 … connected on 10-of-14 field goals as a junior, including a school record 50-yarder in the 2005 playoffs … played for coach Mark Ritzler at Findlay … attended the same high school as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger … full name is Brandon J. Walker … born Sept. 27, 1988.
Williams, Ian, DL, 6-2, 295, Altamonte Springs, FL (Lyman) – Rated 120th prep player nationally on ESPN 150 listing . . . named to Florida Class 5A first-team all-state unit for 2006 as offensive lineman, as selected by Florida Sports Writers Association . . . all-Central Florida first team as defensive lineman by Orlando Sentinel . . . also a first-team defensive lineman on all-Seminole County team selected by the Sentinel . . . rated 30th on list of top 50 Florida prospects at end of ’06 by South Florida Sun-Sentinel . . . listed 20th nationally among defensive tackles by CSTV . . . had more than 40 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks as senior interior defensive lineman at Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla. . . . three-year starter at that spot . . . made 83 tackles as junior in ’05, 23 tackles for loss, 12 hurries, four forced fumbles, two sacks, four fumble recoveries and four passes broken up . . . helped Greyhounds to 8-3 mark in ’05 and third straight district title as Lyman defeated Melbourne for first Florida playoff win in school history . . . first-team Florida Class 5A all-state pick by FSWA as junior on defensive line in 2005 . . . rated 95th best Southeast prospect on 2006 preseason basis by The Sporting News SchoolSports . . . helped North team to 16-3 victory in December 2006 Florida North-South all-star game . . . also competed in track . . . played for Lyman coach Bill Caughell . . . born Aug. 31, 1989 . . . full name is Ian R. Williams.