Feb. 3, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Looking at the list of signees, observers could tell what the Irish focused on during the recruiting season.
Notre Dame wants to be more offensive-minded and 12 of the 18 signees reflect that. Two of those offensive players made their decision at the last minute.
“And I think this year more than any other year, it came down to the end,” Davie said. “I don’t know that we’ve ever went into a signing date — we had 16 commitments going on. We actually had six or seven offers out there going into this morning that we don’t know about, that they had not made any commitment. You know, what I’d like to have done, probably get to 20 is where I would like to be in the numbers. We’re at 18.”
Notre Dame did win some of the last minute battles. Despite already signing two quarterbacks, the Irish went ahead and signed two more. The Irish snatched Carlyle Holiday away from the Huskers. Notre Dame also received a commitment from Abram Elam, beating out Georgia Tech.
Elam hails from Florida where the Irish scored four recruits. Notre Dame lured several of these players away from the Florida schools.
“You know, I think we made some inroads in Florida,” Davie said. “Three of those players were in the Georgia-Florida All-Star Game representing Florida. And any time you can go into Florida and beat those Florida schools. . . you’re starting to make some inroads there.”
The Irish officially signed three quarterbacks with a potential fourth in Elam. Davie clarified that Elam would receive an opportunity to play at quarterback but that he was signed as a quarterback and defensive back.
Defensively, Davie received commitments from two linemen, a single defensive back and three linebackers.
Notre Dame also inked four wide receivers officially. Jerome Collins could be considered a receiver but he might also see some time at tight end. Billy Palmer is the only other tight end, which the Irish got.
Also the Irish signed two running backs in Garron Bible and Vontez Duff.
“Athleticism was a priority,” Davie said. “You know, we’re tired of covering, big, tall wide receivers. We’d like to have some on our team, and we went out and found a couple. We’ve got three wide receivers that are all 6’4, in Jovan Witherspoon, Ronnie Rodamer and Jerome Collins.”
Witherspoon comes from Fort Wayne, which is about a half hour drive from Notre Dame. The Bishop Luers standout caught 69 passes for 1,140 yards and 11 touchdowns. The receiver had four 100-yd receiving games in his senior campaign.
Witherspoon also excels on the other side of the ball as well. He played safety during his senior season as well, making 96 tackles. He also registered eight sacks. Witherspoon also played basketball as well as ran track.
“You look at our team right now, I feel really confident,” Davie said. “I feel that we’ve got our team built back up to where we have a chance to be really a good team.”
This year’s recruiting class is ranked eighth in the nation by ESPN. The top class honors went to Florida whom Notre Dame battled throughout the recruiting season.