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Irish spring game sells recruits

4/29/2010

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly and his staff didn't have much time to piece together their average 2010 recruiting class, so they aren't wasting a moment addressing future needs.

In fact, the Fighting Irish struck oil on Tuesday. With four high school juniors having already pledged their verbal allegiance, last Saturday's Blue-Gold spring game in South Bend netted a talented quartet headlined by five-star tight end Ben Koyack.

The Oil City High School star, leaning heavily toward choosing Ohio State just days earlier, felt the magic while on the sideline at Notre Dame Stadium and verbally committed on Tuesday.

"Yeah, checking out practice and then seeing the [spring] game really did push me over the edge," the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder said. "And everyone talks about it being Tight End U. Brian Kelly said that our signing helps some other top guys sign. I think it will be a good team no matter what caliber of guys we get."

That shows how much faith Koyack, who caught 41 passes for 748 yards and seven touchdowns this past season, has in Kelly's ability to coach up moderate talent and run roughshod with above-average aptitude. Koyack appears to be the latter -- a big hybrid who will be tough for cornerbacks to handle with enough speed to give to give linebackers fits.

"Just the offense he runs, and he seems like a guy I can trust," said Koyack, who has 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. "I definitely believe what he says. [The previous staff] started off saying they had a lot of interest, and then I kind of lost touch with them. When Brian Kelly took over, I mean, I watched his offense at Cincinnati so I knew I had to check it out.

"A week before [I signed] I narrowed it down to Notre Dame and Ohio State. When I went [to South Bend], I just kind of fell in love."

As did Tony Springmann (OL, Fort Wayne, Ind.), Conor Hanratty (OL, New Canaan, Conn.) and Jarrett Grace (LB, Cincinnati, Ohio) over the weekend. Defensive end Brad Carrico (Dublin, Ohio), kicker Kyle Brindza (Canton, Mich.), athlete Matthias Farley (Charlotte, N.C.) and Jordan Prestwood, a solid offensive lineman from Plant City, Fla., all verbally committed prior to the spring game.

Prestwood likes what he sees with a strong push to bolster the O-line -- a unit that got pushed around in 2007 and 2008, but saw significant improvement last fall.

"The changes they're making really excites me," the 6-6, 265-pounder said. "(OL coach Ed) Warinner, his coaching style and what he brings to Notre Dame really impressed me."