Notre Dame became one of an ever-increasing number of teams to capitalize on Penn State's significant NCAA sanctions on Sunday, landing a commitment from former Nittany Lions pledge Will Fuller, a wide receiver from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia.
Fuller committed to Penn State in June, but began to reconsider last month upon news that the program would not be eligible for a bowl game until 2016. A visit to South Bend this weekend was enough to convince the 6'1", 160-pound Fuller that Notre Dame was the right place for him.
The addition of Fuller gives Notre Dame 19 commitments in the 2013 class and a versatile athlete who provides the team an option at two critical positions. Fuller projects first as a receiver but also plays cornerback—both positions of need for the Fighting Irish.
Despite a relatively small offer list that included the likes of Boston College, Kent State and Temple, head coach Brian Kelly and his staff liked Fuller enough to offer him a scholarship despite a dwindling number of open spots in the class.
Fuller is rated a 3-star prospect by every major recruiting media outlet. He plays in a primarily pro-style offense at Roman Catholic, where he has flourished catching deep passes with his leaping ability and ball skills.
His biggest improvement areas will be route-running and strength, neither of which he has needed to thrive at the high school level. At cornerback, he has plenty of technique work to do to be able to play the position at a high level, but he also possesses the natural athleticism to potentially thrive.
Depsite not singing anyone from Pennsylvania in the 2012 class, the Irish have historically recruited the Keystone State well. Fuller is the second Philadelphia-area prospect in the team's 2013 class, joining offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey. Linebacker Alex Anzalone, who committed last month, hails from Reading, about an hour northwest of Philadelphia.
Fuller becomes the third player in the Class of 2013 to decommit from Penn State and commit elsewhere since the NCAA announced the school's penalties related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, joining defensive lineman Greg Webb (North Carolina) and defensive back Ross Douglas (Michigan). Nine current members of the program have left over the past two weeks.
Although Fuller is far from a "can't-miss" prospect, his versatility is exactly what Notre Dame is seeking as it begins to put the finishing touches on its 2013 class. Likely three or four spots remain in the class. Whether or not the team can land another wide receiver, cornerback or both may determine at what position Fuller's Fighting Irish career begins.
For now, he's just another valuable piece in what could turn out to be Notre Dame's best recruiting class in recent history.