Charlie Weis Won with Whose Recruits Again?

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Charlie Weis Won with Whose Recruits Again?
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As the 2009 college football season quickly approaches, the lovers and haters gravitate towards one of the more hotly debated topics—Notre Dame and the fate of head coach Charlie Weis. 

There is a lot of information and prognostication floating around on the Internet as to how this year’s Irish squad will stack up against their competition. Fans and other supporters cite experience and depth, while the haters claim that Weis can’t coach and in-between off-color and unoriginal fat jokes, claim that he could only win with Ty Willingham’s recruits.

Something never sat right with me and that claim, which led me to start thinking about the following question—just who is responsible for recruiting the ’05 and ’06 teams?

Lets review...

Bob Davie was fired as head coach on December 2, 2001. I take this to mean that with about two months before National Signing Day, most of the 2002 recruiting class had probably made up their mind as to where they were going, if they hadn’t already committed. Who was in the 2002 recruiting class for Notre Dame (courtesy of Bob Davie and staff)?

Mike Richardson, CB

Anthony Fasano, TE

Chris Frome, DE

Dan Santucci, OG

Rhema McKnight, WR

Maurice Stovall, WR

Derek Landri, DT

Bob Morton, C


And at that point, I am quite sure that several offers had already gone out to top players in the 2003 recruiting class, as well as a few filing cabinets worth of material on many others. Sure, Ty and staff deserve some credit for actually getting these guys to sign, but how much time and effort went into finding them and making the initial contacts/offers?


Why is this important? Do I really need to discuss the 2005 recruiting class here? I didn’t think so. Here are the highlights of the ’03 class:


Victor Abiamiri, DE

Ambrose Wooden, CB

John Sullivan, C

Tom Zbikowski, S

Travis Thomas, RB

Ryan Harris, OT

John Carlson, TE

Trevor Laws, DT

Brady Quinn, QB

Jeff Samardzija, WR

Chinedum Ndukwe, S

Joe Brockington, LB


And just as further evidence, I submit the fifth year seniors on the ’05 team (’01 recruiting class):


D.J. Fitzpatrick, PK

Brandon Hoyte, LB

Mark LeVoir, OT

Corey Mays, LB

Rashon Powers-Neal, FB

Dan Stevenson, OG


 Just for fun, here is the depth chart to start the ’05 football season:


Irish Offense

LT           Ryan Harris                      Jr.

LG           Dan Santucci                   Sr.

C             Bob Morton                     Sr.

               John Sullivan                    Jr.

RG           Dan Stevenson                Sr.

RT           Mark LeVoir                      Sr.

WR          Maurice Stovall                 Sr.

               Jeff Samardzija                Jr.

TE           Anthony Fasano               Sr.

               John Carlson                   Jr.

WR          Rhema McKnight              Sr.

QB           Brady Quinn                    Jr.

FB            R. Powers-Neal                Sr.

HB           Darius Walker                  So.

               Travis Thomas                  Jr.


Irish Defense

DE           Victor Abiamiri                   Jr.

DT           Trevor Laws                      Jr.

DT           Derek Landri                     Sr.

DE           Chris Frome                      Sr.

LB           Brandon Hoyte                  Sr.

               Joe Brockington                Jr.

LB           Corey Mays                       Sr.

LB           Mo Crum, Jr.                     So.

CB          Ambrose Wooden              Jr.

FS           Chinedum Ndukwe             Jr.

SS           Tom Zbikowski                  Jr.

CB          Mike Richardson                 Sr.


Looks familiar, right? Of course, this is a bit edited, but most of the second string “depth”—if you want to call it that—was listed as Juniors (’03 recruiting class) or Freshman (Charlie Weis’ first recruiting class, which he only had a few weeks to assemble while serving as Offensive Coordinator for the New England Patriots on their way to Super Bowl XXXIX). The only two exceptions to the ’03 class or earlier are Darius Walker and Mo Crum.



What about the ’06 team? Well, here you go:


Irish Offense

LT            Ryan Harris                       Sr.

LG           Dan Santucci                     Sr.

C             John Sullivan                     Sr.

RG          Bob Morton                       Sr.

RT           Sam Young                       Fr.

WR         Jeff Samardzija                  Sr.

TE           John Carlson                     Sr.

WR         Rhema McKnight                Sr.

QB          Brady Quinn                      Sr.

FB           Asaph Schwapp                 So.

HB          Darius Walker                    Jr.


Irish Defense

DE           Victor Abiamiri                    Sr.

DT           Trevor Laws                       Sr.

DT           Derek Landri                      Sr.

DE           Ronald Talley                     Jr.

LB           Travis Thomas                   Sr.

LB            Joe Brockington                Sr.

LB           M. Crum, Jr.                       Jr.

CB           Ambrose Wooden              Sr.

FS            Chinedum Ndukwe             Sr.

SS            Tom Zbikowski                  Sr.

CB           Mike Richardson                 Sr.


Only Walker and Crum (again) along with Talley truly could be considered Ty Willingham’s recruits. The rest are seniors (’03 recruiting class) or fifth year seniors (’02 recruiting class). Combine that with Sam Young and Asaph Schwapp, who are both Charlie Weis' recruits.


Now I will be the first to admit that I thought Bob Davie was the natural selection to take over for Lou Holtz when he retired. The guy was a pretty good defensive coordinator and could recruit talented players. He had some good seasons as head coach and some not so good seasons, but ultimately losing to too many teams that Notre Dame should have beat cost him the head coaching job. 


What surprises me most is that he hasn’t had the opportunity to prove himself again (at least as coordinator) as a college coach and has spent his time since being fired as an ESPN analyst and commentator.


So I have to ask, whose recruits did Charlie Weis win with in ’05 and ’06? Give a little credit where credit is due.



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