Notre Dame Football: Recruiting Class Sleepers 2004-2005

James ToljCorrespondent IINovember 29, 2011

Notre Dame Football: Recruiting Class Sleepers 2004-2005

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    The 2003 and 2004 recruiting classes for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn't have many big names, and there weren't many recruits rated higher than three stars in either class.

    While most of the excitement about recruiting classes is often reserved for the cream of the crop, fans must remember that being a great player isn't about how well one does in high school. It depends solely upon whether players can get it done at the college level. 

    The "sleepers" selected for this list weren't rated higher than three stars by either Scout.com or Rivals.com.

    So, it doesn't matter what the rating beside the player's name is after a player's high school career. The true test is how well the young men can adjust to the quick pace of college football. 

    And for the recruits highlighted in this slideshow, they were able to adjust just fine.

Darius Walker (2004)

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    Darius Walker, who came to the 2004 recruiting class with a three-star rating by Rivals.com and Scout.com, turned out to be one of the best players on the Irish roster, year after year.

    Walker saw an extensive amount of work his first year at Notre Dame. He carried the ball 185 times, gaining 786 yards with seven touchdowns and setting a freshman rushing record.

    In his sophomore year, Walker played with a vengeance. He rushed for 1,196 yards on 253 carries with three touchdowns. Walker had 43 receptions for 351 yards and two touchdowns as well.

    Walker's junior year would be his last with the team (although he eventually came back to finish his degree), and he made a point to have a great season. He finished the year with 255 carries for 1,310 yards and seven touchdowns. He also set a record for receptions by a running back with 52 (for 425 yards and a touchdown). 

    Walker left Notre Dame high on the list of numerous statistical categories, but he wasn't drafted by the NFL. He had quick stints with the St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans, but he is currently a free agent.

Maurice Crum, Jr. (2004)

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    Maurice Crum Jr. was rated a three-star player by both Rivals.com and Scout.com in the 2004 recruiting class.

    Crum didn't see the field his freshman year, but he was a steady contributor by his sophomore season, where he started every game.

    He finished his sophomore season with 25 assisted and 32 solo tackles, a forced fumble and three quarterback hurries.

    In his junior year, Crum went off. He had 53 assisted and 43 solo tackles, one forced fumble and four sacks (as well as two quarterback hurries).

    Crum had another solid year in his senior season, and he slowly became one of the vocal leaders of the defense.

    He had 49 assisted and 35 solo tackles, one sack, five pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.

    With one year eligibility left, Crum came back for a fifth year and was one of three team captains.

    He had 32 assisted and 33 solo tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries.

    Crum was extremely dependable throughout his career, and his effort showed on the field, day in and day out.

    After leaving Notre Dame, he wasn't drafted by the NFL. He signed on with the UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions, and he is currently with the team.

David Grimes (2005)

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    Rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com and Rivals, David Grimes entered the 2005 class without soaring expectations.

    He never had a breakout year, but like Maurice Crum, Grimes was always dependable.

    Grimes played in every game his freshman year on special teams, and was a major contributor to the return game, fielding 15 kickoffs for 338 yards.

    Grimes drastically increased his playing time as a wide receiver in his sophomore year, catching 26 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns. He played in 12 of 13 games.

    He posted similar numbers during his junior year, where he played in ten games and started eight. Grimes finished the season with 27 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

    In his senior year, Gimes was a captain alongside Crum and David Bruton. He had a career-high 35 receptions for 321 yards and three touchdowns.

    After his college career, Grimes wasn't drafted, but he saw limited time with the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. He is an NFL free agent.

Kyle McCarthy (2005)

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    Kyle McCarthy came into the 2005 recruiting class rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and a two-star recruit by Scout.com

    While he didn't play his freshman season, McCarthy's playing time steadily increased throughout his career at Notre Dame, and by his senior year he had become the starting strong safety.

    In his senior year, McCarthy had 46 assisted and 64 solo tackles, a forced fumble and two interceptions.

    His most memorable play of the season was early in the fourth quarter of the Irish's first game against the San Diego State Aztecs. 

    As the Aztecs were approaching the end zone for a score, McCarthy hit Brandon Sullivan on the goal line and forced a fumble. If Sullivan had scored, the Aztecs would have been up 20-7 in the fourth quarter. The Irish won the game 13-21. 

    McCarthy came back for a fifth year in 2009, and he had an even better season than he did in 2008.  He finished the season with 35 assisted and 65 solo tackled, five interceptions and five pass breakups.

    While McCarthy wasn't drafted, he did manage to get picked up by the Denver Broncos. He is currently with the team.

David Bruton (2005)

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    David Bruton entered the 2005 Notre Dame recruiting class rated a three-star recruit by both Rivals.com and Scout.com.

    Bruton didn't get much playing time during his freshman year, but he impressed coaches with his tenacity on special teams.

    He saw the field on special teams and as a reserve safety in his sophomore year, but he had just six assisted and 12 solo tackles.

    Bruton started 11 of 12 games for the Irish at free safety his junior year. He had 30 assisted and 50 solo tackles, three interceptions, a sack,  two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Bruton's statistics showed that he was a jack-of-all-trades, and he began to find himself on NFL scouts' radars.

    Bruton's last year with the Irish went very well. He was a co-captain alongside Maurice Crum and David Grimes, and he put up fantastic statistics.

    Bruton had 36 assisted and 61 solo tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, a quarterback hurry and six pass breakups.

    After a stellar senior year, Bruton entered the NFL Draft. He was selected in the fourth round by the Denver Broncos. He is still a member of the Broncos.