Since 2013 recruiting seems to be coming to somewhat of a close, Notre Dame has been trying to get a jump on 2014 and has been looking for just the right pieces that would fit their program.
Recently, the Irish offered two talented prospects from East Lake High School (Tarpon Springs,Fla.) in wide receiver Artavis Scott and offensive lineman Mason Cole, but during that time they've also decided to keep their eye on a gem in the Eagle’s 2015 class, wide receiver George Campbell.
“Basically, Notre Dame told me that they would be back to check up on me, but they didn't say when,” said Campbell. “That would be a great school for me to consider, especially academically. Notre Dame is one of the best schools for academics and I think a school like that would definitely help me out later on in life.”
Last month his teammates were able to make a Midwest swing to see all the schools that were interested them like Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame. After they returned home they shared their experiences with the 6-foot-4, 181-pound freshman, including that visit to South Bend that exceeded their expectations.
“I talked to both Tay and Mason about their trip up to Notre Dame,” he recalled. “They said it's a top-notch school that anyone would like to go to. They both said once they went up there they felt like they wanted to commit early.”
Everything they told Campbell about Notre Dame made him appreciate the early interest he was receiving from the Irish that much more.
“The big thing I'll be looking for is academics in a school,” said the Florida standout. “I'm also going to be looking for a great relationship with the coaches. Kind of like the relationship I have at East Lake with mine.”
Since it's still very, very early in the recruiting process for 2015 recruits, Campbell has turned his full attention to helping East Lake improve on last season’s 9-4 record and a loss in the playoffs to the eventual state champ Plant (28-21).
“Even though we lost, I thought that was a great game for me personally because I was able to gain valuable experience against a top-notch team,” he shared. “It was a sad that we lost, but were looking forward to getting back to the playoffs again this year and getting even further.”
Success usually takes hard work and the talented receiver knows if he wants to stand out and be recognized, he has to take his game to the next level. “I'm working to improve on everything in my game,” he said confidently. “I want to make myself a better all-around player for my team.”
Even though he has slowed down the recruiting process for the time being, that hasn't kept college recruiters from letting him know they’re interested.
“I currently have three offers already from Central Florida, Vanderbilt and South Florida,” claimed Campbell. “I'm also hearing from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Clemson, Notre Dame and Indiana.
“I've already visited Florida and Central Florida so far and I'm hoping to make the trip to South Florida soon.”
Like his teammates who have already gone before him, could the Irish expect a visit from Campbell in the future?
“If Notre Dame continues to show interest and decides I'm a player they want to recruit, I’d definitely plan on taking a visit up there.”
Freshman Cornerback Prepares for Fight Within
2015 cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick (Jersey City, N.J./ St. Peter's Prep) knows that fighting for a starting position in football is no easy task to begin with, but when you have to go up against two seniors with tons of experience it takes that equation to a whole different level. Now add to that problem how hard it would be if one of those seniors was considered one of the top recruits in the 2013 class.
Well that's the predicament Fitzpatrick's in at this moment and he wouldn't have it any other way.
“I'll be playing cornerback with Tre Bell, who's one of the top cornerbacks in the nation right now,” said the 5-foot-11, 177-pound sophomore-to-be. “Right now, I'm still fighting for a position at cornerback and running back, but I'll definitely be getting a lot of playing time this season. I'm hoping to showcase myself a lot more and I want to start making more game-changing plays.”
With so much talent gracing the field at St. Peter's Prep this season, the future can't help but look very bright and expectations are high.
“We've been looking pretty good so far this and I believe we'll have one of the top teams in the state,” claimed the Jersey City standout. “Everybody's been looking pretty focus, so hopefully we'll do a lot better than that 7-4 record this year.”
Earlier this summer, Fitzpatrick decided to test his luck against some of the top players from around the country at Florida's Friday Nights Lights Camp in Gainesville. The talented cornerback did more than hold his own and opened a lot of eyes.
“I had a really good time and it was a great experience going against a lot of great players,” he said. “After the whole thing was over they had me rated as the 4th overall at the camp. I have already received an offer from Rutgers and I'm also hearing from Alabama, Connecticut, North Carolina and Temple.”
Though he hasn't heard from the Irish yet they are definitely on his mind and he's hoping that will all change once they see what he can do on the field.
“I haven't heard from Notre Dame yet, but if I do I would be very interested in them,” claimed Fitzpatrick. “I know it's a school that takes pride in their academics and is very good at athletics also. It would be a great opportunity for me because I'd be able to get a great education and play football at same time.”
Adversity Strengthens 2015 Recruit
To 2015 prospect Shaun Crawford and his St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) teammates it seemed that the end of their 2011 football season was a nightmarish case of déjà vu.
Facing their nemesis St. Ignatius on October 29th, the Eagles battled tooth and nail against the Wildcats only to come up on the short side of the stick with the 20-17 loss. The following week they would bounce back by defeating Cleveland Heights in the first game of the playoffs 28-14, but who should they find waiting for them the next week?
You got it, the team that beat them by three points just two weeks earlier, St. Ignatius.
Again the battle would ensue the second time, but fate would play an unbelievable cruel trick on St. Edward.
Defeat again to St. Ignatius by the same score 20-17.
“They have always been our rival,” claimed Crawford. “They had our number both times we played them last year and then they went on to win state. We're looking forward to playing them again this year and that week leading up to the Ignatius game will always be hectic, but we can't afford to look past anybody on our schedule. We’re going into the season with high expectations. Our coaches always tell us to strive to be great and that's kind of our motto.”
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound freshman has never been one to fold to adversity, so earlier this year the talented athlete suffered a setback that would keep most out of commission, but Crawford had other plans.
“I sustained an ankle injury at the beginning of track season, but I pushed through it and our team ended up winning state,” said the dual-sport athlete. “I ran the one-hundred meters in 10.8 and the two-hundred meters in 21.8 with that injured ankle.
“That really surprised me that I was able to run that well and I ended up qualifying for state in both events as a freshman. Really it was just crazy. I had to wrap it all the time and take days off practice just to make sure that my ankle was decent enough to run.”
Through that perseverance he has learned that he can do anything he sets his mind to and he's hoping to transfer that experience over to the gridiron. “I feel I need to be more aggressive and gain more strength this season,” admitted Crawford. “I want to gain more speed and play at a faster tempo. I know if I work hard I can achieve that.”
The St. Edward standout will once again play slot receiver this year for the Eagles, but it looks like he will also be playing cornerback on defense. The versatility he shows on the football field has already caught the eyes of a few big time programs that can't wait to see what he'll do this season.
“I haven't received any offers yet, but I am receiving plenty of interest,” he said. “I'm hearing from Nebraska, Penn State, LSU and Michigan.”
Though he has yet to hear from the Irish, Crawford’s father has already taking the initiative so that his son can experience what Notre Dame is all about.
“My dad wants me to go to Notre Dame’s summer camp next year, which I plan to do,” he shared. “Being a member of Holy Cross we talk about Notre Dame a lot at St. Edward. It's definitely a school I'm looking forward to checking out.
“You can't go wrong with Notre Dame. I actually went to the Michigan-Notre Dame game last year and it was just crazy. Notre Dame has great academics and my dad, who is a big Michigan fan, always tells me that you pretty much have a job after you graduate from Notre Dame. He says it's not about going pro, it's all about your future.”