Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Your Class of 2007 Dogbook: Big Uglies Edition

Part Two of Three of the introduction to the latest freshman class, here's the lowdown on the linemen from this year's class.

Your Class of 2007 Dogbook: Big Uglies Edition

Matt Romine, OL, Tulsa, OK

6'6", 270, 5.2
Anagramaticus Says:

"I'm a Torment"
HRB Angry Drunk Viking Rating:

Eight Angry Drunk Vikings, an elephant, and a Covered Wagon.
The Lowdown: Romine (pronounced Row-mine, not Rom-mini, as I thought previously) was the lone bit of good news for the Irish at the 2007 Army All-American game, when he committed to Notre Dame in a pre-game hat ceremony. Romine had a huge upside on the offensive line and his commitment was a huge victory for the Irish in drawing top talent out of the notoriously off-limits state of Oklahoma. Romine was recruited heavily by his in-state Sooners, and had Notre Dame fans on edge right up until signing day due to the persistence of Bob Stoops and his staff.

Romine was chosen as one of the captains for the west squad of the All-American Bowl and handled himself very admirably at tackle while matched up against the superhuman group of defensive ends on the East squad.

Bonus YouTube Footage: "Romine" is one letter from "Bromine", one of nature's more volatile chemicals. Don't believe me? Have a look.

Taylor Dever, OL, Grass Valley, CA

6'6", 300, 5.3
Anagramaticus Says:

"Overly Rated"
HRB Angry Drunk Viking Rating:

Six Angry Drunk Vikings, a rhinocerous, and a Beatles Haircut.
The Lowdown: Dever was a big sleeper in the class of 2007. Hailling from the fairly remote confines of Grass Valley, CA (a few miles outside of the curiously-named "Rough and Ready, CA", for what it's worth), Dever flew under the radar of most college programs for the entire recruiting process. However, Dever had a huge growh spurt and added a bunch of weight to his frame, subuseqently having a very dominating season his senior year. At that point, the big-time suitors came calling. Miami(FL) and Nebraska offered him and every school on the west coast started calling him up. Fortunately, Notre Dame was a step ahead of the curve and fired out an early scholarship offer to Dever, who accepted it almost immediately after a visit from the coaching staff.

Dever was a great example of proactive recruiting and the payoff for a coaching staff that is able to discover talent and get a foot in the door before everyone else. Dever might need some time to get his body into shape for the college game, but he has a huge frame and all the makings of a big-time contributor.

Bonus YouTube Footage: Math-rock duo Hella's "Republic of Rough & Ready". They're from Sacramento, too.

Emeka Nwankwo, OL/DL, Hollywood, FL

6'5", 270, 5.2
Anagramaticus Says:

"Weak Know Mean"
HRB Angry Drunk Viking Rating:

Seven Angry Drunk Vikings and two Blood Diamonds.
The Lowdown: Nwankwo follows in a distinguished line of Irish players with unpronounceable, consonant-laden surnames. His family is from Nigeria, and he was a very desirous prospect in the SEC, with offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn. Nwankwo was a dominant force on both the offensive and defensive lines in high school, although he was primarily recruited to play OL in college.

In recent weeks, there has been talk of Nwankwo playing DL at Notre Dame, although Weis stated in his signing day press conference that no final decision has been made on where he will play just yet. Essentially, he will have this season to try out both sides of the ball and see where his abilities and the team's needs put him.

Bonus YouTube Footage: The original "Nigerian Nightmare", Christian Okoye breaks like a thousand tackles in Tecmo Super Bowl.

Andrew Nuss, DL, Ashburn, VA

6'5", 285, 5.1
Anagramaticus Says:

"Warns Nudes"
HRB Angry Drunk Viking Rating:

Seven Angry Drunk Vikings and two handfulls of mixed nuts.
The Lowdown: I had a bit of fun at his expense back in June when he committed to Notre Dame, but hopefully he won't hold it against me, since he's, you know, really really big. Nuss was an early commitment to the Irish and never wavered in his commitment, which was a huge relief considering the craziness that went down with the rest of the class.

Originally recruited as an offensive lineman, Nuss has confirmed that he will be switched over to defensive line for his college career. With the new defensive system in place and more opportunity to see the field faster on the defensive side, it seemed to be a pretty easy decision for Nuss.

Bonus YouTube Footage: A commercial for "Golden Nuss Chocolate", complete with Univision cheesecake. Muy bueno.

Ian Williams, DT, Longwood, FL

6'1", 290, 5.0
Anagramaticus Says:

"I am in a Swill"
HRB Angry Drunk Viking Rating:

Seven Angry Drunk Vikings and a spicy kielbasa.
The Lowdown: Coming into 2007, the biggest priority for the recruiting class was signinig a huge, aggressive natural defensive tackle. As great as the class of 2006 was, DT was the one roster spot that was empty, after the high-drama loss of Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy. Williams' commitment, therefore, was a godsend, stepping into one of the biggest holes in the Irish depth chart.

Another beefy prospect from the hotbed of talent in Florida, Williams will be a big part of the redesigned Irish defense in his years at Notre Dame. He's big and powerful, and at 6'1" will have more leverage to play on the inside in a 3-4 system than the other defensive linemen from this class who are all in the 6'5" range. .

Bonus YouTube Footage: Get your patchouli stink outta my store, Ian!.

Kerry Neal, DE, Bunn, NC

6'3", 230
Anagramaticus Says:

"Kernel Ray"
HRB Angry Drunk Viking Rating:

Seven Angry Drunk Vikings, a vampire, and a plate of Beenie Weenie.
The Lowdown: Kerry Neal was the first commitment in the class, pledging to the Irish nearly a year ago. His commitment came before evaluations and rankings for the class were finalized, so we hardly knew anything about him or his talent when he announced he would be playing for the Irish. However, the coaching staff must have seen something great in his tapes and decided to move in right away, as Neal eventually became a very highly-regarded prospect and the object of many late recruiting pushes by big-time programs. It's a huge testament to the hard work and dedication of the Notre Dame staff that they were able to identify Neal's upside and put the recruiting into top gear while every other college was sitting around talking about the class of 2006.

Neal is a great player, but his value increases even more when you consider the new 3-4 defense that will be implemented next year. His size puts him at a bit of a "tweener" position in a 4-3 defense, and he would have to gain or lose weight to move to either a DE or LB position in Minter's system. However, in the 3-4, he is nearly the perfect prototype for an OLB/speed rusher position, and might very well be one of the first players in the class to make an immediate contribution.

Bonus YouTube Footage: North Carolina, come on and raise up. Take your shirt off, and spin it around your head. Like a helicoter.

Welcome to the fold. The last six should be up tomorrow.

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