Apr 29, 2010, 10:31 AM EDT
Brian Kelly is on an absolute roll right now, and his latest recruiting conquest is uber blue-chipper Matthew Hegarty out of New Mexico, widely considered one of the best true left tackles in the country.
“I think when you take it all in, the overall opportunity there, taking it to the next level and the rest of your life, it’s going to really be unprecedented,” Hegarty told Rivals.com. “You really get taken in with the whole atmosphere.”
Hegarty’s commitment is a surprise, especially considering that he wasn’t one of the recruits that came up to the Blue-Gold Game. Apparently, Hegarty wasn’t even at his high school when offensive line coach Ed Warriner came by on Monday, he was late returning for school after being stuck in Texas with car trouble after his brother’s wedding. Even with events conspiring against them, Hegarty has canceled his remaining visits to other schools and plans to get started helping Kelly recruit for the Irish.
“Just talking to coach Kelly, at the end of the day you could really feel that he believes in what he does and what he’s trying to accomplish there,” Hegarty said. “Looking at the recruiting class they’re pulling now, they’re really pulling in some quality guys which I hope they continue to do. That’s how you start turning things around. I’d like to get in there and help them get that going.”
That kind of quote has to be music to the ears of Irish fans and the coaching staff, who add Hegarty to tackles Conor Hanratty and Jordan Prestwood. These are three whales that Kelly and company just landed, beating out gigantic schools like Alabama, Florida, and USC for Prestwood, Florida State, Iowa, and Boston College for Hanratty, and now the entire Top 25 for Hegarty. (Heck, even Harvard offered the guy…) These are some major recruiting dominoes to fall, with only Hanratty being a guy that seemed a lock for Notre Dame.
You’ve got to think this finally dispels the notion that Kelly can’t recruit nationally and won’t compete for big name guys. For all the ink that was spilled about “RKGs” (note: you’ll never find that stuff here), it’s clear that Brian Kelly is a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail and that he’s got a team of hard-nosed, excellent recruiters that are blazing the trail for Notre Dame during this May evaluation period.
During a time of year where your wins and losses come from 17-year-olds making a non-binding college choice that they could back out of at any time, the Hegarty commitment feels like the equivalent of taking the Jeweled Shillelagh away from Southern Cal or beating Michigan by two touchdowns. There’s no football yet to be played, but Hegarty’s commitment is a huge win for Notre Dame.