Jan 17, 2011, 12:52 PM EST
It doesn’t feel that long ago that Chris Stewart, George West and James Aldridge became the first three early-enrollees at Notre Dame. But when university admissions finally opened the door to allow high school seniors the ability to enroll a semester early five years ago, Notre Dame got up to speed with the rest of college football and paved the way for the five members of the 2011 recruiting class to start their freshman year tomorrow, seven months before the rest of their classmates.
Kicker Kyle Brindza, quarterback Everett Golson, defensive ends Brad Carrico and Aaron Lynch, and outside linebacker Ishaq Williams are moved into their dorms and ready to being classes tomorrow, cementing five members of the 2011 recruiting class, and giving them a headstart on winter conditioning as well as spring practice. Carrico and Brindza have been longstanding members of the class, while Golson, Lynch, and Williams relative newcomers, with the latter two making up their mind in the past week.
Getting front-seven guys like Carrico, Lynch and Williams onto campus early and into Paul Longo’s strength and conditioning program is imperative. While Carrico looks physically up to the task, the redistribution of high school weight into a body ready to play college football this September will take a lot of sweat and hard work, and for guys like Lynch and Williams, added mass.
It isn’t hard to realize that early enrollment is a major factor why Notre Dame landed players like Lynch, Williams and Golson. Each chose Notre Dame after talking to dozens of college football programs and while they ultimately chose Notre Dame for reasons other than just football, they had a plan to enroll early because getting on the field was a priority to them. For Golson, it’ll mean participating in spring workouts and throwing his hat into a crowded quarterback race. For Lynch, it’ll mean working his way into a thin two-deep at defensive end that could use a pass-rushing presence. For Williams, it’ll give him the opportunity to fight for the position opposite Darius Fleming while the coaching staff finds ways to turn the speed rusher loose on the quarterback.
With the rest of the recruiting class set to sign their letters-of-intent the first Wednesday of February, Brindza, Carrico, Golson, Lynch and Williams will have already spent a few weeks in classes and training in the Gug. It’s a great advantage for student-athletes ready to get started on the next phase of their life. (Not to mention for Irish fans held hostage by the twists and turns of their recruitment.)