Mar 2, 2011, 2:32 PM EDT
With eleven months to go until next year’s signing day, the Irish notched their first verbal commitment for the 2012 recruiting class. And while it’s hard to get too excited about a verbal commitment that’s far from binding, the Irish reeled in Fresno cornerback Tee Shepard, one of the most coveted cover corners on the West Coast.
IrishSportsDaily.com got the quote of record from Shepard:
“I committed to Notre Dame,” Shepard told IrishSportsDaily.com. “I am happy to get it over with. I didn’t want to play with the other coaches. They have a job to do, and I didn’t want to lead them on. I just wanted to get it out of the way. I mean, I had 27 offers, but I always wanted Notre Dame. I am excited.”
And a runner-up quote from ESPN.com’s Greg Biggins:
“They knew I was going to Notre Dame but thought I would go through the process a little longer,” Shepard said. “For me, it came down to knowing what I wanted to do and just not wanting to waste anyone’s time. The second they offered me, I knew I would be going to Notre Dame so there was no need to drag this out.
“Notre Dame had everything I was looking for. I love the tradition, the new coaching staff and what the school is all about. It’s a privilege to say you attend Notre Dame and I know the program has been down for a few years but they’re turning the corner and I’m excited to be a part of making them the top program in the country once again.”
We learned during the last recruiting cycle that a verbal commitment travels a long and winding round to actually signing on the dotted line, but there’s plenty to get excited about for Irish fans looking at commitment No. 1 for Brian Kelly and the Irish. Here are a few:
If you’re looking to judge Shepard on his offer list, get ready to be impressed. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound cornerback has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Miami, UCLA, Washington and USC among the 27 Shepard claims.
Shepard was the first cornerback offered by the Irish back in May of 2010, and during the Team USA All-Star game where 2011 commits Matt Hegarty, Stephon Tuitt, George and Josh Atkinson, and Anthony Rabasa played, Shepard was already hinting that he’d be joining the Irish soon.
He’s another great recruiting get by tight ends coach Mike Denbrock in California, who reeled in the Atkinson brothers and Troy Niklas this year, and kept Justin Utupo and Cameron Roberson in the fold in 2010.
It’s too early to get star crazy as the major websites haven’t gone through their initial evaluations, but all signs point to Shepard being a Top 100 player in the country, and potentially a five-star recruit.
MESSAGE BOARD INTEL:
This comes courtesy of Fresno Mike, who frequents the ND Nation board, and has probably, actually, shockingly had a chance to see Shepard play with his own eyes, something not many recruitniks can actually say:
His DB coach, Tony Perry, says that he’ll be the best corner that he’s coached. That’s a tall order as this particular area of Fresno (primarily Edison High but now also Central) has sent DB’s coached by Perry to Oklahoma, Michigan, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Cal, Georgia Tech, Arizona, Colorado and Fresno State among other schools over the past 10 years. That includes current Oregon starter Cliff Harris and Arizona starter Robert Golden. Harris has also indicated that Tee could be the best of the bunch. Oregon will be in the hunt also…especially since Harris is in Eugene and they do a great job recruiting this area.
Harris at Oregon. TJ McDonald…now a starting safety at USC. Robert Golden…now a starting corner at Arizona. Tevin McDonald…will start at UCLA this fall as a redshirt freshman. Courtney Viney…scholie to UCLA. Brandon Leslie…scholie to Georgia Tech…now going to Hawaii. Aaron Miller…scholie to Oklahoma. Johnny Sears…scholie to Michigan. Bernard Hicks and Robert Peele…scholies to Cal. Lorenzo Sims…scholie to Colorado. Clifton Smith…scholie to Fresno State and played in ’08 Pro Bowl. All of those kids played at Edison between the ’01 and ’09 seasons and the ’08 team had a starting defensive backfield of Harris, TJ McDonald, Golden and Leslie. Not a bad high school defensive secondary.
Translation: This guy could be good.
It might have taken a little longer than most wanted for that first recruiting domino to fall, but Shepard is the type of recruit that’s worth waiting for. Now all the Notre Dame staff has to do is hold off the rest of the country.