Orlando Sentinel

Signing Day victory: Dexter Williams’ fax is in


Touted running back Dexter Williams just chose Notre Dame in a Signing Day announcement. It’s a huge victory for the Irish coaching staff and particularly Tony Alford, who was long on Williams’ recruitment and out-battled Miami for his pledge.


Winter Garden, FL

Measurables: 6’0″, 200 lbs.

Accolades: 4-Star recruit, No. 8 player in Central Florida, 139th on PrepStar DreamTeam, No. 78 on ESPN’s Top 300.

Other Impressive Offers: Miami, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, USC

Projected Position: Running Back


Quick Take: In Notre Dame’s biggest Signing Day victory, the Irish reel in a prime time running back from Florida, beating Miami for one of their most important recruiting targets. The Irish coaching staff worked hard for Williams, with Tony Alford landing a key running back as the Irish sweated out a tough decision to leave home for the Floridian.

On the field, there is so much to like about Williams. He looks like he was born with a juke button and a built-in speed burst. He’s a natural seeing the hole and hitting it with speed. And he’ll immediately be inserted into a two-deep depth chart that will now have four very talented backs.


What he means to the Irish: A huge get at a big position of need. Williams is a toe-to-toe victory in the state of Florida against a Miami coaching staff that’s among the most “aggressive” recruiters in the country.

The Irish played the integrity game while the Hurricanes staff tweeted weather reports for snowy South Bend. In the end, the student-athlete made a choice based on the best fit for him, and Notre Dame flexed its muscles on the national scene, pulling a back out of Florida even when the Hurricanes had a need at the position as well.


Obligatory YouTube clip: Here’s the official signing video from UND.com.




Faxes in: Brandon Tiassum

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Indianapolis, IN

Measurables: 6’5″, 285 lbs.

Accolades: Indiana 2A All-State, Indianapolis Star Super Team, Semper Fidelis All-American, All-USA Indiana Football team.

Other Impressive Offers: Louisville, Miami, Boston College.

Projected Position: Defensive tackle


Quick Take: You can’t teach the best asset Tiassum brings to the Irish, a big frame and some solid athleticism. That said, he’s a developmental lineman who will need some time in a college weight room to get ready to play football at the next level.

Another one of the best prospects in Indianapolis, Tiassum has the length and size that the Irish coaching staff covets in their defensive linemen and was an early target and commitment by the staff.


What he means to the Irish: Notre Dame is fortifying the depth chart behind Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day. So while Tiassum isn’t likely to be a contributor in 2015, both Day and Jones (who has a fifth-year available) could be gone after this season, turning over a depth chart to some unproven hands.


Obligatory YouTube Clip: Here’s a good look at the length and size that Tiassum possesses.


Faxes in: Trevor Ruhland

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Cary, IL

Measurables: 6’4″, 270 lbs.

Accolades: All-USA Illinois team, ESPN Top 300, Tom Lemming Top 300, first-team All-State Chicago Tribune, All-State Illinois coaches, State runner-up

Other Impressive Offers: Cal, Duke, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kentucky

Projected Position: Guard


Quick Take: Ruhland’s a lineman’s lineman. He’s not the biggest, strongest or longest, but he certainly plays with the type of disposition that’ll earn him a lot of fans. An injury suffered during basketball season will slow him down for a few months, but at this point there’s little way Ruhland’s doing anything but redshirting in 2015 regardless.


What he means for the Irish: Another interior body on an offensive line that was built recruiting tackles. Ruhland certainly doesn’t have the prototype length or NFL body that people may clamor for, but comparisons to Chris Watt have been made, and that’s not necessarily the worst thing for Ruhland’s future.


Obligatory YouTube Clip: If you want to enjoy an offensive lineman, just watch the first clip on Ruhland’s seek-and-destroy highlight reel:



Faxes in: CJ Sanders


Granada Hills, CA

Measurables: 5’9″, 177

Accolades: First-team Los Angeles Daily News All-Area, Semper Fidelis All-American, first-team All-Mission League, Finalist for SPARQ championship at The Opening, 2nd place in 100m and 200m in Tennessee D-II in 2012, winner in 2013.

Other Impressive Offers: Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, UCLA, USC, Stanford

Projected Position: Wide Receiver


Quick Take: You want a prototype slot receiver? Sanders is your man. A lightning quick receiver with special teams return value, Sanders enters a slot receiver depth chart that finally looks like the one Brian Kelly has wanted since arriving in South Bend.

He’ll jump into one of the most competitive depth charts on the roster, but Sanders is a smooth athlete who has track speed and true football skills.


What he means to the Irish: Outside of adding a 5-star recruit to the Notre Dame film and television department (Sanders play a young Ray Charles in the film Ray and has had numerous supporting roles in various films and television shows), Sanders adds another playmaking threat to the offense.

He’ll push both CJ Prosise and Amir Carlisle, with a natural football IQ that’ll allow him to compete immediately, even if playing time isn’t necessarily there.


Obligatory YouTube clip: Here’s a highlight reel from Sanders’ lone season at Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, California. He spent the first three years of his career at Brentwood Academy in Nashville. His special teams value is on display early.


Faxes in: Nicco Fertitta

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Las Vegas, NV

Measurables: 5’9″, 175 lbs.

Accolades: All-USA Nevada All-State, first-team All-State, No. 295 on Tom Lemming’s Top 300, U.S. Army All-American, State Champion.

Other Impressive Offers: Arizona, Boston College, UNLV, Utah

Projected Position: Safety


Quick Take: An incredibly productive high school player on one of the nation’s top teams. Fertitta will be challenged physically from a size and speed perspective, but certainly not from a toughness or instincts front.

Following Ronnie Stanley from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Fertitta also played a key role in bringing Aliz’e Jones to Notre Dame. But pegging him as a ride along companion isn’t fair. Even if it’s as a special teams standout, sleeping on Fertitta isn’t wise.


What he means for the Irish: Another body at safety. And an instinctive football player. While most pegged Drue Tranquill as a linebacker in waiting, Fertitta might have the size of a student manager, but that won’t keep him from pushing for early playing time.

A highly trained athlete, Fertitta developed a reputation as a knockout artist on the football field, a unique distinction considering his family’s ties to the UFC. The next four years will test Fertitta, another underdog challenge that I’m sure will motivate him.

Notre Dame’s defense is looking for football players of all shapes and sizes. Fertitta will be an interesting test case.


Obligatory YouTube clip: Here’s Fertitta’s senior highlights. Pound for pound, there might not have been a bigger hitter in high school football.