Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Recruiting Week In Review

February 15, 2020

Written by Joe Bradshaw

Even during the program’s down years, Notre Dame had a reputation for putting tight ends in The League. This year’s Irish tight end entry into the NFL draft is Cole Kmet. Since the NFL Combine hasn’t even been held, let alone any pro days, exactly where he will be drafted is a guess, but the way too early mock drafts have him going as high as a high second round pick. It’s not surprising that elite tight end prospects listen when Notre Dame comes calling. And while the Irish’s reputation for defensive linemen is somewhat less stellar, their contribution at that position is definitely on the rise. Last week Irish Sports Daily reported on two young men who are outstanding 2020 prospects, one at tight end and the other on the defensive line. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?

Thomas Fidone‍, 6-5, 218, Lewis Central High School, Council Bluffs, IA had to wait an additional two weeks to receive his visit from Notre Dame after a snowstorm cancelled the original date. In the end, though, the Irish made the wait well worth it. Once the visit finally took place, Quarterbacks Coach and Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees extended Fidone a scholarship offer. Rees explained how he sees him in Notre Dame’s offense.

“He said what he said before,” Fidone said. “He sees me as a flex tight end who can go out to the wide receiver spots. He said he likes the way I play.”

Fidone sees himself like Rees and Notre Dame see him.

“I can definitely see myself as an intermediate/vertical type tight end,” he said. “I can play inline. I’m pretty versatile which is what I think a lot of schools like.”

There are definitely a lot of schools liking Fidone judging from his offer list. In addition to Notre Dame he currently holds scholarship offers from Iowa State, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, Oklahoma State and many more. None, though, can match Notre Dame’s history of putting tight ends into the NFL.

“Their track record is really good,” Fidone said. “I really want to take a visit so that’s what we’re going to do here, hopefully soon.”

Fidone has already thought out an agenda for that visit.

“I’d like to see a practice or a workout, meet with the coaches, sit in on some meetings,” he shared. “I just want to see how they coach, what they go through in a day.”

The play of Notre Dame’s defensive line under the direction of Clark Lea and the coaching of Mike Elston has put it as a unit on the rise. They’re a long way from having the reputation of the programs tight end production but in a few years…who knows. One thing for certain is that the performance of the defensive line over the last couple of years is catching the attention of recruits and the Notre Dame coaching staff has responded with some excellent defensive line recruiting. David Abiara‍, DE, 6-4, 230, Legacy High School, Mansfield, TX is high on the Irish defensive line wish list and his head coach knows why.

“His length, he’s very long, long arms, long frame,” said head coach Chris Melson. “He’s very athletic, very fast, twitchy. He’s really an exceptional high school edge player. He’s kind of a great combination of athletic ability, size and God-given talent.”

Melson says that Abiara is just as talented off the field as he is on.

“He likes to carry conversation,” he explained. “He’ll talk about anything with anyone. I think he could be a lawyer, he’s a pretty good persuader. He’s highly intelligent. You can sit down and talk to him about any topic that comes up in our culture and he’ll have an opinion with some knowledge behind it. He’s a pretty unique guy in that sense.”

The academic part of Notre Dame was what drove Abiara to schedule an unofficial visit to South Bend just one week after receiving an offer from the Irish.

“They’re great at football but they’re a great academic school,” Melson said. “It’s a very prestigious place. His father spent some time in Chicago, lived there when he was a young man and grew up in the Chicago area and spent some time there. I hate to say it, but it’s just Notre Dame, it’s one of the big ones.”

“He said ‘Coach, I really liked it. I really had a good time. We really liked it.’ That’s what he said. ‘We really liked it.’”

Melson does not think that distance will be a factor in Abiara’s recruitment. That’s good for many schools because the Texan has received scholarship offers from schools as far away as Wisconsin and Northwestern. He’s also being highly recruited by closer programs such as Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Alabama. His family is committed to getting David the information he needs to make his most informed decision.

“He’s got a lot of family that lives in New Jersey,” Melson explained. “His uncles and aunts and cousins live out there. At the end of the day it’s where David feels the most comfortable and sees himself being successful on and off the field.”

These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Sports Daily.

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