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    Notre Dame Welcomes 21 Football Signees

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    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    February 3, 1999

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame announced today that 21 high school seniors have signed national letters of intent indicating their plans to enroll at the University this fall and play football:

    Name              Pos.  Ht.    Wt.   Hometown (High School)
    Ambron, Neal      OL    6-7    275   Littleton, CO (Littleton)
    Beckstrom, Jason  DB    5-10   185   Tulsa, OK (Jenks)
    Campbell, Darrell DL    6-4    245   South Holland, IL (Thornwood)
    Curtin, Brennan   OL    6-8    295   Palm Beach, FL (Benjamin)
    Earl, Glenn       DB    6-1    185   Lisle, IL (Naperville North)
    

    Faine, Jeff OL 6-3 310 Saint Mary, FL (Seminole) Gillis, Ryan OL 6-3 315 Bowie, MD (DeMatha) Godsey, Gary TE 6-7 255 Tampa, FL (Jesuit) Hildbold, Joey P/K 5-11 175 Centreville, VA (Robinson) Hilliard, Cedric DL 6-3 295 Arlington, TX (Lamar)

    Jones, Julius RB 5-11 185 Big Stone Gap, VA (Powell Vlly) Milligan, Sean OL 6-4 285 Norcross, GA (Norcross) Molinaro, Jim DL 6-7 240 Bethlehem, PA (Catholic) Poree, Albert DB 5-10 185 New Orleans, LA (St. Augustine)

    Ryan, Pat LB 6-3 220 Billings, MT (West) Sapp, Gerome DB 6-0 210 Houston, TX (Lamar) Setta, Nick K/P 6-0 160 Lockport, IL (Lockport Township) Taylor, Jamaar WR 6-0 200 Mission, TX (Mission) Thomas, Justin LB 6-2 230 Spencer, OK (Star Spencer)

    Watson, Courtney RB/ATH 6-2 205 Sarasota, FL (Riverview) Yura, Chris RB/DB 5-11 195 Morgantown, WV (Morgantown)

    1999 University of Notre Dame
    Football Letter-of-Intent Signees

    Ambron, Neal -- USA Today honorable mention All-America selection . . . rated 86th nationally on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players . . . one of 14 players on Denver Post Blue Chip List . . . two-time first-team all-state pick in '97 and '98 as offensive tackle at Littleton High School in Littleton, Colo. . . . second-team pick on Las Vegas Sun Super 11 team . . . played both on the offensive and defensive line . . . great-grandfather Thomas Konop was dean of University of Notre Dame Law School from 1923-41.

    Beckstrom, Jason -- Helped Jenks High School team in Jenks, Okla., to 12-2 final record in '98, third straight Oklahoma Class 6A state title and seventh straight district championship . . . helped Jenks defense that didn't permit more than nine total yards in a game over last four regular-season contests . . . helped Jenks become first Oklahoma large class school to win three straight state crowns since Tulsa Washington in 1967-68-69 . . .caught two passes for 61 yards in 41-28 win over top-ranked and unbeaten Tulsa Union in state title game, avenging a 55-45 regular-season loss to Union . . . ranked among top five players in Oklahoma in scoring with 15 touchdowns in '98 . . . played at both tailback and cornerback as senior in '98 . . . rushed for 743 yards in '98 (averaging 8.5 yards pr carry) . . . rated special mention as running back on Daily Oklahoman all-state team for '98 . . . ran 100 meters in 10.48 to qualify for '98 state finals in that event but didn't run in finale after hamstring pull in 4x100 relay . . . averaged 8.8 yards per carry as junior in '97 while rushing 115 times for 1,010 yards and 13 TDs . . . returned two of his 10 kickoffs for TDs . . . made 34 tackles and broke up 11 passes in '97 as Jenks' defense limited opponents to 79.5 yards per game and 29 percent pass completion rate . . . career totals included 29 TDs . . . from same high school that produced '97-'98 Irish offensive line starter Jerry Wisne, defensive lineman Andy Wisne (he'll be a junior in '99) and sophomore-to-be lineman Sean Mahan . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Campbell, Darrell -- USA Today honorable mention prep All-America pick . . . rated 82nd nationally on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players . . . first-team all-state pick in Illinois by Chicago Tribune . . . named top player in SICA Blue for '98 at Thornwood High School in South Holland, Ill. . . . made 67 solo tackles as senior in '98, along with 13 tackles for loss and four sacks . . . played defensive end as sophomore, inside linebacker as junior and noseguard as senior . . . state qualifier in track.

    Curtin, Brennan -- USA Today honorable mention All-America pick . . . one of 10 offensive linemen on Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 team . . . played offensive guard and defensive tackle in '98 at The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach, Fla. . . . four-year starter in wing-T offense who started at tackle as freshman and sophomore and at guard his last two seasons . . . earned all-Palm Beach honors as junior and senior . . . second-team all-state in Class 2A in '97 . . . one of only two juniors named to Class 2A-6A all-district team . . . father Barry is a 1965 Notre Dame graduate . . . cousin Brian Baker was Irish walk-on receiver from Fort Wayne, Ind., from 1991-94 . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Earl, Glenn -- USA Today honorable mention All-America pick . . . played wide receiver and defensive back at Naperville North High School in Naperville, Ill. . . . played cornerback as senior in '98 . . . helped team to 10-3 mark as senior, making 56 tackles and intercepting four passes . . . caught 38 passes, six for touchdowns, on offense in '98, averaging 16 yards per reception . . . first-team all-state pick in '98 by Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune . . . named DuPage Valley Conference's top defensive player in '98 . . . also a standout basketball player.

    Faine, Jeff -- USA Today first-team prep All-American . . . named to Super Southern 100 team by Atlanta Journal-Constitution . . . rated one of top 100 national prospects by Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram . . . rated 63rd nationally on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players . . . rated 74th best prospect by ESPN.com and 69th by The Sporting News . . . rated one of top 25 Florida prospects by Palm Beach Post . . . Florida Class 5-A all-state pick in '98 as senior at Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla. . . . honorable mention pick on Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team . . . helped team average 400 yards per game on offense while leading the way for two 1,000-yard rushers in '98 . . had 77 pancake blocks as senior in '98 . . . plans to major in mechanical engineering.

    Gillis, Ryan -- Parade prep All-American . . . USA Today honorable mention All-America pick . . . rated one of top 30 national prospects by Football News . . . helped DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., to 12-0 record in '98 and its sixth Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title in eight years . . . three-year starter was first-team pick as offensive lineman on Washington Post all-metro team for '98 . . . first-team selection as lineman on Washington Post all-WCAC squad . . . helped team to number-two final ranking in '98 by Washington Post. . . . from same high school as current Irish freshman tight end John Owens, alonmg with former Irish Andre Jones (1987-90) and John Taliaferro (1991-92) . . . played for coach Bill McGregor whose daughter Kristen is a junior at Notre Dame.

    Godsey, Gary -- USA Today honorable mention All-America pick . . . rated 55th on list of top 100 national prospects by The Sporting News . . . rated 25th nationally on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players . . . one of five tight ends on Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 team . . . rated one of top 25 Florida prospects by Palm Beach Post . . . had solid senior season at quarterback in '98, throwing for more than 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns, with only four interceptions at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla. . . . threw for more than 400 yards against Miami Pace in one '98 state playoff contest . . . won all-Hillsborough County honors as both junior and senior . . . split time between quarterback and tight end as a junior in '97 . . . had nine touchdown receptions as a junior to go with eight sacks while also playing outside linebacker . . . standout basketball player who averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds as junior at Jesuit . . . brother George was redshirt freshman backup quarterback at Georgia Tech in '98 . . . another brother Greg played football at Air Force . . . father John played offensive tackle at Alabama under Bear Bryant in '60s . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Hildbold, Joey -- Virginia first-team all-state punter at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Va. . . . first-team selection as punter on Washington Post all-metro team . . . averaged 39.7 yards per punt as senior in '98, with only 22 yards in punt returns against his team . . . hit 19 of 22 PATs and seven of 14 field goals in '98, with long of 45 yards . . . first team as both punter and kicker on Washington Post all-Virginia AAA Patriot team for '98 . . . rated one of top 40 players in Virginia by Richmond Times-Dispatch . . . put 60 percent of his kickoffs into end zone in '98 . . . 21 of his 37 '98 kickoffs were for touchbacks . . . caught 12 passes, two for touchdowns, as wide receiver in '98 . . . helped '97 team to 14-0 record by hitting two of four field goals and 31 of 41 PATs . . . helped team to '97 Virginia state title . . . also competed in wrestling and soccer . . . finished second in district and sixth in region in wrestling as junior . . . father Bill is 1973 Notre Dame graduate who competed in wrestling and rowing at Notre Dame . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Hilliard, Cedric -- USA Today first-team All-America defensive lineman . . . listed by Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News as one of top 100 national prospects . . . listed 21st nationally on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players . . . rated 50th on list of top 100 national prospects by The Sporting News . . . rated 34th among Texas prep prospects by Austin American-Statesman . . . honorable mention pick on Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team . . . had 72 tackles, 11 for losses, in '98 as senior at Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas . . . also caused five fumbles and blocked two kicks while helping team to 9-2 mark . . . made 70 tackles, 20 for losses, and had eight sacks as junior in . . . finished third in shot put in '98 Texas state track meet at 58-11 '97 . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Jones, Julius -- Honorable mention USA Today prep All-American . . . listed 88th nationally on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players . . . rated one of top 40 players in Virginia and one of top six running backs by Richmond Times-Dispatch . . . named to Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team . . . rushed for 2,564 yards and 36 touchdowns as senior in '98 at Powell Valley High School in Big Stone Gap, Va. . . . career totals included 614 carries for 5,803 yards and 86 TDs . . . intercepted 10 career passes as a safety . . . helped Powell Valley to 28 straight victories and Virginia Group A-Division 2 state titles in 1997 and 1998 . . . brother Thomas earned all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors as junior in '98 while leading Virginia in rushing . . . twin sister Knetris will be freshman at Virginia.

    Milligan, Sean -- A USA Today second-team All-America offensive lineman . . . rated 86th on list of top 100 national prospects by ESPN.com and 56th on a similar list published by The Sporting News . . . 40th nationally on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 players . . . one of 10 offensive linemen on Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 team . . . rated one of top 50 prospects in Georgia (and one of six offensive linemen) by Atlanta Journal-Constitution . . . honorable mention pick on Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team . . . all-county selection as junior in '97 at Norcross High School in Norcross, Ga. . . . finished third in shot put at Georgia state track meet as junior at 54-6 . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Molinaro, Jim -- USA Today honorable mention All-America pick . . . had 20 solo tackles 29 assists, one and a half sacks, six forced passes and three batted passes as senior in '98 while helping team to 7-4 mark at Bethlehem Catholic High School in Bethlehem, Pa. . . . had 46 tackles, 16 of them solo, two and a half sacks, four tackles for losses, 14 forced passes and one batted pass as junior in '97 . . . named East Penn Conference outstanding offensive lineman as junior . . . played tackle on both offense and defense as senior . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Poree, Albert -- Made 58 tackles as senior cornerback at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, La., in '98 and also intercepted five passes and forced four fumbles . . . returned two punts for touchdowns as senior . . . has been timed in 4.35 in 40 . . . from same high school that produced 1986-87 Irish basketball Donald Royal.

    Ryan, Pat -- Two-time Montana Class AA defensive player of the year . . . USA Today honorable mention All-America pick . . . named Gatorade Circle of Champions High School Football Player of the Year in '98 for Montana at Billings West High School in Billings, Mont. . . . honorable mention pick on Las Vegas Sun Super 11 team . . . helped team to 10-1 record in '98 and its second straight Class AA state title . . . made 194 tackles in '98, 156 of them solo efforts, 18 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 24 quarterback hurries, nine caused fumbles, five recoveries, seven passes broken up and one interception . . . finished second in state in receiving in '98 with 43 catches for 626 yards and four touchdowns . . . helped team to 29-22 win in state championship game by making 20 tackles . . . also played tight end and quarterback (started twice there as junior) in high school . . . accumulated more than 300 tackles in junior and senior seasons combined . . . father Bill is 1965 Notre Dame graduate . . . brother Casey will be sophomore on University of Montana football team in '99 . . . first Montana native to play for Irish since Dean Studer (Billings), who played in 1954-56 and started at halfback in '55 . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp

    Sapp, Gerome -- Parade prep All-American . . .USA Today first-team All-America defensive back . . . rated 15th on Chicago Sun-Times list of top 100 national players . . . listed by both Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News as one of top 100 national prospects. . . rated sixth nationally on lists of top 100 national prospects by ESPN.com and The Sporting News . . . rated one of top 30 prospects nationally by Football News . . . rated top player in Texas by Austin American-Statesman . . . rated one of top 25 national prospects by Palm Beach Post . . . an honorable mention pick by Orlando Sentinel on its All-Southern team . . . had 58 solo and 64 assisted tackles as senior in '98, to go with six caused fumbles and three recoveries at Lamar High Schoo in Houston, Texas . . . intercepted five passes as senior, returning two for touchdowns . . . caught three passes for 62 yards in '98 as part-time receiver and returned one punt for a score . . . made 101 tackles and intercepted five passes as junior in '97 . . . three-year starter for Redskins . . . named to USA Today Super 25 preseason team for '98 . . . runs 400 meters in track and helped team to state finals in 4x400 relay as junior . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.

    Setta, Nick -- Parade prep All-American . . . USA Today first-team All-America punter . . . rated number-one kicker in the country . . . listed by Dallas Morning News as one of top 100 national prospects (and one of only two kickers on list) . . . first-team all-state punter on Chicago Tribune team in both '97 and '98 . . . rated 13th on Detroit Free-Press Best of the Midwest team . . . punted 39 times for 47.8-yard average as senior in '98, including boots of 68, 61 and 60 yards for Lockport Township High School in Lockport, Ill. . . . hit 11 of 22 field goals in '98 (including two from 49 yards out) and 29 of 33 PATs . . . threw for two touchdowns in '98 on fake field goal situations . . hit field goals from 45 and 47 yards in '98 season opener . . . put 90 percent of his kickoffs into end zone . . . hit 11 of 15 field goals as junior . . . hit the crossbar on 72-yard field goal attempt vs. Wheaton Warrenville South in '97 Class 6A playoff opener . . . kicked Illinois state record 59-yard field goal as sophomore in '96 vs. Bloom . . . averaged 46.7 yards per punt as junior, with 27 of 64 kickoffs going for touchbacks . . . finished sixth in Illinois state track meet in high jump as junior and also ranked as top hurdler . . . finished 11th in Illinois state cross country meet in '98, fifth in '97 and helped Lockport to Illinois state cross country crowns in '96 and '97.

    Taylor, Jamaar -- Rated one of top 100 prospects in Texas by Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram . . . rated 75th best prospect nationally by The Sporting News . . . listed 45th among top 100 players nationally by Chicago Sun-Times . . . rated 39th among Texas prospects by Austin-American Statesman . . . caught 41 passes as wide receiver as senior in '98 for 972 yards and six scores, for average of 23.7 yards per reception . . . rushed 129 times for 1,346 yards and 15 touchdowns from tailback spot as senior at Mission High School in Mission, Texas . . . averaged 20 yards per catch as sophomore and junior combined.

    Thomas, Justin -- USA Today honorable mention All-America pick . . . named Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-state by Oklahoma City's Daily Oklahoman . . . one of 17 players on '98 Blue Chip List by The Oklahoman . . . made 145 tackles, five sacks and three fumble recoveries as senior in '98 at Star Spencer High School in Spencer, Okla. . . . played fullback on offense in '98, rushing for 341 yards, catching passes for another 234 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns . . . blocked two punts as senior . . . selected for Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State football game in July '99.

    Watson, Courtney - Rushed for nearly 1,300 yards as senior running back in '98 to earn all-Sarasota area honors at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla. . . . added more than 1,100 rushing yards as junior in '97 . . . played wide receiver as freshman and sophomore, then switched to running back as junior and senior, while also returning kickoffs and punts . . . earned second-team all-area honors as junior in '97 . . . also competed in basketball and track (has long jumped better than 23 feet).

    Yura, Chris - USA Today honorable mention prep All-American . . . rated 73rd among top 100 national players by Chicago Sun-Times . . . broke former Penn State standout Curt Warner's career state record for touchdowns with five in his final home game on way to 9-1 regular season for Morgantown High School in Morgantown, W.Va. . . . avenged only regular-season loss with 18-0 win over University High in state playoff quarterfinals, thanks to his 234 rushing yards and two scores . . . finished with 103 career TDs (breaking Robert Alexander's previous West Virginia state record of 92), including 50 as senior in '98 (a West Virginia state record, breaking Warner's mark of 41) to go with 2,548 rushing yards on 277 carries . . . scored a TD in 25 straight games to end his career . . . helped his Morgantown team to West Virginia's '98 Class AAA state title game, where it lost 69-52 to J.R. House's Nitro team, -- with Yura limited to 20 yards on 10 first-half carries due to turf toe . . . received Kennedy Award as West Virginia player of the year as junior in '97 . . . rushed for 2,017 yards and 37 TDs on 204 carries in '97 . . . top effort in '97 featured 341 yards and six TDs on 24 carries vs. seventh-rated Wheeling Park, including 280 second-half yards . . . had five interceptions from free safety spot in '97 . . . helped '97 team end regular season ranked number one among Class AAA schools . . . carried 107 times for 1,103 yards and 13 TDs as sophomore in '96 . . . ran 38 yards for a score vs. Buckhannon-Upshur on his first-ever rushing carry as a sophomore in '96 . . . brother Jon will be redshirt sophomore linebacker at West Virginia in '99 . . . attended Notre Dame summer football camp.


     

     

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