Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham announced that 22 high school seniors signed national letters of intent with plans to join the Irish.
Feb. 5, 2003
Twenty-two high school seniors have signed national letters of intent with plans to enroll at the University of Notre Dame in August 2003 and play for the Irish football squad.
The 22 players come from 15 states - Minnesota (3), Maryland (2), Pennsylvania (2), Ohio (2), Virginia (2), Alabama (2), California, New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Connecticut, Florida, Texas and Massachusetts.
As listed by position, the Irish add to their roster four wide receivers, four linebackers, three defensive backs, two offensive linemen (including one center), two tight ends, two defensive linemen, running back, one fullback, one punter, one quarterback, plus another running back who could play defensive back -- though many of the players played multiple positions in high school and could move to other spots once they arrive on campus.
Among the 22 players are:
Two members of the Parade All-America team - tight end Greg Olsen (Wayne, N.J.) and center John Sullivan (Old Greenwich, Conn.).
Five members of the USA Today prep All-America first team - defensive lineman Victor Abiamiri (Randallstown, Md.), Olsen, offensive lineman Ryan Harris (St. Paul, Minn.), defensive back Tom Zbikowski (Arlington Heights, Ill., listed as an athlete on the USA Today squad) and defensive lineman Trevor Laws (Burnsville, Minn.) -- and one member of the second team (Sullivan).
Eight players rated among the top 100 nationally by ESPN and the Chicago Sun-Times - Abiamiri (rated eighth overall player nationally), Harris (51st), Laws (41st), Olsen (third), quarterback Brady Quinn (20th), Sullivan (61st), wide receiver Ambrose Wooden (67th) and Zbikowski (29th).
Five members of the 20-player "Best of the Midwest" team selected by the Detroit Free-Press - Harris (#2), Quinn (#6), Laws (#10), Zbikowski (#11) and tight end John Carlson (#19).
Three players rated among the Hot 100 in the nation by The Sporting News- Olsen (10th), Abiamiri (23rd) and defensive back Freddie Parish (72nd).
Three players rated on the CBS SportsLine.com top 100 dream team - Olsen (#2 among tight ends), Sullivan (#14 among offensive linemen) and Parish (#12 among defensive backs).
Nine players who played in the U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio last month - Abiamiri, Carlson, Harris, Olsen, Quinn, Sullivan, running back Travis Thomas, Wooden and Zbikowski (Laws was selected but declined because of his commitment to the high school wrestling season).
Six players who attended the Notre Dame football camp in the summer of 2002 - Laws, wide receiver Chinedum Ndukwe, Price, Quinn, wide receiver Jeff Samardzija and Zbikowski.
2003 University of Notre Dame
Football National Letter-of-Intent Signees
Abiamiri (Ab-ee-uh-MEER-ee), Victor (DL, 6-5, 245, Randallstown, Md., Gilman) - First-team USA Today prep All-American on defensive line . . . named all-metro defensive player of the year by Baltimore Sun . . . rated eighth on ESPN list of top 100 players nationally . . . rated 23rd on The Sporting News Hot 100 list of players nationally . . . led the Gilman School in Baltimore, Md., in '02 with 52 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and one interception as defensive end while helping Greyhounds to 10-0 record, #15 national ranking in USA Today and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title . . . had five sacks in season-opening win over DeMatha while helping hold offense to 42 rushing yards . . . also named defensive player of the year on Baltimore Sun all-Baltimore City/County team . . . won all-Metro honors from Baltimore Sun as junior with his 16 sacks . . . had five tackles and two sacks in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio . . . brothers Rob (current sophomore wide receiver) and Paschal (freshman wide receiver) play football at Maryland . . . from same high school as freshman-to-be defensive back Ambrose Wooden.
Anastasio (ahn-uh-STAH-zee-oh), Chase (WR, 6-2, 190, Burke, Va., Robinson) - Caught 20 passes for 433 yards and six touchdowns as senior in '02 at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Va. . . . rushed 112 times for 681 yards and seven TDs as well, leading the team in rushing and receiving despite missing four games in 11-1 season due to ankle sprain . . . intercepted a pass and blocked a punt as safety on defense . . . won all-league honors from Washington Post at both running back and defensive back as senior in AAA Patriot District . . . Virginia all-state pick as junior as defensive back . . . honorable mention selection as defensive back on Washington Post all-Metro squad for '02 . . . from same school that produced 1999-2002 Notre Dame punter Joey Hildbold.
Borseti, Nick (LB, 6-1, 205, Saugus, Mass., St. John's Prep) - Had 100 tackles, 13 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception as senior in 2002 at St. John's Prep in Danvers, Mass. . . . won all-conference honors as senior . . . a starter since his freshman season . . . helped '02 team to Massachusetts Division I Super Bowl state title contest . . . helped team to 11-1 record as junior, making 125 tackles and accumulating 11 sacks and 20 tackles for loss . . . from same school that produced current Miami Dolphin fullback Rob Konrad and Boston College quarterback Brian St. Pierre.
Brockington, Joe (LB, 6-1, 215, Palmyra, Pa., Palmyra) - Shoulder injury in second game of senior season ended his 2002 contributions . . . made 65 solo tackles on and 45 assists on defense and rushed for 1,046 yards and 13 touchdowns as tailback as junior in '01 at Palmyra High School in Palmyra, Pa. . . . played several games at quarterback during junior season . . . finished with approximately 3,500 career rushing yards . . . also plays basketball.
Carlson, John (TE, 6-6, 230, Litchfield, Minn., Litchfield) - Ranked 19th on Detroit Free-Press 20-player "Best of the Midwest" team . . . named to 10-member Super Preps team by Minneapolis Star-Tribune . . . four-year starter at tight end at Litchfield High School in Litchfield, Minn. . . . caught 41 passes, seven for touchdowns, for 471 yards as senior in 2002 . . . made 79 tackles and two sacks as defensive end . . . career totals on offense included 95 catches for 1,331 yards and 23 TDs . . . helped team to 6-3 mark in '02 and share of league title . . . Minnesota all-state pick in '02 . . . played in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio . . . starting center in basketball, helping team to 32-2 mark as junior . . . averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds in basketball as junior on Minnesota Class 2A state title team . . . also plays tennis, helping team to state finals as junior . . . brother plays basketball at St. Cloud State and both his parents attended there.
Gardner, Isaiah (DB/RB, 5-10, 190, Virginia Beach, Va., Salem) - Rushed for 1,010 yards and 14 touchdowns as senior in 2002 at Salem High School in Virginia Beach, Va. . . . also played cornerback as senior in '02 . . . accounted for 40 TDs as junior and senior combined . . . Virginia all-state pick as a junior while rushing for 1,118 yards and 25 TDs and catching 25 passes for 313 yards and two TDs.
Harris, Ryan (OL, 6-5, 255, St. Paul, Minn., Cretin-Derham Hall) - USA Today first-team prep All-American . . . ranked second on Detroit Free-Press 20-player "Best of the Midwest" squad . . . rated 51st on ESPN list of top 100 players nationally . . . named to 10-member Super Preps team by Minneapolis Star-Tribune . . . did not allow a sack either of his last two seasons at Cretin-Derham High School in St. Paul, Minn. . . . three-year starter who helped team to 10-2 record in '02 . . . helped team to 23-3 combined record in 2000-01 before falling to 7-4 in 2002 . . . made 46 tackles and 11 sacks in '02 as defensive tackle . . . played in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio . . . from same high school as current Irish tight end Marcus Freeman and running back Rashon Powers-Neal.
Hedgmon, LaBrose (DB, 5-10, 180, Hoover, Ala., Hoover) - Helped team to 13-1 record in '02 with his 45 tackles, four interceptions, 15 passes broken up and two tackles for loss for Hoover High School in Birmingham, Ala. . . . helped Hoover to 39-29 victory over Jeff Davis in Alabama Class 6A state title game . . . helped Hoover win state title in '00 as sophomore, followed by Alabama Class 6A runnerup spot in '01.
Laws, Trevor (DL, 6-2, 290, Burnsville, Minn., Apple Valley) - USA Today first-team All-America defensive lineman . . . ranked 10th on 20-member Detroit Free-Press "Best of the Midwest" squad . . . Gatorade Player of the Year in Minnesota . . . rated 41st on ESPN's list of top 100 players nationally . . . named to 10-member Super Preps team by Minneapolis Star-Tribune . . . recorded 87 tackles, 17 for loss, and 11 sacks as senior in 2002 at Apple Valley High School in Apple Valley, Minn. . . . played offensive tackle and guard on that side of the ball . . .Minnesota first-team all-state selection as defensive tackle . . . made 85 tackles, 10 sacks and 25 tackles for loss as junior in '01 . . . two-way, three-year starter . . . . invited to play in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio but declined because of wrestling commitment . . . finished 49-0 as state champion super-heavyweight wrestler as junior and ranked as number-one high school wrestler in country with 96-4 mark coming into senior campaign . . . has top shot put mark of 58 feet.
McConnell, Ashley (FB, 6-0, 240, Adairsville, Ga., Adairsville) - Rushed 88 times for 485 yards and scored six touchdowns as senior in 202 . . . had eight catches for 92 yards and one score . . . made 65 tackles and two interceptions as inside linebacker on defense in helping team to 8-2-1 record . . . earned all-league and all-area mention at fullback . . . rushed for more than 500 yards with seven TDs as a junior, while helping Adairsville to Georgia Class 2A payoffs as both sophomore and junior . . . born in Naples, Italy . . . father is a Morocco native, mother served in U.S. Navy overseas.
Ndukwe (en-DUKE-way), Chinedum (SHIN-uh-doom) (WR, 6-3, 190, Powell, Ohio, Coffman) - Honorable mention pick on Detroit Free-Press "Best of the Midwest" squad . . . caught 48 passes for 740 yards as senior in 2002, 12 for touchdowns, at Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio . . . earned all-Central Ohio honors in '02 . . . finished with 150 career catches . . . caught 59 passes for 850 yards and 11 TDs as junior . . . from same high school as fellow Irish freshman-to-be Brady Quinn and current Notre Dame men's basketball freshman guard Chris Quinn . . . brother Ikechuku is offensive lineman at Northwestern . . . has a brother who is a Notre Dame graduate and a sister who is a freshman at nearby Saint Mary's College.
Olsen, Greg (TE, 6-6, 245, Wayne, N.J., Wayne Hills) - USA Today first-team prep All-America selection . . . rated third overall on ESPN's list of top 100 players nationally . . . ranked 10th nationally on list of Hot 100 prospects by The Sporting News . . . one of three finalists for Gatorade National Player of the Year, after earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors for New Jersey . . . ranked second nationally among tight ends on CBS SportsLine.com top 100 dream team . . . helped team to 12-0 mark in 2002 and New Jersey Group 3 state title . . . caught 38 passes for 703 yards and 14 touchdowns as senior in 2002 at Wayne Hills High School in Wayne, N.J. . . . also rushed six times for 116 yards . . . made 87 tackles to go with 25 tackles for loss and 15 sacks and four fumbles caused as defensive end . . . named defensive player of the year for '02 by Newark Star-Ledger . . . two-time first-team New Jersey all-state pick . . . as junior had 89 tackles, 35 for loss . . . also has experience as long snapper . . . averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game as power forward in basketball . . . has thrown javelin 161 1/2 feet . . . younger brother of current Irish sophomore-to-be quarterback Chris Olsen.
Parish, Freddie, Jr. (DB, 6-1, 195, Redondo Beach, Calif., Long Beach Poly) - Ranked 72nd nationally on list of Hot 100 prospects by The Sporting News . . . rated #12 nationally among defensive backs on CBS SportsLine.com top 100 dream team . . . made 71 solo tackles, three interceptions, caused four fumbles and recovered four more, two sacks as senior free safety in 2002 at Long Beach Poly High School in Long Beach, Calif. . . . helped team to 11-2 record . . . attended Redondo Union High School as freshman, then South High School in Torrance as sophomore . . . started at tailback as sophomore and won all-California Interscholastic Federation honors as cornerback . . . father Fred, Sr., was wide receiver at UCLA.
Price, Geoffrey - (P, 6-3, 180, Hurst, Texas, Heritage) - Averaged 45.6 yards per punt as junior in 2001, then 39.5-yard average as senior at Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas . . . had career long punt of 69 yards . . . played free safety on defense, ranking as second-leading tackler on team as senior with 92 stops and two interceptions.
Quinn, Brady (QB, 6-4, 210, Dublin, Ohio, Coffman) - Ranked sixth on 20-player Detroit Free-Press "Best of the Midwest" team . . . rated 20th on ESPN's list of top 100 players nationally . . . Columbus Dispatch and Ohio Capital Conference offensive player of the year . . . completed 143 of 258 passes as senior in 2002 for 2,149 yards at Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio . . . threw for 25 touchdowns and had only four passes intercepted while also rushing for 108 yards and six TDs . . . helped team to 8-3 mark in '02 . . . named to Division I Ohio all-state team . . . played in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio . . . two-year starter who threw for 2,200 yards and 20 TDs as junior in '01 in 9-4 season that saw Coffman reach Ohio Division I state semifinals . . . from same high school as Irish freshman-to-be wide receiver Chinedum Ndukwe . . . from same high school as current Notre Dame men's basketball freshman guard Chris Quinn (no relation) . . . joins list of former Irish quarterbacks from Ohio that includes Scott Grooms, Rick Slager, Ralph Guglielmi.
Samardzija (suh-MARR-zhuh), Jeff (WR, 6-4, 190, Valparaiso, Ind., Valparaiso) - Finished second in voting for Mr. Football honor in Indiana and was named top receiver in state . . . honorable mention selection on Detroit Free-Press "Best of the Midwest" team . . . caught 50 passes for 1,044 yards as senior in 2002, nine for touchdowns, at Valparaiso High School in Valparaiso, Ind. . . . also threw for two TDs and scored on a 65-yard run . . . helped team to 12-2 record in '02 and state semifinals . . . named to Associated Press Indiana Class 5-A all-state first team . . . made 40 tackles and three interceptions at free safety as senior . . . as junior caught 55 passes for 1,197 yards and 10 TDs, helping team to Indiana Class 5A state title game . . . . . . also played basketball and baseball, finishing 8-1 in '02 as right-handed pitcher with 3.75 ERA.
Stephenson, Dwight, Jr. (LB, 6-3, 237, Delray Beach, Fla., Pope John Paul II) - Had 80 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 27 sacks as senior in 2002, tying for Palm Beach County lead in that category, at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton, Fla. . . . named to Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Super 11 squad and also earned first-team all-county honors . . . played four different positions, mostly at linebacker and end on defense . . . averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game in basketball . . . father was All-America center with Alabama and was NFL Hall of Fame pick who played with Miami Dolphins.
Sullivan, John (OL, 6-4, 280, Old Greenwich, Conn., Greenwich) - Parade prep All-American . . . USA Today second-team All-American . . . Gatorade Player of the Year in Connecticut . . . rated 61st on ESPN list of top 100 players nationally . . . rated #14 among offensive linemen nationally on CBS SportsLine.com top 100 dream team . . . starter at center from sophomore season on, also playing nose guard on defense, at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Conn. . . . named offensive MVP by Connecticut Post . . . helped team to 12-1-1 mark in '02, including FCIAC league title and spot in Connecticut Class LL title game . . . made 20 tackles for loss and 12 sacks in '02 on defense . . . achieved 92-4 record as heavyweight wrestler prior to senior season, ranking 17th nationally among heavyweights . . . played in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio . . . a standout water polo player who also played rugby and had brothers play rugby at Indiana and Bucknell . . . from same high school that produced former San Francisco 49er quarterback Steve Young.
Thomas, Mitchell (LB, 6-3, 210, Opelika, Ala., Smiths Station) - Made 70 tackles as senior in '02 at Smiths Station High School in Smiths, Ala. . . . also rushed for 500 yards and five touchdowns as running back . . . a third-team linebacker on Fox Sports Net South All-South team.
Thomas, Travis (RB, 6-1, 200, Washington, Pa., Washington) - Rushed for 1,176 yards and 18 touchdowns as senior in 2002 at Washington High School in Washington, Pa. . . . caught 25 passes for 420 yards as senior . . . finished with 2,730 career rushing yards and 56 TDs, making him third best career rusher in school history . . . had 1,053 yards and 23 TDs on 105 carries as junior . . . made 90 solo tackles and 50 assists at strong safety in '01, then played outside linebacker in '02 . . . helped team to 15-0 record and Pennsylvania Class AA state title as junior, then followed that up with 7-3 mark in 2002 . . . played in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio . . . sprinter who has run 100, 200 and 400 meters and competed in 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Wooden, Ambrose (WR, 6-1, 190, Baltimore, Md., Gilman) - Baltimore Sun all-Metro offensive player of the year and all-Baltimore City/County offensive player of the year for '02 as quarterback at the Gilman School in Baltimore, Md. . . . ranked 67th on ESPN list of top 100 players nationally . . . helped Gilman to 10-0 record and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title, rushing for 1,635 yards and 22 touchdowns and throwing for 1,127 yards and 13 TDs, while playing mostly quarterback but some as defensive back . . . finished with career totals of 4,033 rushing yards and 46 TDs, plus 3,228 passing yards and 30 TDs . . . set Maryland state record with his 7,261 career total offense yards . . . two-time Baltimore Sun all-Metro selection . . . also handled punting and kicking for Gilman . . . named player of week by Baltimore Sun on Oct. 2, 2002, after 48-45 win over Mount St. Joseph in which he threw for 248 yards (TD passes of 19, 28 and 45 yards) and rushed for 196 yards (and two TDs), including 65-yard scoring run on first play of game and game-winning 22-yard run with 1:14 to play . . . made an interception as defensive back in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio . . . a pitcher and infielder in baseball . . . from same high school as Irish freshman-to-be defensive lineman Victor Abiamiri.
Zbikowski (ZIB-uh-cow-ski), Tom (DB, 6-0, 185, Arlington Heights, Ill., Buffalo Grove) - USA Today first-team prep All-American . . . named Chicago area player of the year as senior by Chicago Sun-Times . . . ranked 11th on 20-member Detroit Free-Press "Best of the Midwest" team . . . rated 29th on ESPN list of top 100 players nationally . . . threw for 1,382 yards and 11 touchdowns as senior in 2002, rushed for 1,287 yards and 23 TDs (Buffalo Grove single-season record), made 41 tackles and three interceptions as a safety at Buffalo Grove High School in Buffalo Grove, Ill. . . . named to Illinois all-state teams by Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign News-Gazette . . . selected Great Northwest defensive player of the year by Pioneer Press . . . completed 85 of 157 for 1,247 yards as junior, with 13 TDs and four interceptions . . . rushed for 1,049 yards and 18 TDs on 162 attempts during 10-2 junior season . . . helped Buffalo Grove to 21-3 mark (11-1 in '02) as a starter at quarterback, including consecutive Illinois Class 7A quarterfinal playoff appearances in '01 and '02 . . . two-time Great Northwest selection . . . set Buffalo Grove career records for points scored (274), TDs (45), rushing attempts (4-6), rushing yards (2,657) and passing attempts (484) . . . three-year starter as both quarterback and safety also returned punts and kickoffs . . . a nationally-ranked boxer who has competed in Golden Gloves program since he was age nine, achieving 60-13 amateur record . . . a Silver Gloves national finalist in 1998, '99 and '00. . . played defensive back in U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio, making five tackles and breaking up two passes . . . top-notch sprinter who finished sixth in 100 meters in Illinois state prep track championships in '02.