Luke Massa has dreamed of playing for Notre Dame for a long time. That’s why the Cincinnati St. Xavier quarterback will officially visit Notre Dame this weekend as a prospect for the recruiting class of 2010. Massa, 6-foot-5, 205-pound three-star recruit, will be visiting Notre Dame along with three other uncommitted recruits. They include his teammate, offensive lineman Matt James, plus Jeremy Ioane, a safety from Honolulu, and athlete Danny Spond of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. All four have scholarship offers from the Irish. Also visiting are quarterback Andrew Hendrix of Cincinnati Moeller and wide receiver Daniel Smith of Clay High School, both of whom are committed to Notre Dame’s recruiting class of 2010. By Sunday night, Massa could be Irish, too, according to his coach, Steve Specht. “I think it’s a dream come true for Luke from the standpoint that he grew up with the ‘Play Like A Champion’ plaque above his bed,” Specht said. “As a little boy, he always dreamed of going and playing at Notre Dame. And now it looks like he’s going to take his visit.” The visit is possible because of Specht’s efforts in getting Kelly to recruit the same player Kelly got to commit to Cincinnati last spring. “I pursued him,” Specht said of Kelly. “I said, ‘Brian, come on, Luke would love to go. What do you think?’ And that kind of got the ball rolling.” Kelly had not planned on again recruiting Massa, who completed 162 of 242 passes for 1,800 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions, Specht said. Specht said many people in the Tri-State area are still upset Kelly left the Bearcats for Notre Dame in December. “I don’t think Brian wanted to muddy the waters or ruffle any more feathers in Cincinnati,” Specht said. “And he wasn’t going to pursue any of the kids that had committed to Cincinnati out of respect for the program that he built. “I told him, ‘You did a lot for the city and you don’t owe the city anything else. You moved on.’ But I think he felt he loved Cincinnati and he wasn’t going to do anything that would hurt the program any more.” That left Specht with a decision. He could drop it or keep going. “So I pursued it hard for Luke because I knew it was always Luke’s dream and I knew Brian always loved Luke,” Specht said in a phone interview Tuesday. Specht said if former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis had offered Massa a long time ago, Massa might have already committed to Notre Dame. Specht spoke with his friend, former Irish defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. Tenuta said last spring Notre Dame wanted to wait. “The only other school Luke was interested in was Notre Dame,” Specht said. “And Charlie Weis was not interested in Luke.” When Massa asked him what he thought, Specht told Massa he did not think Notre Dame would offer. And Massa opted for Kelly and the Bearcats last spring. If Massa opts to commit to Notre Dame Sunday, Specht believes they are getting quite a prospect. “He will be a typical Brian Kelly project quarterback,” Specht said. “He’s going to bring his little skinny 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame in and in two years he’s going to be 6-5, 225 to 230. He’s going to develop his arm strength. “His upside is unbelievable. He’s pretty damn good right now. The upside for Luke is bigger than anybody I have ever coached.” “I will be shocked if he didn’t commit at the end of the visit,” he said. “But they are kids and you know how they change their minds.” Here’s a look at the rest of the uncommitted players visiting.
- One player who may be on the verge of changing his mind on his leader is James, the four-plus-star offensive lineman, and teammate of Massa. “I have seen two months ago where it was Ohio State leading everybody,” Specht said. “You have just seen Notre Dame climb a little bit and a little bit to the point where right now it’s a dead heat.” On Monday the 6-8, 280-pound James would not go quite that far. But he came close. “Right at the present, Ohio State might be a little in front but they are right up there with them,” James said of the Irish. James said he is hoping to learn more details on the offense from new offensive coordinator Charley Molnar. James said the fact that there are openings both next fall and in 2011 on the offensive line helps Notre Dame. James will announce on national signing day, Feb. 3.
- Ioane, who was a relatively unheard of prospect until recently, said he will announce on signing day, also. Ioane lists Boise State, Utah and Washington and the as his final four. He will leave Thursday from Honolulu and said he hopes to learn more about the Irish football program and its tradition on his visit. He’s also looking forward to visiting with two old teammates from Punahou School in Honolulu, linebacker Manti Te’o and wide receiver Roby Toma. Ioane plans to “hang out with them and see what their perspective is about the community and the school itself.” The fact that Te’o and Toma are at ND should help the Irish, “because I played with them last year and got pretty close with them last year.”
- Spond, rated a four-star athlete, played quarterback and safety at Columbine. TCU and Stanford are in his final three along with Notre Dame after he decommitted from Colorado, according to Rivals. Spond, a 6-3, 232-pounder who runs the 40 in 4.69, is projected by many as a linebacker in college.
Staff writer Jim Meenan: email@example.com (574) 235-6342