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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2008

Another great day for Irish

ASSOCIATED PRESS

All those ugly losses didn't stop Notre Dame from landing a beauty of a recruiting class.

Same goes for Miami.

And while Alabama's first season under Nick Saban was so-so, the first Crimson Tide recruiting class the $4 million-per-year coach can truly call his own turned out top-ranked.

Despite coming off lackluster seasons, Notre Dame, Miami and Alabama - along with Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma - came away with the top recruiting classes yesterday, the first day of the national signing period for high school football players.

"It's a statement about tradition," said Allen Wallace, the national recruiting editor for Scout.com and publisher of SuperPrep magazine. "It's the hardest thing to get and it's the hardest to kill."

For Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, signing day went much better than the 2007 season, when the most storied program in college football finished 3-9. Still, Weis was able to lure some of the best prospects in the country to South Bend, Ind.

"It's still Notre Dame," said recruiting analyst Bobby Burton of Rivals.com, which had Alabama's class No. 1 and Notre Dame's No. 2. "At the same time, when a team is 3-9, highly ranked kids see an opportunity to play right away."

The Fighting Irish class includes a five-star prospect at quarterback (Dayne Crist from Sherman Oaks, Calif.), wide receiver (Michael Floyd from St.Paul) and tight end (Kyle Rudolph from Cincinnati) and plenty of defensive line help.

"I think our program needed this boost," Weis said. "I think this is a significant boost - the right type of players, the right type of kids and the right type of day. This is the type of day where everyone has to feel good, saying, 'What a good day.'•"

There were few good days for Randy Shannon in his first season at Miami. The Hurricanes went 5-7 and suffered several embarrassingly lopsided losses.

This recruiting class provides the promise of better times for the Hurricanes. Miami came away with quite a haul, much of it from the fertile South Florida area that has stocked past Miami championship teams.

"Randy Shannon has been a dynamic recruiter as a head coach," Burton said.

Prized defensive tackle Marcus Forston was one of eight players the Hurricanes signed from powerhouse Northwestern High School in Miami.

"This class is the foundation that we're building on, a foundation that's preparing us for the next step of what we're trying to get done at the University of Miami," Shannon said.

Saban went 7-6 in his first season at Alabama and the Crimson Tide's losing streak to rival Auburn reached six games.

Tide fans are hoping this year's stellar recruiting class, made up mostly of in-state players, is a sign Saban is starting to reclaim the state from coach Tommy

Tuberville and the Tigers.

"They completely clobbered Auburn," said analyst Tom Lemming from CSTV.

Alabama's class was strong heading into signing day and then got even better when Julio Jones, a wide receiver from Foley considered one of the best players in the nation, and linebacker Jerrell Harris from Gadsden decided to stay close to home and join the Crimson Tide.

"We were able to across the board attract some good players at just about every position," Saban said.



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