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SOUTH BEND, IND. Irish land top 3 recruits despite bad end to year



Published: Sun, February 9, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Coach Ty Willingham said the class was solid from "Abiamiri to Zbikowski."

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- At least Notre Dame finished strong on the recruiting front.

Beaten badly in their final two games of the season, the Fighting Irish on Wednesday landed all three players they were waiting to hear from in the final week before signing day.

Defensive end Victor Abiamiri and cornerback Ambrose Wooden, both from the Gilman School in Baltimore, and linebacker Mitchell Thomas, of Opelika, Ala., signed letters of intent to complete a 22-player class of incoming freshmen.

"You're running a race, and you hope you can make the last step, the last move to put you in the winner's circle," Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham said. "In this particular case, we were fortunate to do that. The addition of the Maryland guys, the addition of Mitchell Thomas, those were big gains for us."

The Irish missed out on high-profile quarterback C.J. Leak -- he chose Florida -- but they did sign one of the nation's top prospects in Brady Quinn, of Dublin, Ohio.

"He's just what Notre Dame was looking for," Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report said. "He can run the West Coast offense. He has a great arm, is a very good athlete and runs very well." Lemming added that Quinn is among his top-four rated quarterbacks.

Nice addition

Tight end Greg Olsen, of Wayne, N.J., also chose Notre Dame. He's 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds and was rated No. 1 at his position by Lemming.

Olsen, whose older brother, Chris, was a freshman quarterback for the Irish last season, committed to the Irish last month.

"We believe it's a very solid class from A to Z, or from Abiamiri to Zbikowski," Willingham said. "It's a good, good class."




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