Irish laying pipeline in Virginia

With two fast commitments from the same high school in the past two years, Notre Dame appears to be laying the foundation of a potentially fruitful recruiting connection in the hills of northern Virginia.

Greer Martini is one of several top recruits at the Woodberry Forest high school.

It didn’t take long for 2014 linebacker Greer Martini to become the first Notre Dame commit of his class earlier this month. Martini, who was an All-State inside linebacker as a sophomore at the Woodberry Forest School last year, took the Irish up on their scholarship offer shortly after returning from camp in South Bend this summer. He and his teammates at Woodberry Forest are starting to establish a reputation for their school as a place to look for top defensive talent in the budding hotbed of Virginia high school football.

It’s a particularly intriguing stop for schools like Notre Dame because of the school’s sterling academic reputation. The all-boys’ boarding school holds class six days per week and requires lengthy study hall sessions each night. The combination of good academics and a football program that has lost five games in the past four years has started to attract a specific type of student, according to the team’s head coach Clint Alexander.

“I think we started to become a school if you want outstanding academics and you want to eventually play at one of the best college football programs where academics are still a priority kids are looking at our school,” said Alexander, who is about to begin his eight season at Woodberry Forest.

Newly-enrolled Irish freshman C.J. Prosise is a Woodberry Forest alum, as is Stanford’s junior safety Ed Reynolds and Doug Randolph, a 2013 linebacker prospect committed to the Cardinal. Randolph also strongly considered Notre Dame and doesn’t appear to have completely ruled out the Irish yet. The academic connection gives colleges with a good classroom reputation an immediate leg up when pitching themselves to Woodberry’s players.

“Coming from Woodberry Forest, an excellent academic institution, there was a great connection right out of the starting box for us with C.J.,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said when Prosise officially joined the Irish in February.

Like Martini, the Woodberry Forest’s other prospects worked from a short list of schools they wanted to visit and made their decisions quickly. Prosise pulled the trigger a day after receiving his offer from Notre Dame last May. Randolph was the first member of his class to verbally commit to Stanford.

Part of that decisiveness comes from each player knowing what he is looking for going into the process, and part of it comes from flying slightly under the radar. Alexander explained that most of his players won’t receive more than three stars from recruiting services because their six-day-a-week academic schedule keeps them from frequently attending camps and combines where they would be able to showcase their talents against other top recruits.

Martini is currently a three-star prospect viewed by most recruiting analysts as a solid, blue-collar linebacker without the raw physical abilities to become a blue-chip player.

“He’s a smart, heady backer,” said veteran analyst Tom Lemming. “He takes few missteps. He’s not a light-outs athlete, but he’s a solid player.”

Lemming said he sees Martini as a nice complement to the strong linebacker class Notre Dame will bring in next season headed by five-star recruit Jaylon Smith. Before then, he thinks Martini’s biggest contribution to the program might be as a salesman for the Irish in his high school locker room during the next two years.

“That school is so loaded,” Lemming said. “He’s got better teammates than him for next year, too. So hopefully for Notre Dame, he can talk those guys into coming.”

Already have an account? Sign In