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Thursday, December 17, 2009

College football: Local ND recruits Lombard, Rees say they're still going to South Bend; Prater contacted by Kelly but sticks with USC

The coaching change at Notre Dame has not changed the minds of Tommy Rees and Christian Lombard.

Rees, a quarterback from Lake Forest High, and Lombard, a Fremd offensive lineman, have re-affirmed their oral commitments to new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

Both Rees and Lombard committed to Notre Dame long before Kelly replaced Charlie Weis on Dec. 11. Oral commitments are not binding and do not become official until recruits sign letters of intent Feb. 3.

"Nothing has changed," said the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Lombard, considered among the nation's top offensive linemen. "I wish the best to Coach Weis and look forward to building a great future with Coach Kelly."

Rees, who threw for 2,695 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, might benefit from the coaching change. The other quarterback to commit to Weis, Andrew Hendrix of Moeller High in Cincinnati, expressed disappointment in Weis' firing and has yet to affirm his plans to attend Notre Dame.

Lake Forest coach Chuck Spagnoli said Rees spoke with Kelly on Sunday.

"His intentions have not changed," Spagnoli said. "Coach Kelly is supposed to come in some time this week and see him."

According to the Rivals.com, 18 recruits remain committed to the Irish in the wake of the coaching change. Earlier this week, defensive end Chris Martin of Grandview High in Aurora, Colo., took back his commitment and announced his intention to sign with California.

Martin was Notre Dame's top-ranked recruit.

Kelly also contacted Proviso West receiver Kyle Prater over the weekend. Prater, the top-ranked receiver in the country by Rivals, announced his intention to attend USC last week for the second time.

Prater made an official visit to Notre Dame in late November while Weis was on the hot seat.

"He is going to stay strong on the commitment unless something changes," said Johnny Prater, Kyle's father.

Kelly left Cincinnati after leading the Bearcats to a 12-0 record this season and a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

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