Over the years, Notre Dame has done well in establishing a pipeline between Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic and South Bend. The Fighting Irish signed linebacker David Adams and defensive tackle Kurt Hinish back in the 2017 recruiting class. If you look beyond Central Catholic, Pittsburgh has been very good to the Fighting Irish program, but those two might not be the last to make the six hour journey across the Midwest.
Last Friday, Notre Dame dipped back into the talent-rich Pittsburgh area to extend an offer to linebacker Anthony Speca, who is the first prospect in the 2024 class to land a scholarship from the Fighting Irish. Speca, of course, hails from the same high school program that produced Adams and Hinish.
“I was caught completely off guard by it,” Speca told Irish Breakdown. “I was eating breakfast in the morning, and I got a text from my high school coach to call Coach [Mike] Elston. So, I was just so confused, super excited because it's Notre Dame. I just called him, and we had a pretty casual conversation when he left me know they were going to offer me. It was pretty awesome. That was one of the best days ever.”
As the first and only player in his class to pick up an ND offer at this point, it is clear that the 6-3, 225-pound freshman has a lot of potential, and the program wants to get in on this recruitment early.
During the 2020 season, Speca began playing quarterback for the Vikings, but he was shifted to a starting role as a linebacker after three games. From that point, Speca let his instincts and football I.Q. take over as he racked up 48 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five pass deflections, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery during the team's Covid-shortened season.
As a true freshman in high school in one of the best league's on the East Coast.
The ability to make the transition from offense to defense so seamlessly shows that Speca is a plus athlete, and that is part of what Notre Dame likes about the standout prospect. But on the other side, Speca likes quite a few aspects about the Fighting Irish program as well, so there is mutual interest here.
“From what I've heard, it's kind of like a bigger Central Catholic, and I love Central Catholic,” Speca said. “I've heard at Notre Dame they really push you and they work real hard over there and it's like a brotherhood, so everyone is really together. I love that, I like that a lot-- and they win.”
From a recruiting perspective, Speca was taking a casual approach and letting opportunities come to him before his profile gained traction in early April. At that time, Speca had yet to receive his first Division 1 offer, but his hometown Pittsburgh Panthers changed that on April 7.
“Getting that offer was awesome, especially because I honestly had no idea how my recruiting was going,” Speca added. “To get that offer, it was special for me.”
Right now, Speca is in the middle of the offseason before his sophomore campaign starts. Once the dead period ends, the versatile prospect is looking to make stops at Notre Dame and Pitt to check out their respective campuses, but that is about as far as he's gotten with planning visits.
When Speca does make the trip to South Bend, do not be surprised if Donovan Hinish makes the visit as well. Donovan Hinish is the younger brother of Kurt, and he's a class of 2022 prospect from Pittsburgh Central Catholic, so there are numerous connections between that high school program and Notre Dame already.
Could Speca create another connection down the line? Stay current with Irish Breakdown to find out.
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