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Weis choices?

INDIANAPOLIS -- Charlie Weis brought a lot to the Notre Dame football program in his first season as head coach in 2005. The former Patriots offensive coordinator brought four Super Bowl rings, including three from his recent run of success guiding Tom Brady and Co. for the Patriots. As such he brought instant excitement and renewed credibility to the somewhat downtrodden program.

And for his offensive players he brought the opportunity to play in a pro style offense, nearly identical to the one he'd used to win three Super Bowls in New England. It's an opportunity wide receiver Maurice Stovall (6-4, 217), tight end Anthony Fasano (6-4, 259) and guard Dan Stevenson (6-5, 295), Notre Dame's three representatives at the 2006 Scouting Combine, could benefit from in the coming months leading up to draft weekend.

In fact, Weis' former team has already shown some interest in one of the star wide receivers from his current team.

"I interviewed with them [Friday]," Stovall said of meeting with the Patriots at the Combine. "It went very well. We talked about a lot of things. And they showed some interest.''

Whether that interest is directly related to the team's ties to Weis or not, Stovall definitely believes he benefited from his time with New England's former offensive mastermind. Stovall started all 12 games as a senior at Notre Dame finishing with 69 catches for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns as part of the Irish's high-powered offense. Stovall is projected to be a late first or early second-round pick, maybe even at 21 to the Patriots, thanks at least in part to working with Weis for his final collegiate season.

"As an individual player, I think just basically it helped put me in position to make plays and showcase my talents and abilities," Stovall said. "Learning his new system, for one. And the type of offense that he had, I had the opportunity to make plays, also.

"As a wide receiver I was coached to be an aggressive wide receiver. By that, I mean in my release with defensive backs and also my blocking and making plays downfield and attacking the ball, also.''

Put it all together and Stovall feels he could be a good fit for the Patriots, a team that does have serious depth concerns at wide receiver heading into free agency and the draft.

"Definitely, because I think of the type of offense that I was in with Coach Weis basically it's what the whole entire New England Patriots offense is now," Stovall said. "Their whole system and their practice schedule, also. I probably would be more comfortable with the Patriots than any other team as far as me knowing their offense completely because Coach Weis brought that offense down [to Notre Dame]. I'm very familiar with their terms and their schemes."

Like Stovall, Fasano is also extremely thankful for the year spent under Weis' tutelage. Weis has described Fasano, who caught 47 passes for 576 yards for two scores last fall during his junior season, as a tight end who "can do it all." That package has Fasano projected as a second-round pick in what could be a very strong tight end class.

"I couldn't come from a better college system," said Fasano, who will not run at the Combine due to a minor hamstring injury suffered in training. "Coach Weis brought a very pro-style offense and approach to the game. The transition into that last year helped me and I think it's going to continue to help me in the transition to the next level."

The time with Weis is something Fasano believes will easily benefit the three Notre Dame offensive players at the combine and in the next stop in their football careers.

But the learning didn't end for Weis' NFL hopefuls when the season concluded. Fasano said the former pro coach aided his players in specific preparation for the combine, including Stevenson who started 34 straight games to close out his career in South Bend and is projected as a late-round pick.

"He coaches me, Maurice and Dan Stevenson - the other Notre Dame guys that are here - just in what to expect," Fasano said. "Expect to hurry up and wait, and things like that [and] just how to carry yourself. I don't think he had to tell us much because all three of us are going to handle ourselves well. But he's definitely been an influence and definitely helped all three of us."

With Bill Belichick and the Patriots often relying on trusted evaluations from college coaches with ties to New England's staff and the evaluations of players in systems that are similar to their own, Weis even just help one of his three offensive pupils right into a job at Gillette Stadium. Even if they don't end up in New England, the three players enjoyed the luck of the Irish in playing for Weis and hope to parlay that into solid careers somewhere in the NFL.

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