The Notre Dame spring game represents one of the Irish’s biggest recruiting opportunities and the coaching staff took full advantage of it. While no commitments came out of the game, the coaches, players and university made a huge impression on those in attendance.
Last week, Irish Sports Daily reported on two of the Blue-Gold game attendees, one that was very familiar with Notre Dame and one that was getting the opportunity to see it for the first time. Both spoke glowingly of their experience. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?
Justin Hilliard, LB, 6-2, 225 St. Xavier High School, Cincinnati, OH somewhat surprisingly visited South Bend for the Blue-Gold game. It was surprising only because Hilliard has already visited Notre Dame five times previously. While Hilliard (pictured) didn’t commit to the Irish, the fact that he returned yet again, has to be considered a good sign. The nation’s fifth ranked outside linebacker wanted the opportunity to get better acquainted with the Irish’s new defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder.
“I wanted to talk to Coach VanGorder a bit more and just enjoy the day,” Hilliard recounted. “I had a chance to speak to Coach VanGorder for about twenty minutes and then he had to get ready for the game. It was great getting to meet with him again and everything went well.”
Hilliard wants to check out other schools before he considers a commitment.
“I have some other visits I’m still going to take and after I do that I’ll be ready to narrow my list down again,” he explained. “I want to make sure I learn all I can about my favorite schools; that way I’ll know when I’m comfortable to make my final decision.”
Hilliard earlier announced a top 10 of Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC. Since he’s still in the process of evaluating his options, he’s not ready to name a leader. At this point, though, it seems as if Notre Dame will remain a player in his recruitment until the end.
“I have a great relationship with the coaches at Notre Dame and I like everything about the university,” he shared. “Notre Dame’s always been a school that’s had my attention and it’s a place that I’ve always liked.”
While Hilliard was quite familiar with the Irish, for Alex Ofodile, WR, 6-3, 185, Columbia Rock Bridge High School, Columbia MO his trip to South Bend for the Blue-Gold game represented his first time experiencing Notre Dame. He wasn’t disappointed.
“It went really well,” he said. “I was impressed by a lot of things and got to learn a lot more about the school.”
Ofodile learned quite a bit about the tradition-rich atmosphere of Notre Dame.
“When we were taking the campus tour, they had a lot of stuff like the Main Building and Touchdown Jesus, just learning about the tradition,” he said. “I got to sit down and learn more about the academic side of the school too.”
Ofodile was obviously impressed by Notre Dame’s academics.
“I think the graduation rates for minority football players is something like one hundred percent,” he said.
The talented Missouri receiver currently holds offers from Notre Dame, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee and Clemson among others. Obviously, the Irish have some stiff competition, but they appeared to have made an impact during his unofficial visit.
“They were really down to earth,” he said of the Irish coaches. “They just kept really straight with me. They didn’t really pump up my head or anything. They just told me how it really was and what it would be like to go to school there. I definitely like that approach the best. I think I can trust that more than anything else for sure.”
Notre Dame’s offense during the Blue-Gold game made a positive impact upon the four-star receiver.
“It was definitely impressive,” he opined. “Their receivers played really well and made a lot of plays downfield, so it was really fun to watch.”
Ofodile does have at least one connection on Notre Dame’s current roster. 2014 recruit, Jonathan Bonner and he played Little League baseball together.
“He (Bonner) was just saying that he has family that went to Notre Dame and with the tradition of it, there’s no way you could turn it down,” Ofodile remembered. “He was just explaining some of that stuff to me.”
Ofodile hopes to make a decision before the end of May, and plans to take several other visits, including one next weekend to Alabama. He intends to take other trips as well but doesn’t yet have those finalized. He was clear, though, that the Irish would be under consideration.
“They’re definitely in the mix,” he said. “I’m definitely going to keep in touch with them and go from there.”
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Sports Daily.