Steve Elmer’s commitment to Notre Dame didn’t take place in Ann Arbor, but it might as well have.
The 6-foot-6, 297-pounder was at Michigan Stadium for the Wolverines’ thrilling victory over Notre Dame earlier this month as a Michigan recruit, but found himself rooting for the Irish.
“I left the stadium and I was upset about the game,” the Midland, Mich., native said. “I should have been pretty excited, I should have been jacked. The whole place was just rocking and I wanted no part of that. I was upset about that. I was mad that Notre Dame lost.
“That’s when it hit me, ‘If you can’t be happy about something like that in that environment then I don’t know how you can root against them at all.’”
With Signing Day for the 2012 class still almost five months away, Elmer kicked off the Irish’s 2013 recruiting haul off by offering his verbal commitment prior to the Irish’s game against Michigan State on Saturday. The highly-touted junior chose Notre Dame over other early offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Syracuse and Wisconsin.
Elmer said the Ann Arbor experience was the final straw, but he came to his decision only after some serious thought.
“Everything there is perfect for me,” said Elmer, who committed to Notre Dame on his fourth visit to South Bend this year. “I really love the campus, it’s perfect for me. I love the coaches there. I think they’re one of the finest coaching staffs in the nation and you have to be able to believe in your coaches and I definitely believe in those guys. They’re going to win a lot of ballgames.
“I love the football program; I love the tradition, the academics. It’s a Catholic school and that’s big for us too, we’re Catholic. There’s not really anything that is bad about Notre Dame. I really loved every aspect of it.”
Elmer is excited about getting the decision behind him at such an early stage.
“It’s definitely a load off my mind knowing I made a great decision and I don’t have to think about it as much,” he said. “I’m not teetering back and forth between all of these schools. I know for sure now. I have no doubts in my mind and I’m feeling good about what I chose and where I’m going to be in a couple of years here.”
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was pretty fired up too.
“He was excited,” Elmer said of Kelly. “He was probably as excited as I was, so that was good to see.”
Notre Dame offered Elmer a scholarship back in June and not only was it obvious the Irish would have a great shot with him; he instantly became a leading candidate to be the Irish’s first commitment in the Class of 2013. But Elmer wasn’t thinking about any of that when he made his decision.
“I didn’t realize I was one of the earliest commits in Notre Dame’s history until afterward,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about that. I was just thinking about how much I love Notre Dame. I’m definitely going to be helping out whatever way I can in building this class, I guess as the cornerstone of the 2013 class. I’m excited to talk to prospects and recruits at these games and it’s going to be a good time.”
And Elmer plans on being at a lot of Irish home games.
“Now we don’t have any other games in the way, so we’re going to try to make it down often,” he said. “I know for sure I’m going to the USC game. I’m probably going to be there for the Navy game and we’re planning on the Air Force game. I think the only other home game after that is Boston College and I’m probably going to go to that one too.”