In 1969, Major League Baseball lowered the mound in order to create more offense. The NBA has the 24-second clock to keep the game moving and both college and professional football have enacted numerous rules to protect offensive players, thus promoting more scoring. Apparently, the powers that run major sports are convinced that offense sells.
Based on that premise, Notre Dame’s 14-10 victory over USC would be considered lackluster, a boring game. However, for those that really understand the game of football it was anything but. The Irish defense played with a fire and passion against USC that had largely been missing thus far in 2013. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
First and foremost, the injury to starting Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees put the defense on the spot and the victory was only secured by an outstanding effort. Secondly, this game was Notre Dame’s largest recruiting weekend of the year. A game day atmosphere at Notre Dame is always special but a night time atmosphere against USC in a game as nail-biting as the Irish victory was produced an absolutely mind-numbing thrill ride that few recruits will ever forget.
Last week Irish Sports Daily spoke to a number of recruits about their experiences as well as reported on the latest 2014 verbal commitment. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?
Nick Watkins, CB, 6-0, 180, and Payton Hendrix, S, 6-3, 190, Bishop Dunne High School, Dallas, TX took their official visits to Notre Dame for the USC game and both came away extremely impressed by the experience.
“It was a really great visit and the environment was incredible,” Watkins said. “It was a terrific game to watch and you can tell that the Notre Dame fans really love their team.”
Hendrix concurred with his teammate.
“It was definitely a good visit and I really enjoyed myself. Coming in I had high expectations and Notre Dame met them all. The fans were really loud and I really like how they supported the team. I liked everything about this visit and I’m looking forward to continue building that relationship with them.”
For Watkins this was his second trip to South Bend. On his first visit he began to develop some very close relationships with both coaches and players. This time he wanted to introduce his friend and teammate Hendrix to the environment.
“We got a chance to hang out with guys like Bennett (Jackson), KeiVarae (Russell) and Torii (Hunter),” said Watkins. “We also got a chance to catch up with Coach (Kerry) Cooks, so everything we really well and it was really great to see those guys again.”
Both players (pictured) were very impressed with the defensive performance defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s squad put forth.
“The defense looked really good tonight and they were out there doing what they needed to do to get the win,” Hendrix shared. “When they needed to make stops, they made the stops and I really like the way they get after it.”
Watkins echoed Hendrix’s sentiments.
“It was definitely a great defensive effort out there and everybody was flowing to the ball. All the guys were out there making big plays and my boy, KeiVarae had a nice hit there at the end.”
Despite the tremendous visit, neither of the Bishop Dunne stars is quite ready to commit. Watkins has made it clear that Notre Dame has been and remains very high on his list. The Irish got in on Hendrix a bit later and are just now beginning to build the kind of relationship that results in a commitment. Still, the talented Texas safety admitted that Notre Dame made quite an impression.
“I can say Notre Dame’s one of my favorites right now, but I’m still planning on taking a couple more visits after my season before I make my decision,” Hendrix explained. “Hopefully it’ll be soon after that.”
Isaiah McKenzie, WR, 5-8, 170, American Heritage High School, Plantation, FL had made it clear that he intended to commit to Notre Dame for quite some time now. For McKenzie, the wait came to an end last week.
“It’s true. I did commit to Notre Dame,” McKenzie told ISD’s Brian Town. “Coach (Tony) Alford knew I was going to commit tonight, so I did it. We were just waiting on a test score and that’s all we really needed for me to commit. Everything else was just fine, but we needed that score.”
McKenzie chose the Irish over offers from Kentucky, Rutgers, Cincinnati and West Virginia. Originally, he planned to take additional visits before pulling the trigger, but he knew where his heart was and saw no reason to wait any longer.
“I really planned on making my decision sometime in December after taking a few more visits, but that all changed because I felt it was time for me to get the process over with and go where my heart is,” he explained. “I wasn’t rushing to make a decision, but honestly my heart’s with Notre Dame.”
McKenzie commented on what it was about Notre Dame that drew him to the Irish.
“The whole Notre Dame program’s like family and the coaches are really great,” he opined. “This is just a great opportunity for me to get a tremendous education and play football at the same time, so I feel like I need to take advantage of this opportunity.”
McKenzie plans to take his official visit to Notre Dame on November 2nd for the Navy game.
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Sports Daily.