This past Saturday, the Notre Dame coaching staff held a very small and very elite Junior Day. It only included four prospects, so obviously these four are highly coveted by the Irish staff. The invited players consisted of a defensive end, a linebacker, a running back and a wide receiver. Each of these positions represents major needs for Notre Dame in the class of 2013. Last week Irish Sports Daily spoke to two of the young men that attended Notre Dame’s first 2012 Junior Day. What have you been missing by not being a member of Irish Sports Daily?
Ty Isaac, RB, 6-3, 215, Joliet Catholic High School, Joliet, IL is one of the most coveted prospects in the Midwest this year and one of the top running backs in the nation in the class of 2013. Last Saturday Notre Dame hosted Isaac in a very exclusive Junior Day that only included four players. This gave the talented Illinois prospect the opportunity to really get some outstanding one on one time with the Notre Dame coaching staff.
“I’m familiar with the campus, so I was really looking to see how the staff envisions using me in the offense,” Isaac related. “I watched some film with Coach (Tony) Alford, Coach (Chuck) Martin and Coach (Brian) Kelly. I got a good idea of what to expect playing for Coach Alford and Coach Martin. They showed me how I’d be used at both running back and slot receiver. I can get some extra touches playing both positions. It was nice to get some personal time with the coaches and I feel we’re building a good relationship.”
Isaac has set a high priority on the opportunity to compete for playing time early in his career though he knows that it will have to be earned.
“I know you can’t just show up and start from the time you’re a freshman,” said Isaac. “If a coach tells you that you’ll start from the beginning, he’s probably not being honest with you. If I chose Notre Dame, I’d have the opportunity to come in and compete right away. That’s something that’s really important to me.”
Isaac already has a high level of comfort with the Irish staff but he especially enjoyed his time with Brian Kelly.
“It was great for him to take the time to be there and let me know how much I’m wanted at Notre Dame,” Isaac noted. “They told me they’d take one running back in this class and they’d really like me to be the guy. I was told there isn’t any pressure to commit early and they think I should take my visits to make sure I’m comfortable with my decision.”
Isaac’s Junior Day experience has left him wanting more of Notre Dame. He has already made plans to return though he isn’t exactly sure when.
“I got a lot from this visit, I’m hoping I can get back there this spring,” Isaac explained. “I might make it back for the spring game.”
Isaac has a number of other schools that he plans to visit this spring and after that he hopes to trim his list of potential destinations down. He already knows two schools that are likely to be there until the end.
“I’m not close to making a decision, but I’d like to cut my list to a top three or top five after some more visits,” he informed. “Notre Dame and Michigan are two schools I’m comfortable with and they’ll definitely make my cut.”
Isaac doesn’t have a timeline for a decision but figures that will begin to emerge after he finishes with his visits this spring.
Jacob Matuska, DE, 6-5, 240, Bishop Hartley High School, Columbus, OH also attended Notre Dame’s first Junior Day. Many Irish fans hoped that Matuska might make his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on this visit but he didn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that his visit didn’t go well or that he’s far from a decision.
“It went great,” Matuska’s father Jim related. “It was a really good day. We got an opportunity to spend a lot of time with the coaches and staff and see the academics. There was much more of an opportunity to talk to the coaches and get a feel for who they are; their personalities as well as what their thoughts were. It was great. It was a small group and we had a lot of time to get questions answered.”
While Matuska met with all the coaches, his time spent with Coach Mike Elston provided the most answers for the talented Ohioan.
“He was just filling us in on who he was, a little bit about him and his history and experiences,” said the elder Matuska. “Then we talked about the position and what their thoughts were on how Jacob might fit in. We got a chance to see some videotape and see how they would use Jacob. It was really good. We had a good conversation with Coach. He was very honest with us and we know what Notre Dame thinks of Jacob and what he thinks of Jacob and where he might fit in.”
Many schools are looking at Matuska as a tight end but Notre Dame made it clear that they see him on the other side of the ball.
“Coach talked about ‘could he play tight end? yes’ but they see his best position for Notre Dame at defensive end,” Jim Matuska said. “Notre Dame has a need and they’re looking for a position. That’s where they see him. We appreciate that, we respect that and we’re honored and happy that they would think about him and consider him for that position.”
Before Matuska makes a decision to commit to anyone, he and his family want to sit down and talk about everything.
“We’ll get a chance to talk about it and put it all in perspective,” said Matuska’s father. “It’s a very big decision; obviously that’s an understatement. We don’t have a timetable, but I think we have what we need at this point. I would think it would be sooner than later if he can be confident of his decision. That could come very soon.”
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Sports Daily.