Justin Brent still hasn’t had the chance to return to South Bend since the 2014 Indianapolis receiver committed to the Irish during the summer.
“It was ridiculous,” Brent laughed.
Brent had to cancel one trip to South Bend when the Irish cancelled their last Saturday practice before they went to Ireland. Brent then had a couple of his own games moved from Friday to Saturday because of weather, preventing him from making it to Notre Dame Stadium those days.
“I was so upset,” Brent said, still with a chuckle. “But I think about like, ‘If I wasn’t playing for the team I’m playing for now, I wouldn’t be going to Notre Dame.’ Even Notre Dame has told me my team comes first and I’ll be at Notre Dame soon enough.”
And right now, Brent’s Speedway High School squad needs him more than ever. After a 21-6 win over North Putnam in the first round of the playoffs, the Sparkplugs are set to meet undefeated Cardinal Ritter on Friday night.
“I’m just getting ready for a busy week,” the 6-foot-3, 193-pounder said. “We play the number one team in the state in 2A in the second round of sectionals, so it’s a busy, busy week.
“They’re just a good team. They have a good quarterback and they play really well together. They’re even ranked over Jaylon Smith and (Bishop Luers).”
Speedway scored 29 points against Cardinal Ritter last season, but blew a late lead and lost 32-29.
“We feel like we can get them, but have to play our best to do it,” said Brent. “If you can get excited for anything, you have to get excited for the chance to beat a team that knocked you off last year.”
Coming into the season, Brent was ready to be used as a decoy, especially with an increased level of exposure following his commitment to the Irish, but he has been anything but. In 10 games, Brent has pulled down 50 passes for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“It’s definitely my quarterback and the coaches,” said Brent, who still appreciates it when he can open up things for his teammates.
“They want to get me the ball and they’re going to do a whole bunch of scheming to get me the ball, so you can’t do anything but thank them. It’s just amazing and I’m thankful that I have a quarterback and coaches that will do that for me.”
Brent may not have made it to South Bend for a game yet, but he’s been paying attention.
“Definitely,” he said. “I watch the games. I don’t really say or tweet too much, but I do watch the games. It’s amazing.”
He’s got high hopes for the rest of the season.
“I feel like they’re coming for the BCS,” said Brent. “There are a lot of big teams, but they’re right there. I know they have a tough game against Oklahoma coming up. I saw some stuff by Skip Bayless saying that Notre Dame might be in some trouble, but I feel like they’ve proved people wrong all year and this is another game to prove people wrong again.
“I see a lot of Notre Dame stuff around here and it always feels good when you see it. Then there’s a lot of people who give you crap; kids who like Alabama or Florida. But when your team is right there, I can say what I want to say because we won.”