Justin Brent committed to Notre Dame over a year ago, so he was already an Irish pledge every time he visited South Bend last season, but he found out some things are a bit different as a senior commit when he was at Notre Dame’s season-opener against Temple this past weekend.
“Everybody knows who you are,” the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder from Speedway High School said. “I was at The Walk and everybody was taking pictures of me, everybody knows my name. It was different, but it was a lot of fun at the same time. There’s a little more eyes on you.
“It’s fun. I like that. I’m kind of used to it because it’s kind of that way over here a little bit, but for it to be that way up there is kind of cool. It’s just more people who know who you are instead of a few.”
Brent was the only major prospect in attendance on Saturday and enjoyed himself as he has each time he’s visited.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I got to stay there, be with the guys for a long time, got to go in the locker room and everything. It was an awesome time. I love being up there.”
Upon arrival, Brent spent time with Irish recruiting coordinator Tony Alford.
“We sat down and talked a lot as we watched College Gameday in the auditorium,” he said. “In the leadup to the game, you see all of the coaches. Everybody comes up to you and talks to you to see how everything is going. It was fun.”
The conversations with the coaching staff are no longer about recruiting.
“We were just checking in with each other,” he said. “It’s nothing about anything anymore. It’s just about life and what’s going on. It’s just like building relationships. Usually when you first meet a coach, there are nerves, but now it’s just calm and cool and you talk about whatever comes up.”
It's that way even with Brian Kelly, according to Brent.
“You’re not really intimidated,” he said. “It’s just, ‘How are you doing man? Long time no see. I’m glad you made it. How are things going?’ and stuff like that.”
After the game, Brent got to go in the locker room, where the team was celebrating Kelly’s 200th career win and wide receiver TJ Jones’ first career 100-yard game. Brent made sure to see freshman wide receiver James Onwualu, who saw his first collegiate action.
“When I got in the locker room, I went straight over there and talked with him and spent time with him,” Brent said of Onwualu. “They were kind of upset that I wasn’t spending the night. I live three hours away, so there’s no reason to. I promised them I will sooner or later, but I never have yet.”
An early enrollee candidate, Brent got some of those details ironed out during the visit.
“I met with the admissions to get me ready to get in there early,” he said. “They said I need to send my grades in and it’s all good. That was good to hear.”
Brent is excited to see the Irish’s second game this Saturday night at Michigan.
“I’ll definitely be watching it,” he said. “I wish it was at home, but I’ll be watching it on the big screen.”
But before the Irish take the field, Brent is excited to get back out there with his Speedway teammates against Beech Grove on Friday night. The Sparkplugs are eager to wash out the taste of a 38-0 loss to Scecina last week.
“We want to get a win and get things back rolling,” Brent said. “I was talking to Coach Alford and he was just like, ‘Lead those guys. Get them moving and get them ready to go.’
“You just don’t want to lose. We shouldn’t lose. We’re also young and we have a lot of guys at new positions. We’ve just got to bounce back.”