Flying out to Notre Dame last Saturday morning for his official visit, Hayes Pullard and his mother thought they were going to be landing in a laid-back environment.
They quickly found out they were mistaken.
The touted linebacker recruit from Crenshaw High (Los Angeles, Calif.), and his mom arrived in South Bend just in time for Notre Dame's pre-game festivities, and it was an atmosphere that the two had never seen before.
“I thought everyone would be calm,” Pullard said. “When I got out there, everything was intense, everyone was yelling, it was crazy.”
That’s how Pullard felt about the whole trip.
“I had a real good time,” Pullard began. He watched the Irish defeat Washington 37-30 in a thrilling overtime game. “They took care of me. It was a great experience to be able to leave the state and look at something new. It was a great environment, and seeing how intense the fans were about the football team, it was crazy.”
Pullard is still considering seven schools. Last weekend’s trip was his first official visit. He has one set up with Arizona State for their game against California on Oct. 31st. Pullard is also looking to take trips to Nebraska and Washington, and says he doesn’t need to take official visits to the two local programs USC and UCLA. The only other school he’s talking to is Florida, and he’s hoping to find out this week if the Gators are going to offer.
Notre Dame has set the bar high for the rest of Pullard’s visits.
“I loved the fans,” he stated. “The fans treated me like I was one of their own kids. They put all their life into football and I loved that. The game was hype at all times. The atmosphere was outrageous, just intense from the whole crowd. I didn’t see the crowd sit down the whole game. They hardly sat down during timeouts. That turned me on.”
So did the scenery.
“I loved the campus. Nice and big. Low number of students, so I’ll be able to go to a class with an average of 27 students and get a good education.”
This fall, Pullard has helped lead Crenshaw to a 5-0 record. Playing both middle and outside linebacker, he has 48 tackles, with seven stops coming for loss. On offense, he’s rushed for 320 yards, has 62 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
While in South Bend, Pullard was told Notre Dame is recruiting him as a middle linebacker, that could also get a couple snaps a game at fullback. He spent a lot of time with the Irish coaching staff including defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta.
“He’s a real good coach,” Pullard said. “I really do like him. He told me they love to blitz, and I really love to blitz, so that attracted me.”
Pullard was hosted by his friend from home, Irish freshman receiver Shaquelle Evans. He also hung out with a lot of guys on the team including Jimmy Clausen and Michael Floyd.
“They showed me a real good time.”
Pullard and Evans used to hang out quite a bit, and he was excited to see Evans playing a lot, and helping the team win. Having a good friend from home suiting up for the Irish is also a huge plus as far as Pullard is concerned.
“Being with him and talking to him, hearing that he’s taken care of and that it’s real good at Notre Dame, it makes me think it might be a good thing for me.”
Pullard knows he has a lot to think about before he makes his college decision, and says every school is running even until he can take visits to all of his finalists and compare. He has a 3.05 GPA, and wants to major in business management or sports medicine.
“I’m looking for a place where my mom can trust me being there, and not be worried about me,” Pullard explained. “A place she’ll know I’m being taken care of and well watched during school. Also somewhere I know there is going to be good coaching, and they’re always staying on me and stuff like that.”
Notre Dame quickly passed the mom test.
“She even told coach (Brian) Polian that,” Pullard laughed. “She can see me there, and let me be able to go out there and go to school. She loved it. She was real happy about the trip.”
Before leaving, Pullard got some one-on-one time with Irish head coach Charlie Weis.
“He was just saying that they really want me to be there. He wasn’t in a rush to make me commit or something. He told me they really want me, and I told him straight forward that they are one of the top schools for me, but I want to see what the other schools have to offer and then I’ll make my decision.”
Monday, Dec 09th
Last update:09:06:29 AM GMT