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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Family Will Miss Him, But Jay Brunelle Ready To Write Next Chapter

January 9, 2020

Sending your kid off to college is a monumental moment for a parent and several sets of parents will do so a little earlier than most as eight Irish Football signees from the Class of 2020 will move into Notre Dame this weekend to enroll for the spring semester, which starts Monday.

“It definitely comes with mixed emotions,” said David Brunelle, the father of incoming Notre Dame wide receiver Jay Brunelle‍. “The difficult part lies more with recognizing he won’t be home much over the next four years.

“It’s not like we can look forward to spending the summer with him. He won’t be here. So, that’s the super-hard part. I would say I’m still trying to get my arms around that.

But the Massachusetts wideout starting college now rather than over the summer hasn’t made it much more difficult on his parents.

“He needs to go now,” Mr. Brunelle said. “He’s emotionally ready and being here for another six months would be really difficult for him. Just the anticipation and curiosity of what it will all be like, I think it would just eat at him. Emotionally, he just needs to go and begin his journey rather than being here contemplating it. 

“It’s been quite a while since we have known he is leaving early. I think we have emotionally prepared for that as much as you can. It will be an adjustment and I’m sure there will some additional tears. It’s just an emotional time for any parent. But I’ll say this, knowing he is at Notre Dame, with those type of people, in that community, it makes it so much easier knowing that there will be that support system there for him.”

Mr. Brunelle added, “it just feels right,” which gives both him and Jay confidence.

“He’s always been pretty pragmatic about things,” Mr. Brunelle said of his son. “I wouldn’t call him the most emotional kid in the world when it comes to situations like this. He’s pretty much like, ‘If it’s good for me and my future, then I’m all in.”

“Like I said, I think it would be far more difficult for him to ponder the unknown for six months than to jump in and deal with his new reality.”

Jay Brunelle has come a long way since playing flag football for his father as a kid.

Brunelle’s recruitment exploded during the first part of 2019. Over a six-month span, the Massachusetts prep prospect went from being chased by local schools and Ivy League programs to being in the middle of a tug-of-war between Notre Dame and Michigan.

“I can honestly say, I’m not sure it has really set in yet,” Mr. Brunelle said. “It’s just an amazing accomplishment and we couldn’t be more proud of him.

“Aside from how hard he has worked, I can honestly say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. He’s always smiling and just so kind to everyone. He’ll never speak badly about anyone. I think he’ll be admired for that throughout the Notre Dame campus, not just among the football program.”

You wouldn’t guess that was his personality just from watching him on the field, though.

“The dichotomy with that is he is quietly the most competitive person you’ll ever meet,” His father said. “He has just found a way to constantly push himself to improve but not necessarily at anyone’s expense, except between the lines I guess as they say, ‘He’s definitely not trying to make friends out there.’” 

David Brunelle played defensive line at Colgate during his college days, so he has some understanding of the journey his son is about to embark on.

“My biggest advice to him is just to never lose his belief in himself,” he said. “He is going to face adversity and a level of competition that he has never seen before. He is going to be challenged in every aspect of his life.

“He has always had a really special, quiet confidence in himself. That confidence is his biggest asset. As long as he can learn and grow from adversity rather than it breaking down his self-confidence, I think he’s going to accomplish more at Notre Dame than anyone could have imagined.”

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