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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame Official Visit Confirms Decision for 2022 TE Holden Staes

June 20, 2021

2022 Westminster (Ga.) tight end Holden Staes‍ got his first look at Notre Dame earlier this spring as he walked around campus on his own before he committed to the Irish on May 8th. 

The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder returned this weekend for his official visit and got to learn the ins and outs of his future home. 

"The visit was awesome," Staes told ISD. "It was a super busy two days. There wasn't that much downtime and a lot of movement. I got to learn more about the school and program. I got to connect with the commits, the recruits we're trying to get and the players in the evening. It was really fun." 

The four-star prospect got to meet with tight ends coach John McNulty and Staes saw the same guy in person that he had virtually over the last few months. 

"Coach McNulty was great," stated Staes. "He's the same guy over Zoom that you see in person. He's super even keel, but when he gets to talking about football, he gets really excited. 

"He's definitely a great guy. He picked us up from the airport. I was with him all day on Friday." 

Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees also connected with Staes and his ability to relate to his future players shined.

"I got to connect with Coach Rees and he's super relatable being so young," said Staes. "We were joking the whole weekend. All the rest of the coaches were great to talk to as well." 

Staes and fellow 2022 tight end commit Eli Raridon were able to meet with McNulty to over film and the plan for them once they arrive in South Bend.  

"We had already seen a lot of the stuff that they showed us throughout the recruiting process, so we really watched stuff from the spring," explained Staes. "We were looking at some of the new stuff they're thinking about putting in and where they see us playing." 

The two tight ends had joked in the past about who committed first, as Staes silently committed before Raridon went public in May. 

Staes felt an immediate bond face-to-face as the duo did just about everything together this weekend.

"It was cool to meet him," Staes said. "We had talked a good bit before we got up there. Hanging out with him was awesome and we took some pictures together. We were with each other both nights hanging out with the players, Steve (Angeli) and the other commits. We were talking with the other recruits on the visit trying to get them to join the class." 

Staes said the message from the commits to the uncommitted prospects was simple. 

"We told them to look at where the program is going and what other schools is going to give this level of academics and then be able to compete for a National Championship," Staes said. "Hopefully, they can see that. 

"When we were hanging out with the players each night, hopefully, they got to see themselves fitting into the player culture because that's what me, Steve, Eli and Donovan (Hinish) felt when we committed. Notre Dame speaks for itself. If you like it, you like it." 

Perhaps the thing that surprised Staes the most was the presentation by Dr. Amber Selking on how she helps each player with their mental health and mental preparation. 

"One big thing we did on Saturday was listen to Dr. Selking, who leads the mental health aspect of the program," Staes explained. "She works with the program every day. 

"She met with all the players and families for 40 minutes. She told us about her role in the program and what she does to make sure each player is playing in a good headspace. That was a huge takeaway." 

The Georgia native was also impressed with how Director of Football Performance Matt Balis runs his portion of the program. 

"Talking to Coach Balis and his philosophies and program is insane," stated Staes. "We got to watch some of the players work out and demonstrate some of the stuff he emphasizes in the weight room." 

Staes was already firm in his commitment, but the weekend in South Bend only confirmed he made the right decision.

"Coming in, I already felt extremely comfortable with the football and academic piece," said Staes. "The biggest confirmation for me was getting around the current players and knowing those were guys I'd like to hang out with and could see myself playing with." 

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