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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

For Mike Elston, Staying At Notre Dame Was Truly Family Decision

December 19, 2021

There’s a reason prospects often point out “honesty” when they see it during the recruiting process.

The very nature of the process often incentivizes those on both sides to be...well...less than honest and those incentives are likely to grow exponentially in the NIL era unless the NCAA enacts some tighter regulations.

As a program, Notre Dame has developed a reputation for being honest with recruits over the past several years, often to a fault.

The Irish have been willing to lose – and have lost – players because they didn’t feel comfortable simply telling a prospect what they knew he wanted to hear.

Honesty certainly has its advantages – 2022 QB signee Steve Angeli is going to arrive at Notre Dame next month with an enormous amount of trust in Tommy Rees based on his truthfulness throughout the process.

But that’s the long-term play while staffs across the country are often presented shortcuts too great to ignore.

That’s why Mike Elston’s answer to one question seemed so out of place on National Signing Day.

In a good way.

It wasn’t just genuinely honest. It was honestly genuine.

You could feel it when the longtime Irish assistant and current recruiting coordinator was asked why he chose to stay at Notre Dame rather than follow former head coach Brian Kelly to LSU.

This presented an easy opportunity for Elston to pivot into a stump speech about how Notre Dame is the greatest place on earth and somebody would be crazy to leave. He could have seamlessly moved into a presentation directed at recruits in the Class of 2023 and beyond.

But he didn’t.

“I've never shied away from why,” Elston said in a tone not generally heard on National Signing Day. “People think it's loyalty to certain people. At the end of the day, my family is the most important thing in my life.”

Elston then went on to provide details.

“To move a daughter who is a junior in high school right now, starting her senior year,” he started. “To move my middle daughter, Sophia, who is 14, and she's going to be starting her freshman year, who is a Top 10/Top 15 fencer in the country. A lot of places don't have fencing, and I’m pulling her away from an area she's able to flourish.

“It will always be a family decision. It's not about money. My kids want to go to Notre Dame too. So, it's a family decision. That's why I've always really kind of turned down opportunities for myself. I want my children to go off to college and when they say to their friends, 'Hey, I'm going home for the weekend,’ they have a place to go. They know where home is. And that's South Bend for them.”

Immediately after his answer, Elston wondered if it was warm in the room.

I don’t know if it was warm, but I bet it was a little misty for fathers around the country.

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