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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Sunday Reflections | Inside Notre Dame's Recruiting Weekend

January 30, 2022

Notre Dame held its first big recruiting weekend of 2022 on Saturday and after talking to sources, it had a different feel starting from the top of The Gug. 

It's no secret Notre Dame has always had a family feel around campus, but Marcus Freeman and his staff took it to an "intimate" level on Saturday. Sure, it was a smaller group, which allowed the staff more time with each prospect and their family, but the little things stuck out to one source. 

Notre Dame's entire coaching staff was present the whole day. The recruits went to eat at Eddy St. and all the coaches went. At the hockey game, all the coaches and even some of the families of the staff joined the recruits - and they stayed through the third period. 

One source stated they felt they could let their son go to Notre Dame and know he would leave a better man because the coaches are great men and great fathers. 

Another observation made by a source was the Notre Dame staff seemed to lead in a different style.

"You can lead by fear or lead by love," said the source. "These kids love this staff. Watching Chansi Stuckey with Pat (Clacks) - they were just jiving. You know Coach Stuckey is a good man because he was with Dabo. Notre Dame is a great place, but the people make it." 

Recruits did the regular positional meetings, but Notre Dame had their high school film pulled up to compare it to plays made by current Irish players. Freeman made himself available and had meaningful conversations with each prospect as well. 

On Saturday, Notre Dame had a theme of Men in Black from the coaching and personnel staff led by Chad Bowden. 

When prospects arrived on campus, the staff was waiting outside in 10-degree weather to surround the car and check-in the driver (parent) like it was a VIP event. The staff would then ask for the passenger window to be rolled down and a celebration of the recruit would ensue. 

Notre Dame also put the names of recruits on the headrest of the chairs inside the team meeting room inside The Gug as a nice touch. 

The setting also led to the recruits being more involved with each other, including Notre Dame's commits. Drayk Bowen‍ and Brenan Vernon‍ had previously met, but they were able to spend a ton of time together on Saturday to strengthen their relationship. 

In the case of Bowen, it was his little brother's birthday. We're told each member of the staff gave Dylan birthday wishes and made him feel like he was part of the program. 

Bowden has become a popular name with recruits for his energy, but he also knows when to get serious. It was the same on Saturday as Bowden was the hype man when kids got on campus, but also made “real” conversations throughout the day and made kids “Think Big” at the right times. Notre Dame has a dynamic personality in Bowden and now he’s shining on both sides of the ball.

The new members of the Irish staff were also impressive. Freeman wanted his coaches to recruit and that's exactly what happened on Saturday. 

Despite the staff being new, they did a great job of building relationships while maybe not knowing how to sell Notre Dame. Play to your strengths, right? 

Adam Sargent has long been Notre Dame's secret weapon on the academic side of recruiting. His message is always highlighted, but this weekend, Sargent made sure to give tips on how to become better students, which included reading more. (I appreciate you reading this!)

The recruits were also able to gain true insight into Matt Balis' Strength and Conditioning program as they were able to see a workout. They also saw the "Challenge Everything" mentality Freeman has brought into the program, including seeing the coaches competing on Saturday.

I'm also told Notre Dame's Coordinator of On-Campus Recruiting, Mackenzie Zanow, absolutely crushed the day. Staff members and recruits families were blown away by her organization and preparation. 

Notre Dame has also upped their photoshoots and video. Schools across the country are taking this part of visits to crazy levels and it seems like Notre Dame made an adjustment that was well-received - including smoke. 

As of now, Notre Dame didn't come out of Saturday with a commitment, but that's not a negative thing if you break it down. 

Offensive lineman Sullivan Absher‍, defensive lineman Devan Houstan‍, and defensive back Jyaire Hill‍ made their first visits to campus. 

Offensive lineman Austin Siereveld‍ and athletes Kaden Feagin‍, Ronan Hanafin‍ and Zinter have more visits to make and offers from big programs are still rolling in. 

Cornerback Christian Gray‍ will visit LSU on March 5th. LSU cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples has a unique relationship here as he's not only Gray's former high school coach, but someone who has mentored him for years. It's not just a good relationship with a position coach and one where Gray is going to want to see what Steeples and LSU have to offer. 

As for the three commits on campus, it was good for running back Sedrick Irvin Jr.‍ to get back to campus and around Bowen and Vernon, who are firmly locked in. 

And yes, we're told Vernon looked like a monster yesterday. 

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