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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2024 LB Payton Pierce Enjoys "Unbelievable" Notre Dame Return

January 15, 2023

After two impressive trips to Notre Dame in 2022, Payton Pierce‍ called Saturday’s return to South Bend “unbelievable.”

“It’s definitely one of the best visits I’ve had,” the 2024 Texas linebacker told Irish Sports Daily.

After taking a visit and receiving an offer from the Irish last summer, Pierce was back on campus for the Stanford game in October.

“The first time we were there, Coach (Al) Golden had just got there and they hadn’t had a season or time to settle down,” the Lovejoy High School standout said. “We didn’t really get to see much of the football stuff.

The second time was a the chance to see the gameday environment at Notre Dame and while the Irish lost, he was impressed with the way the defense played.

But Saturday’s Junior Day offered a true opportunity to learn and get a feel for the school and the program with the Class of 2024 now at the forefront.

“I really got to see how important I am to this class and how much they value me as a recruit,” Pierce said.

“From literally the first second we got there, it was awesome with Chad doing the Men In Black stuff, the agent stuff or whatever that was.

“One of my favorite things about Notre Dame is the coaching staff and Coach (James) Laurinaitis. He’s been really great. I can really see myself playing for him. He’s a super positive guy. He sat us down and we talked for a little bit and went over some football stuff. After lunch, we came back to do more of it. That’s what we wanted to do, talk ball. I sat down with him for 45 minutes and we went over a bunch of different football stuff. I think he’s a really good teacher and I feel like I connect with him really well and could really see myself playing for him.”

The other visitors also gave Pierce a peek at the kind of people Notre Dame attracts.

“Some of the recruits they had there were just really good guys,” he said. “A lot of times I go to schools and the recruits are not very personable and don’t talk a lot and aren’t really guys I want to play with. But these guys seem legit, especially the commits. They seem like a good group of guys.

“I talked to CJ Carr for a little bit, he was good. He was real nice. I got to talk to the tight end Jack Larsen, I liked him a lot. I talked to the big offensive lineman, Peter Jones, real big dude. He was good.”

Pierce also had a chance to meet 2023 linebacker prospects Drayk Bowen and Jaiden Ausberry, who enrolled over the weekend.

“I like them a lot,” he said. “I could see myself playing with them and competing against them. They seem like some really good guys.”

Pierce also spent time with 2024 North Carolina defensive lineman Bryce Young.

“I like him a lot,” he said. “He’s real nice. Overall, there were a lot of guys that I liked there.”

Pierce is already looking toward Visit #4.

“I think I’m going to head up for spring practice,” he said. “I want to watch practice and see how that goes.

“It’s getting toward the point where I want to start making a lot of decisions, cutting teams out and Notre Dame is one of those teams that I’m really highly considering and looking at. We’ll be up to watch a practice for spring ball. I want to see how they practice and compete. That’s the next step and after that, official visits and then I’ll make my decision.”

Pierce isn’t sure when he’ll take his officials.

“We’ll get to that when it happens,” he said. “I have no idea.”

He has visits scheduled to Texas and Texas A&M next weekend and Oklahoma and TCU the week after that.

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