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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Coach Proud Of JaDon Blair's Commitment To Notre Dame

July 9, 2024

At the start of the process, Chris O’Leary wasn’t sure JaDon Blair‍ would be a serious prospect for Notre Dame. In fact, O’Leary, who was the Irish safeties coach at the time, even told Mount Tabor head coach Tiesuan Brown that he was actually in town to see somebody else.

“He just wanted to come see him,” Brown said of O’Leary. “He had watched the film and everything and he had told me, he said, 'Coach, I'm stopping by. I want to see the safety that y'all got. I'm going to see a guy in Raleigh and I just want to come by and get eyes on this kid.'”

After laying eyes on Blair, O’Leary’s tune changed completely. 

“He said, 'Coach, I'm not even going to Raleigh,’” Brown recalled O’Leary saying. “‘I'm about to go back, tell the head coach about him. I don't need to see any more.'”

O’Leary and Blair would go on to form an extremely tight bond, one so tight in fact that when O’Leary left Notre Dame for a job with the Los Angeles Chargers, Blair needed to reconsider his feeling about the Irish.

After getting to know Mike Mickens, who was promoted from cornerbacks coach to secondary coach, Blair kept Notre Dame as one of his very top schools.

Still, by the time head coach Marcus Freeman made his way out to Mount Tabor this past winter, Blair remained undecided. 

“He told JaDon, 'I don't come out and see too many guys. What's your thought process?'” Brown recalled Freeman saying. “JaDon was like, 'Well, I'm about to come out with a Top 10.' 

“Coach looked at him and said, 'Top 10? Son, I just told you I don't come just to see anybody. I'm expecting you to commit today.'”

Blair was a bit taken aback, according to Brown, but that’s when Brown knew. 

“That ruffled JaDon up right there, but I knew that day,” said Brown. “I knew that day. I said, 'That's probably where he’s going.' They showed him that day that they wanted him, that they wanted them without a doubt.”

Blair wouldn’t make his decision final for almost six months, but Brown was convinced it would be the Irish from that moment.

“I knew from that day on,” he said. “Just the head coach's swagger. The way he came in there and his personality, and he got JaDon, he had him. When he left, I told JaDon, 'JaDon, they want you.' He said, 'I know Coach. I'm just trying to slow this thing down. I'm trying to build relationships.' I said, 'Dude, that dude don't go see everybody.'”

“And how can you pass up Notre Dame? Just the history. He visited Penn State a bunch of times. I think Coach (James) Franklin's a great guy, but it was just a different aura when Notre Dame came in that building. It was just different. It was totally different.”

Brown described Blair’s decision to commit to Notre Dame on July 5th as “a big deal” for Mount Tabor.

“I'm proud of him,” the coach continued. “I think he made a good choice and I'm looking forward to coming and watching a few games.”

Brown is convinced the Irish landed a stud in the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder.

“JaDon is a physical football player,” he said. “He's long, tall, athletic, a hard worker on and off the field in the classroom. He's dependable. He's a leader. He's just got all of those intangibles, man. All of those intangibles just make him that awesome football player player. Like I told the crowd, the kid is going to play in the NFL. If he doesn't get any major injuries, I told him I expect to have some sky box tickets.”

Brown expects Blair to improve in pass coverage in college, simply because high school opponents are hesitant to even challenge him. 

“I imagine his biggest improvement is going to be getting tested vertically by those great athletes,” said Brown. “But far as coming down in the box, running alleys and stuff, that's his game. That's his strength. 

“I could see him growing. He's a real mature kid. You wouldn't even know he's just turning 17. You would think he's turning 19. He talks well. He carries himself as a gentleman.”

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