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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Pakola Looking For "Somewhere Where I Can Be Myself"

July 5, 2018

Irish eyes were on NaNa Osafo-Mensah‍ during the defensive line drills at The Opening, but there was another 2019 defensive end target that was competing in Dallas as well. Joshua Pakola‍ is a prospect that Notre Dame offered way back in September of 2017 and it’s easy to forget about him because he has not made it to campus since that offer.

Even without a visit, the Irish are still in the mix to land him. They made his top-7 when he announced it back in June and he doesn’t have a timeframe for when he wants to make a decision.

“I want to use as much visits as I can before I make my decision,” Pakola told Irish Sports Daily at The Opening. “I want to make sure I give every school I’m considering a good opportunity to recruit me.

“Notre Dame was saying that I have never been up there and they want to make sure I give them a chance to recruit me before I make my decision so I think I’m going give them a chance and take a visit up there.”

That’s great news for the Irish coaching staff who are in search of another end in this class and Pakola is a good one. He's a long athlete that can convert speed to power as a pass rusher and is only going to get better once he develops his hands.

Notre Dame will have some work to do in order to catch Stanford and USC who seem to be standing out above the rest right now. He recently took his first official visit to USC and he came away feeling very comfortable with the staff and players.

“That visit was amazing. It was my first official so it definitely stood out to me,” admitted Pakola. “Going in I didn’t really know what to expect. People told me they roll out the red carpet for you...and it was everything they said it was." 

USC also has the benefit of having a cousin on Pakola’s on their team.

“My cousin goes there right now, (former Notre Dame recruiting target) Brandon Pilil. I was hanging with them. One thing that really stood out to me is the bond that I was able to create with all of the players and coaches. Hanging out with them, it was easy for me to connect with them and chill and crack jokes. That was on the first day I got there. All the players it was like I’ve known them for years even though I have just met them.”

Stanford has been considered the favorite to land Pakola, mostly because of how close it is to home. He lives less than twenty minutes away from Palo Alto and has been to Stanford’s campus several times.

“When I think Stanford, I think family,” Pakola stated. “Family and home really. There’s not much I really need to say. The academics and athletics speak for themselves and every time I go there, I can just be myself. I’m at home really.”

While that sounds like it might be difficult to overcome, Pakola has heard from Brian Polian how much Notre Dame has to offer as well. Pakola is looking at the big picture and to more than just football for his college experience.

“Academics are huge for me. That’s why Stanford stands high on my list. Notre Dame noticed that about me that academics is something big for me. Honestly, I didn’t know how great their academics were until they started reaching out to me and telling me about it.

“The more they are talking about it, the more I am starting to get interested in them. It’s making me actually want to take a visit out there. I’ve heard the campus is beautiful and obviously they compete at a high level and their coaches are developing a great relationship with me, so that means a lot.”

One edge that Notre Dame could have over these other schools is not only the opportunity to play baseball as well as football, but has someone they can point to currently having success in both sports on their team.

Pakola plays in the number one league in the nation for high school baseball and batted .370 this past season. Playing baseball in college is very important to him and the Irish have Cole Kmet as an example of someone who is playing football and baseball right now as well as others who’ve played both in the past as well.

“A lot of them are open,” Pakola said when asked if schools were okay with him being a multi-sport athlete. “That’s the first thing my Mom says when we meet them, “Can he play baseball?” If it’s not, then I can’t go there.”

Selling the combination of both sports could be a big factor, but in the end it’s going to come down to if everyone can make him feel like he fits in with the team and can be comfortable for the next four years. “

The school I’m going to go to is somewhere with great academics, great athletics, and somewhere where I can just be myself. Where I don’t have to change my personality.”

We’ll see if the staff and the players can convince him that that place is Notre Dame.

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