2020 DE Blaise Gunnerson Gets A Deeper Feel For Notre Dame

January 28, 2019
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2020 Kuemper Catholic (Iowa) defensive end Blaise made another trip to Notre Dame over the weekend and this trip was much different than when he came for Florida State game in November. 

The most significant difference on this trip was the smaller group of prospects on campus and that allowed the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder to get some time with the Notre Dame staff, including defensive line coach Mike Elston. 

“That last time I was at Notre Dame, I think they had over 100 recruits at the Florida State game,” Gunnerson told Irish Sports Daily. “I did get to talk to Coach Elston, but it was for only 10 minutes, so this was a much more personal trip.” 

Following registration and measurements, Gunnerson was able to listen to recruiting coordinator Brian Polian speak on Notre Dame before heading off to experience campus life.

“We had a really good talk with Coach Polian,” stated Gunnerson. “He did a really good job of talking about the excellence of Notre Dame. The speech he gave was really cool. The basketball game didn’t go well, but that was expected. We had a good lunch and they had some nice wings I knocked down. 

“I had a really good meeting with Coach (Mike) Elston. There was just one other defensive line guy in there, so that went well. He talked a lot about technique. You could tell he’s a really good defensive line coach by the way he talks about all of it.”

In addition to his conversation with Elston, the three-star prospect was able to catch up with his area recruiter, Tommy Rees.

“I talked to Coach Rees for a while,” Gunnerson said. “He recruits Iowa and I have a good relationship with him. He’s stopped by my school a couple times.

“I’m really comfortable with Coach Rees. He’s a great guy to talk to and I relate well with him on a lot of perspectives. He’s given some good advice on the recruiting process and how to handle all of it. He played at Notre Dame, so he really knows what it’s like to be a player and at the center of attention.” 

When it comes to an offer, Elston was straightforward with his Iowa native as the Irish are interested but want to see how he comes back from a torn labrum in his hip.

“They want me, but they need to see me workout post-surgery to make sure I can still move,” explained Gunnerson. “They want to see if I can play the defensive end position before they offer. I’m going to work out in front of him within the next three or four months. I’m really anxious for that to happen.” 

The honesty was well received by Gunnerson and he’s on track to be able to impress Notre Dame and other coaches by the start of the summer. 

“I’m practically done with the rehab process,” Gunnerson stated. “My hip is 100%. I’m squatting and running, but I have two more checkups appointments in February and then I’ll be officially done with it. It’s really exciting.” 

While the injury has put a small delay on his recruitment, Gunnerson has remained positive and believes once he can work out, the offer list of Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota State will only grow. 

“It’s been frustrating but I’ve added a few offers despite being injured and that’s helped,” Gunnerson explained. “I don’t think teams can deny my size and my work ethic hasn’t gone done. Once teams see I can still move, I think my whole recruitment will start to go up.” 

The glamour of Notre Dame was on full display over the weekend, but the Kuemper Catholic standout was also impressed with some raw numbers.

“Coach Polian gave a couple slides on academics,” stated Gunnerson. “One was comparing graduation rates for African-American individuals and white individuals with all other schools. Notre Dame was way ahead of every other school by 5-10%. 

“It does make a difference. They weren’t biased numbers because they are put out by the NCAA. As a student-athlete, it will influence where you go. I don’t’ want to go to a football factory because that’s not the type of person I am.” 

Gunnerson isn’t slowing down on visits as he will make a few more visits in the near future.

“I will be going to Iowa, maybe on Friday,” said Gunnerson. “I haven’t put that one in stone yet. I’ll be going to Minnesota’s Junior Day on Saturday. I’ll get to Nebraska at some point, but besides that, I don’t have much going on.” 

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