There was day when luring a player like Jake Goray (6-4, 240-pounds) up to South Bend on an official visit during the players senior year proved to be a tough task. Magically, in a matter of a year, the new Notre Dame staff seems to be able to invite juniors to visit Notre Dame unofficially in the middle of January and have recruits attend from around the country.
"Notre Dame is very prestigious and anyone who is anyone has heard of it," Goray said. "Immediately when I arrived I was very impressed. It had a certain mystique to it. I had always heard about it. I've heard of its academic reputation and I know it's a great school, which is part of what I'm after. It's also got the athletic background to back that up. It's different and I tell you what, I really liked it."
Getting a player of Goray's stature to visit South Bend from Florida during January is more than simply sending an invitation. There are hours of groundwork this staff dedicates to identifying the elite juniors from around the country, staying in touch with them, and getting them excited about the program.
"Certainly once they started sending mail, and the media guide I learned more about it," Jake responded when asked what he knew about Notre Dame prior to visiting the campus. "My family is from the South. We're generally SEC and ACC every weekend. But ever since they started sending me stuff, I started following them and learning more and more about them.
"I was very impressed with the coaches. They were very nice. They took good care of us. They answered any questions that we had. They did a good job of not only explaining their philosophy but how they run things up at Notre Dame."
"Coach Weis spoke with us before hand as a group," Goray continued. "He's obviously a great man. He's a very good coach. He's obviously got the NFL background to back it up. He was a very impressive guy. He was down-to-earth and straightforward— very personable.
"The facilities were excellent – top of the line. They've done a lot of renovation I got to meet coach Parmalee, and coach Haywood--the offensive coordinator. Everything about it...I had a great time – I loved it."
The junior days are often an opportunity for the player to learn about the school, but Goray had a good idea of what Notre Dame offered before arriving for the weekend.
"I kind of researched the place before I went up there, so I wouldn't say that I learned a lot," Goray answered when asked what he had discovered about Notre Dame from his visit. "But really I was surprised at how personable the coaches were. They were very humble and very personable as I said. They were eager to answer any question and they weren't arrogant at all. You would think a great school like that, that they might be arrogant, but they weren't in the least. I think that might have been the biggest surprise. Really, everyone, in fact was really nice.
"We had dinner with coach Lewis that night. My father knew of coach Lewis from Georgia Tech and Georgia. Growing up in the Atlanta area we knew who he was. He was a very nice guy and very knowledgeable, not only about the football stuff but the academics side as well. He was able to answer a lot of questions that we hadn't thought of earlier in the day and he gave us some background."
Goray doesn't have any offers at this early juncture, but he has the attention of most of the top schools in the Southeast.
"Several schools have sent me stuff, and I've been fortunate," Jake said of the recruiting attention that he's receiving. "Georgia Tech, Auburn, Miami, Florida State, LSU and Alabama are pretty consistent in sending me stuff. But I'm pretty open right now. I just want to keep my options open, not only football-wise but with academics as well. Everything that I've gotten so far has been great."