Rafael Eubanks committed to Iowa after his December 10th visit and after forming a strong bond with players like Dan Doering, Dace Richardson, Jake Christensen and Tony Moeaki, all of whom were with him on his visit.
Rafael knew that Doering had silently committed to Iowa, and that Richardson was leaning that way, so he pulled the trigger.
But what a lot of people don't know is that Notre Dame was a program that the family had intended to visit all along. However, the coaching change for the Irish put things on hold, and between the firing of Ty Willingham and the hiring of Charlie Weiss, Eubanks made that fateful Iowa visit.
Rafael's visit to Notre Dame clouded the waters more than just a little bit. We spoke with Rafael and his father, Don, on Sunday night and have the latest on his recruitment and where he stands.
What were your thoughts on seeing all of the prospects committing to Iowa on National Television?
It was neat to see. I was most certain with Dan and Dace; I knew they were going to commit. I heard that Bain was going to be committing, but no one knew about Tony. When I was down there with all of them that weekend, I felt that things were turning for him. I just felt it was a matter of time.
It was neat to see all of those guys out there committing. I think it did a lot of good for Iowa to have all of those guys on national TV. I think Iowa definitely got some great exposure.
Did it do any good for you? You had a good visit to Iowa and then committed, but then you visited to Notre Dame and you liked that visit, too.
The biggest selling point for Iowa to me was being there with all of those guys on that weekend. Not just because they are good football players, but how much we clicked on that weekend as a group, being able to talk and more.
Just this week, I have gotten a couple of calls from Dan, Jake and Dace while they were down there, seeing how things were going. I don't think something like this happens that often, that a group of guys, seven or eight of us, were able to click like that. That was a big thing.
I thought that taking the visit to Notre Dame would solidify my commitment to Iowa. So I at least had a chance to look at Notre Dame. I didn't know what to expect, but I didn't expect it to make me change my mind.
But it had a bigger impact on me than I thought it would. This past week has been tough, in a sense that it brought things almost back to 50-50 between them and Iowa.
Of course, Notre Dame has its story line and tradition, not to mention the fact that they have a great school, so there are a lot of tempting things there. So it has been a hard week for me mentally, just thinking about it.
It was so hard to compare the two schools. I look at what Iowa has going for it, and Notre Dame did not have that. Then I looked at what Notre Dame has going for it, and Iowa didn't have that thing. It was real hard to compare, because I know that no matter where I went, I would be successful.
But we sat down tonight and really talked about it, and when it all came down to it, I know and my parents know that Iowa is the place for me. It's hard to say no to Notre Dame, because they have been a dream in my eyes. That has been one of the biggest things, too…saying no to Notre Dame.
But I do that knowing that I want to go to Iowa and that I am going to do well there, especially with this group. The potential we have as athletes at Iowa might be the same as what Notre Dame has, but I did not click with the guys at Notre Dame the way that I did at Iowa. I know that I will have a great time together with these guys, and we are going to work hard together to hopefully start a special tradition of excellence at Iowa, or build on what is going on there now, because they are pretty good right now.
Have you called the Notre Dame coaches tonight?
I just got off the phone with Coach Weiss right before you called.
It was harder than I thought it would be. I have had two or three weeks talking with him, so I didn't think it would be that hard. He just got home from the playoff game, and I was the first person he was calling. He told me that he was thinking about me. He told me a lot of things this weekend. He was working against a year and a half of familiarity against Iowa. He was disappointed, but he wished me the best.
Will you be able to sleep better tonight?
Oh yeah. It has just been a real tough week. I was thinking about this each and every day. I never dreamed things would be this stressful. But I feel real good now.
All weekend, those kids in San Antonio were talking about you. When some linemen got hurt down there, the kids were asking me if I felt they might invite more offensive linemen down, and who can they talk with to get you down there. How did that make you feel?
It felt great. Of course, I wish I could have been down there, just for the opportunity to hang out together. To have them call like that really meant something. It really solidified what I knew we are going to experience together for the next four or five years.
Some people have wondered on the message boards if the Notre Dame visit was something that you did due to pressure from your parents. Can you clear the air on that one?
I know that a lot of people have been thinking that my dad has been anti-Iowa and pro-Notre Dame, but that has not been the case at all. He likes Iowa a lot. It was the same for me as it was for him; Notre Dame is a special place, and before Iowa ever even was in the picture for me, Notre Dame football was something that I had thought about my whole life.
Some people out there were saying that my parents were being bad parents by having me visit Notre Dame, and they were thinking that it was against my wishes. But that was not the case. They just wanted me to see things that we had talked about before; they wanted me to see the plan through. They want what is best for me and they didn't want me to be second guessing things.
It was nothing against Iowa for me taking that visit. We talked with the Iowa coaches about taking that visit, and they were fine with it. Of course, I did not expect for it to be like this, or this hard, me wondering if Iowa was the place that we still wanted to go to.
But in the end, I know now 100 percent that Iowa is the place for me. I have no doubts, and that is a good feeling.
In part two of our Eubanks ‘recommitment' story, if you will, we will have quotes from Don Eubanks, Rafael's father, about the speculation that he was pushing Rafael towards Notre Dame. Don said that was not the case, and that Notre Dame was one of four or five schools that the family had agreed to visit when this process began. The firing of Tyrone Willingham, the unexpected strong bond formed in Iowa City on the December 10th recruiting visit, Rafael's somewhat surprising commitment at the end of that weekend and then Notre Dame's hiring of New England assistant Charlie Weiss created quite a whirlwind of emotion and excitement.
The elder Eubanks will explain how he and Rafael's mother just wanted their son to perform the necessary due diligence so that he would know he made the right choice. And as you just read, that is exactly what happened; Rafael is at total peace with his ‘recommitment' to Iowa and is looking towards his future in Iowa City without any ‘I wish I would haves' lurking in the back of his mind.
EDITORIAL COMMENT FROM JON MILLER: Isn't that what good parents do? Much more on the way from Donald Eubanks.