A decision is officially around the corner for Carlo Kemp. With his official visits now behind him the Boulder (Colo.) Fairview LB/DE will soon be sitting down with his family to weigh the pros at cons of his three finalists; Michigan, Notre Dame, and Colorado.
Kemp’s mother, Peach Pagano has been with him every step of the way and will be instrumental in helping settle on his ultimate choice. Looking back on all their experiences she doesn’t expect it to be an easy process. Heading into the fall Kemp had Michigan on top. After traveling to Ann Arbor for the BYU game a few weeks back mom could understand why.
"I would have to say (the Michigan visit was) fantastic,” said Pagano. “From start to finish it felt like home, if that's a better word. From going to the (Barbecue at the Big House in early August) and I guess the weeks later for his official visit, it's just the feelings were just magnificent. Everybody was the same, from the coaching staff from the wives. The wives are unbelievable. Unbelievable women that those coaches have and how they make you feel welcome and like you've been there the whole time. Again, maybe that's because we have met them once and that happens to everybody but the Colonel (Jim Minick), he was wonderful to his wife and every single person. The athletic director to personally letting Carlo know how special he is… it was magnificent. There really wasn't one negative thing, honestly."
“Seeing (the Big House) was unbelievable. It was great, and it didn't feel like 110,000 people. They're there and everybody is doing the same thing, everybody is in on it. It was unbelievable. It felt close. Even though it was 100, however, I think there was 109,000 people there that day. It feels like a family, a close-knit place. It was cool, very cool."
One of the prime objectives on the visit was to give Kemp’s grandfather and best friend, legendary Colorado high school football coach Sam Pagano and accurate feel for how cumbersome traveling to Ann Arbor would or wouldn’t be. Prior to the visit he believed it would be extremely difficult. After the visit he was singing a different tune.
“It's much easier and I made note of that from flight times to when we landed (and) from when we got in the car,” Ms. Pagano said. “He was busy talking to the coaches that had picked us up and I said, 'Dad, you need to pay attention here.’ We were on the highway' and then they went back to conversing. Then right about the 24 minute mark, or however long it took us, I said, 'ok Dad, now we're exiting and here's the hotel that we stayed the first time.’ I just made sure he understood that and he did. It was very clear. (Laughter)"
Michigan clearly set a high visit bar, but in Pagano’s eyes Notre Dame did a good job of reaching it.
"That was fantastic too,” she said of their experience in South Bend. “They are two different places. Obviously from student capacity (standpoint), but Notre Dame is a very spiritual place for me and my family just because being Catholic and having that upbringing. We were, and still are Notre Dame fans. That's how we grew up and so being there, it was fabulous too but in a different way. It was different. It was different. You felt the tradition, felt the player walk… felt that stuff. Having ‘Touchdown Jesus’ in the background you can't beat. (Both are) Great schools but it's just different.”
The Wolverines and Irish have clearly made very strong impressions on the talented youngster and his family, but mom made it clear that it would be premature to totally rule out the home team.
“Colorado is still in the mix,” Ms. Pagano stated. “I know everybody is writing that they're not. I think, has said that Notre Dame and Michigan are neck-and-neck. It's just we're really trying to literally write down the pros and cons, what it's going to come down to, and where he's going to feel the best. The staff at Notre Dame are wonderful people. Their wives that I got to meet were wonderful. And the same for Colorado. Everybody is great up there.”
“So he can't go wrong in where he does decide, but those two schools are special in their own way. Notre Dame... (and the same at) Michigan it feels like academics are first. And then it's football and then it's fun life, nightlife, social life. They just felt like very, ‘get your work done type of campus.’ And Notre Dame has that edge over Michigan, I think."
The program that winds up with the majority of the slight edges will ultimately be the victor. In likelihood that determination will be made this weekend.
“We’re kind of deciding on (whether Kemp will have a press conference),” Pagano said. “Carlo is not a very flashy kid. He is very humble and doesn’t like all of that stuff. He still doesn’t even have twitter. I think he is going to announce something via the local newspaper. I told him we weren’t going to talk about it until Sunday. His Godfather came in for his game (Friday) and he use to coach at Notre Dame. Now he is up at Boise as a volunteer. (Carlo) was just so overwhelmed (by his Godfather’s presence) and with senior night that I said let’s just talk about it on Sunday. Let’s get through the weekend because I really think he wants to get it over with. He is ready.”
Expect an announcement to come sometime next week.