Harrell's Gut Says Irish

Thursday was just like any other day for Mark Harrell. Homework was the plan for the afternoon until something struck him telling him Notre Dame was the best place for his college future. Irish Eyes spoke with Harrell about his decision to be Irish.

After telling many the recruiting process was still weeks away from coming to an end, Mark Harrell, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound tackle from Charlotte (NC) Catholic High School was hit smack in the face with a gut feeling. What was his gut saying?

"I've kind of been thinking about it for weeks and weeks and I have told a lot of people I would be narrowing it down and taking more visit. But today, it just felt right the more I started thinking about it. So I just pulled the trigger because it felt right and I just went with my gut feeling and I couldn't be happier or feel I could have made a better decision."

With six schools sitting at the top of him mind. Harrell found Notre Dame to be the right place for him. How does it feel?

"It's excellent! It's been a long process and I feel so relieved and comfortable knowing I made the right decision for me and also for my future. So I'm really excited and it feels awesome."

Who did it come down to before Harrell picked the Irish?

"At the end of the process there were six schools I was thinking about. They were Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, Auburn and Notre Dame. Every single one of them is a great school that has great educations and great football. But it just felt right to pick Notre Dame because I couldn't wait any longer. I appreciate all the schools that recruited me and wish I could play for all of them. But Notre Dame was the right place for me."

So what was Mark doing when this life changing decision came to him?

"You know, I was just by myself doing some homework when it hit me. So I called my dad and asked him what he thought and he came right home. My mom was already home so we started to talk about it and discuss the pros and cons as compared to the other schools and it just felt right.

"We all just agreed it was the best decision for me so I made the call to Coach (Mike) Elston to let him know and then broke the news to Coach Kelly and Coach Warinner. I also talked with my coach as well as my athletic director and my assistant coach who has been with me throughout this process. They all agreed with me so I had to do it and make the call."

What did Mark's conversations with the Irish coaching staff go?

"I gave Coach Elston a call and asked if he had time to talk later today because I did not know if it was a good time to talk. He asked me if it was good news or bad news. I told him it was good news and that I wanted to be part of Notre Dame. He was very excited and had nothing but good things to say and wanted me to give Coach Kelly a call.

"I then called Coach Kelly and told him the news. I guess he wanted to hear it himself. He was excited and ecstatic and we just talked about it as I told him why I was making my decision and why I felt it was best for me and told him I was onboard. Coach Kelly said he is looking forward to me coming up there and being a part of it.

"Coach Warinner was excited as well and said he was excited and looking forward to coaching me. He feels I fit well into their style not only as a football player, but also as a student athlete."

While Mark stated he wasn't worried about others making their commitments, he also knew Notre Dame may not be there if he waited too long.

"It made me nervous when Taylor Decker committed because Notre Dame does not have as many spots as most teams do with their offensive linemen. It didn't force me to make a decision, but it did open my eyes and expedite this process so I didn't make a mistake and miss out on a school when all the roster spots run out.

"So it made me think more and harder about the whole process and evaluate everything faster. Either way, with him committing I felt I still would be going to Notre Dame and now I'm just excited about it."

When looking back Mark says several things showed him the way to Notre Dame.

"When I went up there I was able to see everything as far as the education goes. Notre Dame has an incredible education and incredible business program which is my planned major so far. Not only the education, but I felt the student body there was nothing but positive as they are all great people. The coaches are all great people and it felt like a genuine family at Notre Dame. It just led up to feeling right.

The great football tradition at Notre Dame is unheard of. The kind of people that attend Notre Dame and the kind of people that are involved in the Notre Dame family and coaching staff made everything about Notre Dame great and made it feel right."

Now that he's on the committed side of the process Mark looks forward to reaching out to his new future teammates and helping others see the reasons why Notre Dame is the right place to go.

"I have not really talked to these guys before. But I'm really looking forward to getting to know my new teammates as these guys are going to be with me the next four or five years. So I'm looking forward to getting to know these guys and help in getting more great players at Notre Dame as well."

To Notre Dame fans, Mark knows you'll be keeping an eye on him and made the following promise.

"I'm going to work my tail off. The minute I step on campus I'm going to work as hard as I can and do everything they need me to do. Even before that I'm going to prepare my best for the next level. I'm going to work for it as I feel I can be a very good contributor to the team and the offensive line. So I look forward to getting to work and getting my mind off a lot of things."

As for his parents, Mark says they are all on board with his decision.

"They couldn't be happier as I feel they felt it was the right place for me the whole time. They were with me the whole time and supported me through it and are really excited and relieved as well."

Mark Harrell becomes the seventh member of Notre Dame's recruiting class for 2012. Look for more about Mark on Irish Eyes as we will have breakdowns and an interview with his high school coach.

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