He unveiled his Top 5 cut-down list to Scout.com today, and the Irish factored in heavily.
"It went great," the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Watkins said. "I really enjoyed myself. When I was on campus, they talked to me about academic plans, the graduation rate and I hung out with the players. They're real cool.
"My coach talked to me and I really expected it to be like a regular school, but it was way more than I expected."
The other four schools on Watkins' list are Clemson, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. And even though the visit was a few weeks in the past for Watkins, he said everything about it remained fresh.
"I would say everything stood out," he said. "Notre Dame is a real good school during and after college. You've got a chance to make it to college, but if you don't make, you're still going to make it in life because of the education."
Watkins, a four-star, is rated as the No. 12 defensive tackle in Scout.com's 2012 class, but that is not how the Irish see him fitting into their 3-4 alignment.
"They said they were recruiting me for defensive end," Watkins said. "I watched film of their defensive ends, and how they pass rush."
Asked if he could have success in that system, Watkins did not hesitate in saying "most definitely."
Watkins made the journey with his coach, father and brother, and it gave them all a chance to meet coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
"I talked to (Kelly) twice when I was up there," Watkins said. "He's a great guy, a great coach. We really got to know each other when we were up there, and I really did like coach Diaco."
One issue Watkins is facing is whether he wants to travel far from home for school. After making the 700-mile trip, seeing the campus and meeting with the staff and players, Watkins got his answer.
"It's far, but I can make it," he said. "I can do what is best for me in the long run."
As for his Top 5, Watkins called them "pretty much equal," but added he wanted to make a decision before the start of his season. That means more visits, but he is not sure of the timing on them.
"I will get to some other schools this summer," he said. "(Notre Dame) wants my mom to come back up, so we're going to try."