Elmer's Heart All Irish

While the news of Steven Elmer's verbal commitment started to swirl prior to the Irish taking on Michigan State, Elmer decided he should be Irish a week ago on the hostile turf of Michigan Stadium.

Saturday's decision by class of 2013 Midland (Mich.) offensive lineman Steven Elmer to give his verbal pledge to Notre Dame may have surprised many recruiting followers.

However, Elmer knew in his heart he was all Irish during Notre Dame's loss to Michigan.

"I had always liked Notre Dame," said Elmer. "I've always considered them heavily. But after that Michigan game I went to last weekend I knew.

"I was on Michigan's dime there and I was there supposedly as a Michigan recruit or Michigan fan. Even after Michigan pulled off a thrilling victory, it was amazing as the whole place was just rocking.

"But I was upset, not that Michigan won, but because Notre Dame had lost. I was upset about that and I should have been freaking out. I should have been feeling how great of a game that was to go see as a recruit.

"It was at that point, I was so upset after that game, I knew there was no way I wasn't certain that Notre Dame was where I needed to go. Because if I couldn't root for Michigan or any other team in that kind of situation, then I knew Notre Dame was the place for me."

While Elmer admits growing up a fan of the Irish, it was the result of seeing the other aspects of Notre Dame that won him over.

"It wasn't even only as a fan," said Elmer. "I've always been a fan, but Notre Dame has grown on me so much since becoming a recruit. I hadn't really seen Notre Dame or experienced Notre Dame other than as a regular fan.

"But after getting to go to these games where you get to meet the coaches, see the facilities, and experience game day and everything like that, the more I saw, the more I liked it. I liked Michigan State and I liked Michigan and the stuff they have there too, but Notre Dame just had way more stuff going on for me and it was just a better fit."

When he combined last week's game against Michigan and the information he considered about the schools, Elmer knew the Irish had captured his heart.

"You could say I was a fan before that," said Elmer. "However, it was the recruiting process that made the whole difference and allowed me to see everything. I would never make my decision based on the school I was a fan of because that's not the smart thing to do. But it just happened to be a team that I had fallen in love with and I knew I couldn't go anywhere else."

How did things develop leading up to informing Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly of his early decision?

"We got there kind of early and pretty much timed it up just right as we parked," said Elmer. "Then, we walked over to the football building just in time, had some lunch and hung out for awhile.

"When the team finished up their meetings, they stop by the football building before they do their march to the stadium. They have about a 15-minute overlap period so they can stop and do whatever they need. It was during this period of time we had set up a meeting with coach Kelly and my family and me, and I told him I wanted to play football for him."

How did the Irish coach take the news?

"He was pretty happy," said Elmer. "He was pretty excited and I was really excited. I think he was just as excited as I was. It was great to do it just before the game and a little bit of good news before a big game never hurts. The game day experience was just fantastic and the crowd was phenomenal and we got a win. That was just icing on the cake."

Elmer had a chance to speak with a couple of the Irish coaches prior to game time about his decision.

"I talked to a couple of them before the game, briefly," said Elmer. "But not for very long as they were busy coaching. I mainly talked with coach (Chuck) Martin, who's my main recruiter. I also talked with coach (Ed) Warinner and a couple of other guys briefly. But I got to see them and be there and I got to commit to coach Kelly which is what I really wanted to do anyways, so I feel the day was a success on all fronts."

Elmer has more than a year before he can sign his national letter of intent. It gives him a chance to help build the remainder of the 2013 Irish recruiting class?

"I'm going to be attending as many home games as I can," said Elmer. "Whenever recruits show up there I'll be making sure they know what a great place the University of Notre Dame really is."

Saturday allowed Elmer to meet a few members of the class of 2012, as well.

"I really didn't know a lot of them as I hadn't put the names with the faces," said Elmer. "I did meet a couple of the players for the 2012 class who are committed and they all seem like great guys.

"I did get to meet Nick Baratti, who is from Texas and his family. I also got to meet some of the other families and they were all really great people. There was no one there I didn't like and there wasn't a thing there that I didn't like. I didn't know everyone there to start off with, but I met some of the other commits and liked them a lot and I'll be heading to some other games hoping to work on some other ones."

Beside football, what were the other deciding factors in picking Notre Dame?

"I really loved the campus," said Elmer. "It's my favorite campus by far out of all of them and it just fits me.

"I also really wanted a challenging institution for academics and Notre Dame provides that and goes above and beyond in that respect.

"We're Catholics too, so that played a big part in it as well. The way they take care of you for your whole life when you go there. You're part of a fraternity when you go there. After you graduate people come back and put their names on waiting list just to work as ushers for free at the games. That just shows how loyal their alumni are and how much they love their university. So they must be doing something right for all those people to come from all over the country to work as ushers."

How would Elmer respond to those who may feel he rushed his decision?

"I would say they're not in my shoes," said Elmer. "I know I wouldn't have made a decision unless I was 100% sure of it. I thought it over extensively and I've done my homework and this is my decision and I'm very happy with it and I know where I want to go."

With the Irish struggling the first two weeks, Elmer heard from others about what he should do. Did he have any doubts about Notre Dame?

"For the first couple of games it felt kind of rough," said Elmer. "Because there were losses it was tough as I know how a lot of people are just quick to pass judgment. When they loss to South Florida, I heard people saying how Notre Dame (stinks).

"Keep in mind I also live in a big Michigan town, too. People were saying Michigan beat Notre Dame so you got to go to Michigan now. Or, Michigan beat Notre Dame or 'I hate Notre Dame, Michigan rules,' and things like that. I've been facing all that stuff for the past couple of weeks.

"The other half of the town really likes Michigan State. So now that we have a win and proved to everyone that if we don't mess up or fumble and stuff like that. We can be a pretty good ball team. I think it was good to prove that to everyone and also to beat Michigan State, who is a fantastic team. So, there won't be anyone giving me any (garbage) tomorrow, I can tell you that."

Playing a big role in Elmer's decision were his parents.

"They were very supportive and are all really excited about it as they love Notre Dame, too," said Elmer. "They've been to other places and my mom graduated from Michigan State. They would have liked for me to go to any of these places, but they all really, really like Notre Dame. So they are very happy about my decision as well."

One thing Elmer feels is the strength of the Irish future is the young players who showed up on Saturday. Does it help to know the Irish are recruiting some of the top talent in the country?

"It definitely does," he said. "It shows they are recruiting the kind of players who can come in as freshmen and dominate a Michigan State team like that. It shows they are on the right path with recruiting the best players and they are on the right path with coaching them up the best as they can. It was a good sign to see all of that."

Elmer's junior year got off to a slow start but he's excited about the progress his team has made so far this season.

"It's been going pretty well," said Elmer. "We lost our first game but we're 3-1 right now and our last three games have been shutouts. I think we've outscored teams in the last three games like 155 to 0 or something like that. So they've all been blowouts and I've not gotten a lot of playing time the past couple of weeks.

"But this week was pretty good as I had some good plays and had some 'ok' plays. But I also had some good plays the week before that. I'm just working on eliminating those 'ok' plays and trying to make every game a highlight reel."

As for the things he needs to work on in his game, Elmer knows he's far from a finished product.

"I think the main thing I need to work on right now is implementing all the drill work and drills I had worked on all winter, all spring and all summer," said Elmer. "Everything I had worked so hard on and got fairly good at for just one year of working on it. So right now I'm focused on taking the drill and the technique and applying it to game situations."

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