Official Visit Primer: Part I

A horde of prospects are making official visits this weekend as Notre Dame hosts USC. So, what does it mean? And what is the key point(s) for each visitor? breaks it down in a reader-friendly format.

Recruitapallooza begins Friday, with so many recruits rushing from games and scurrying to catch late flights to the Notre Dame campus for Saturday's game against USC it is like hustling to grandma's house the day before Thanksgiving.

Yes, there is that much excitement, and that many people coming from all over the country to see if Notre Dame holds that something special for them.

The weekend will be filled with the usual stuff, like getting academic presentations, touring the campus, learning about the social life, meeting the coaches and watching a football game. It just so happens this is the first night game in decades at Notre Dame Stadium, it is against arch-rival USC, and there will be more big-name talent in attendance than at a post-season all-star game.

In fact, the weekend is exploding so much had to roll out its "Official Visit Primer" a few days early, and must break it into several pieces. To help you get primed for the biggest recruiting weekend of the season, takes a look at who is coming, and what are the most important aspects of the weekend regarding each prospect.

Ifeadi Odenigbo
Position: OLB
School: Centerville (Ohio) High
Height: 6-4
Weight: 220 Position Rank: Four-star, 3rd
Schools under consideration: Ohio State, Notre Dame, California, Stanford, Northwestern Official visits made: This will be his first
Official visits on schedule: Thinking about Stanford (11/2)
What this visit means: This is huge if the Irish hope to land the stellar athlete. He is long been thought to be favoring Stanford, and getting him is still a chore for the Irish, but this is a chance to show his family if Notre Dame matches up well academically with Stanford.

Location is usually a big thing in college football, and let's face, all things being equal (or close to equal), recruits are usually going to side on a school that is closer so family can come see them play more often.

It bodes well Odenigo is bringing his family, and this is also a chance for him to see how he would fit into Notre Dame's 3-4 defense, and get a sense for what campus life is like.

Arik Armstead
Position: OT
School: Pleasant Gove High (Elk Grove, Calif.)
Height: 6-8
Weight: 275 Position Rank: Five-star, 1st)
Schools under consideration: Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, California, Michigan, and many others Official visits made: This will be his first
Official visits on schedule: Alabama (11/4), considering Cal, Michigan and others
What this visit means: Armstead was committed to USC for more than a year, but he has been looking for a while. He tried to visit Notre Dame in the summer while on an AAU trip to Indianapolis for a basketball tournament, but it didn't work out.

At first, he wasn't talking to the Irish basketball staff, but that has changed. He has a strong interest in the Irish, and they get to set the official visit tone since it will be his first. It also is ironic the game is against USC, where his brother plays, but that is not the reason for his visit.

Notre Dame needs to show Armstead a few things, including the need it has for a left tackle and how he can balance playing basketball and football. His interest in the Irish is legit, and this is a huge step in his recruitment.

Donaldven Manning
Position: CB
School: Miami Central High
Height: 5-11
Weight: 180 Position Rank: Three-star, 39th
Schools under consideration: Committed to Virginia Tech Official visits made: Virginia Tech (10/7)
Official visits on schedule: Could visit Nebraska
What this visit means: Manning told this week he loves Virginia Tech and plans on going there, but he wants to do his due diligence and check out the Irish. And what better game than against USC?

Manning said he was serious about Notre Dame and he likes assistant coach Tony Alford, but it will take something dramatic to sway him from the Hokies. It is closer to home, he would play more road games closer to his home so family could see him, and it is a school he has known for a while and has a strong relationship with the staff.

Things change, though, and that is why he was invited to make the trip.

Jordan Payton
Position: WR
School: Oaks Christian High (Westlake Village, Calif.)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 205 Position Rank: Four-star, 12th
Schools under consideration: Michigan, California, Notre Dame Official visits made: Michigan (9/10)
Official visits on schedule: None, but is contemplating one to Cal
What this visit means: Notre Dame has one change to flip Payton. He told Tuesday afternoon he plans on making his announcement Oct. 25, and Michigan is his leader. His coach, Bill Redell, also said Cal was high on Payton's list.

Obviously, he likes Notre Dame and is looking forward to the visit to learn more about the school and to experience the game-day atmosphere, but there is a popular thinking Payton knows where he is going, and there is a reason he is waiting until the day after his trip to make his announcement.

Notre Dame will have to a home run (possibly a grand slam) to get Payton.

Tee Shepard
Position: CB
School: Washington Union High (Fresno, Calif.)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 180 Position Rank: Five-star, 3rd
Schools under consideration: Committed to Notre Dame Official visits made: This will be his first
Official visits on schedule: None
What this visit means: Shepard just needs to feel like he is at home. It has been a trying fall for the superb cornerback because his transfer from Central High East Campus (Fresno) to Washington Union hit a huge pothole when he was ruled ineligible by the CIF. He doesn't plan on playing this season, and will enroll in January, providing he finishes his coursework.

And while Shepard had talked about taking visits to other schools just for the sake of taking a free trip and experiencing something new, he is shying away from that plans on competing for a starting cornerback spot in spring practice.

Shepard's visit is about having fun and recruiting the non-committed players to Notre Dame, particularly a California contingent of safety Shaquille Thompson and Armstead.

Deontay Greenberry
Position: WR
School: Washington Union High (Fresno, Calif.)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 180 Position Rank: Four-star, 6th
Schools under consideration: Committed to Notre Dame Official visits made: This will be his first
Official visits on schedule: Miami, Georgia and Arizona are possibilities, but nothing is set
What this visit means: Greenberry committed to Notre Dame in May, in large part because of what his cousin, Tee Shepard, was saying about the campus. The crazy thing is this will be Greenberry's first visit to campus, so it is huge in that way.

It's hard not to love the beauty and history of the campus, and since schools are in the business of putting together stellar official visit experiences, expect Greenberry to come away feeling warm and fuzzy about his decision of a few months ago.

Still, it must go well. Official visits, though a rarity, do go awry sometimes, and it is important Greenberry leaves feeling even better about his decision than we he steps on campus. Top Stories