"Surreal moment" for Rochell

Notre Dame signee Isaac Rochell of McDonough (Ga.) talks about what it feels like to officially join the Irish, recaps why he chose the Irish over a plethora of SEC offers, and explains why this year's signing class will have a long-lasting impact at Notre Dame.

McDonough (Ga.) defensive end Isaac Rochell committed to Notre Dame in June and never looked back. Now that he's officially a member of the Irish, Rochell knows his future as a Domer will be something unique.

"I actually signed Tuesday night," Rochell said. "I woke up and faxed my letter of intent at 7 a.m. My family was around me. It was honestly a surreal moment when the tone was dialing."

He admitted that though he was completely committed to becoming Irish, signing on the dotted line brought a sense of relief.

"Committing is the high of everything, and signing day is finalizing everything," Rochell said. "It was reassurance. It feels great. It feels kind of weird too, now that the recruiting process is finally over."

Rochell is the lone signee from America's true deep Southeast, with the exception of Florida -- an area where traditionally Notre Dame has had great success.

"It [signing] was a way to publically make a profession that I'm going to Notre Dame," Rochell said. "It's a big deal in SEC country. People say, ‘Why aren't you going to Georgia?' It's different for someone like me from a Baptist school in Georgia to go to Notre Dame. But, everyone supports me."

Rochell had offers from nine SEC schools, including juggernauts Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. So, why didn't the 6-foot-5, 257-pound defensive end choose an SEC powerhouse located right down the road?

"The first visit at Notre Dame, I felt something different from anywhere I'd ever visited," Rochell said. "I was really comfortable and at peace. Coach Booker was great. It was the stereotypical visit [in terms of agenda], but I felt something I didn't feel at the other schools."

And, it didn't stop there.

"On the second visit, I went with my brother, who goes to Air Force," Rochell said. "He was just like, this is a really nice school. That helped reassure me. There was no doubt I wanted to go to Notre Dame. Eight months later, I have that same feeling."

Though attitude and mentality aren't characteristics that necessarily contribute to a player's ranking, Rochell possesses not only the physical attributes, but also the intangibles that are so often associated with the "Irish makeup."

"At the big events, I've kind of surprised myself," he said. "At Georgia junior day and then at the Under Armour All-America game, I kind of surprised myself by how well I did against everyone. So, if I keep working hard and keep a good mindset, I think I'll keep surprising myself, and fulfilling my expectations. I'm not worried about playing time -- that will play itself out."

Rochell explained there's something unique and promising about this year's signing class for Notre Dame.

"Even before I committed, we were all like, let's get a good class together," Rochell said. "This class is already so close, and most of us have just texted or briefly met. There's something to be said for a class that's already so close before we even get to school. We know that in our junior and senior seasons, we'll naturally become leaders."

Rochell will officially arrive on Notre Dame's campus on June 15. Until then, he wants to continue improving.

"Once I get the Notre Dame work out packet, I'll do the running," he said. "My high school has a really good lifting program, so I'll probably keep doing that."

Rochell is a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 17 defensive end the 2013 class.

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