‘The people were everything’
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Bilal said. “It’s a great feeling, finally signing and making it official with Notre Dame. There’s a great opportunity ahead of me.”
In the days leading up to signing day, Bilal kept in touch with his future teammates as well as his recruiter Mike Elston.
“I talked to Coach Elston last night, and he was asking me how excited I was for the big day,” Bilal said. “I’ve been talking to the guys a lot on group message. We have a bunch of goofy kids, and we’ve just been talking with each other and getting to know each other better.”
Bilal’s mother, Tamarha Jackson, was present for Bilal’s signing day ceremony held at Ben Davis on Wednesday afternoon, and she spoke to Irish Illustrated about her son’s big day.
“I am just super excited, and I’m nervous,” Jackson said. “I’m also proud, and I’m happy.”
Bilal publicly held Michigan and Notre Dame tied at the top of his list throughout the majority of his recruitment before committing to the Irish in the fall.
“We had a pretty good idea of where he wanted to go,” Jackson said. “I always knew it in my mind. I just think the feel of it (Notre Dame) was right. He’s not emotional. But, I felt like I knew he wanted to go to Notre Dame.”
Jackson accompanied Bilal on visits to both Michigan and Notre Dame during the process.
“I liked the people at Notre Dame and knowing he was going to get a good education was so important,” Jackson said. “The people were everything and that just won me all the way over.”
Jackson also says she’s a big fan of Irish head coach Brian Kelly.
“I absolutely love him,” Jackson said. “He really is a great man. He has made me feel welcome and warm.”
Bilal’s recruiting process may have taken time to develop, but once he turned the corner to the spring of his junior year, it was full steam ahead. Jackson says it still hasn’t fully resonated with her that Bilal experienced so much attention on the recruiting trail.
“It never did hit me,” Jackson said. “I still look at him as my baby, and it’s hard to see past that.”
Bilal contributes to Notre Dame’s nationally seventh ranked recruiting class as a four-star star prospect and as the No. 8 ranked outside linebacker in the class of 2015.