Oden gets first Irish look
The 6-foot-6, 180-pounder from Spring Hill High School in Columbia, Tenn., was impressed by everything the Irish had to offer.
“It went great,” he said. “I met some new people and that’s always fun. I met the coaches and saw all the facilities and whatnot. It was all pretty good.”
Oden, who traveled to South Bend with his mother and younger sister, made sure to meet all of the Irish coaches during the trip.
“I think I shook every one of their hands at least three times,” he said. “They were asking me how everything was going and who all offered me and what I was doing in the off-season. They were just trying to get to know me.”
He especially enjoyed meeting Irish quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford.
“He was really cool and an up-tempo type of coach,” Oden said. “I could get used to that. I really like him.”
In talking to Sanford and watching the Irish quarterbacks in practice, Oden feels confident he has the skills for the position in South Bend.
“Based off of what I saw, they have really, really athletic quarterbacks who can do a little bit of both (run and pass),” he said. “I think I can bring that to the table.
“They were doing a lot of play-action and going through their reads and carrying out their fakes; a lot of that stuff. I just thought how crisp they were and how they worked on perfecting what they were doing.”
Even the academic presentations were a highlight for Oden.
“I spoke with one of the graduate assistants and he was telling me how in the classroom with the professors they already know your name and they make you feel welcome and wanted. That really stuck out to me the most,” Oden said. “He was just telling me how the next four years is really important and Notre Dame is not for everybody. You really have to work hard at it.”
Meeting former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, whose son Elijah also attended Junior Day, was the icing on the cake.
“It was amazing,” Oden said. “Watching him on TV, watching documentaries of him beating up Mike Tyson, and then meeting him was pretty amazing.”