Bockhorst eager for Irish return
Sophomore offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst used his spring break to check out a handful of college football programs.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, started at Toledo and left with his first scholarship offer. He then visited Louisville and landed his second. Bockhorst then visited Ohio State and finished the week with a stop at Notre Dame on Saturday.
“It was great,” Bockhorst said of his day in South Bend. “It definitely was a good visit and I’m looking back to getting back for camp.”
Bockhorst, who camped with the Irish last summer, plans to make a repeat appearance at the program’s offensive line camp this summer with the hopes of earning an offer. He wants another shot to impress Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand while learning from him too.
“I’m definitely looking forward to camp and I’m hoping I can perform well there,” he said. “I know coach Hiestand told me he watched my film and really liked it. He had some good things to say, which is always a plus.”
Bockhorst and teammate Sean Clifford, a 2017 quarterback, and their families arrived in South Bend Friday night. They made their way to campus early on Saturday for a day full of football activities.
It started with individual position meetings.
“We were able to get a players’ point of view from that,” Bockhorst said. “What I thought was cool is when the players came in they all introduced themselves to me. It’s a little thing but I thought that was cool. They all seem like really nice guys and guys that I could relate to. That was a good start to the day.”
The meeting let Bockhorst observe how Hiestand interacts with and coaches his players.
“I really liked the meeting. It was a longer meeting than some other meetings I’ve been too, however it didn’t really feel that long because you were engaged the whole time,” he said. “They kind of went back and forth between watching film and doing some other coaching, which I liked because you’re not doing one thing for 30 minutes and another for another 30 minutes. When you break it up, I like that. I liked the coaching that was going on.
“Coach Hiestand was definitely telling the guys what they were doing wrong and how they can fix it, but it was in a constructive way. He let them know what they were doing wrong and how to fix it and then it was kind of up to them to. “
Bockhorst liked what he saw from Hiestand.
“You could definitely see that he cares about the guys because he was coaching them hard and they always say when they stop coaching you that’s when you should worry,” he said. “It was a good meeting. They definitely got a lot done. He had an agenda and they got all their stuff done.”
After the team meetings, Bockhorst and Clifford spent time in the players’ lounge. It was there he bumped into a familiar face.
“We ran into Jeff Quinn, who is new on the staff there,” Bockhorst said. “My dad has known him since back in the Kelly at Cincinnati days. That’s where my dad played so we used to be pretty close to that staff and having Kelly’s staff and a lot of guys from that staff at Notre Dame now makes it a lot easier to have some connections. We got to catch up in the player lounge and we played some basketball and ping pong. That’s definitely a nice player lounge.”
Bockhorst then made his way over to the practice field to watch the Irish continue their preparations for next weekend’s Blue-Gold Game.
“That was definitely a productive part of the day, being able to observe how practice was run, which I thought was run very well,” he said. “The excitement level of practice was up and guys were flying around. I was watching coach Hiestand how he coached the drills they did. It was a great day and a great practice.”
The Irish impressed Bockhorst.
“They looked good,” he said. “The offense and defense both were making plays. It was fun to watch because they were getting into it. It was just an intra-squad scrimmage but they were getting into it and talking a little bit of smack, like we all like to do. There was definitely some speed on the field, that was one thing, and some hard hitters and fast guys on offense and defense. They were bringing the heat. It was fun to watch.”
After practice, Bockhorst and Clifford had the opportunity to speak with Hiestand and recruiting coordinator Mike Elston.
They both earned invitations to the Irish Invasion, but Bockhorst likely will return for the individual position camp instead.
“The Irish Invasion was thrown around, that’s their elite camp, but we kind of figured that the offensive line/defensive line camp would be best for evaluation for coach Hiestand’s standpoint and then learning and growth from my standpoint just because it’s a longer period of time and I could put in some good work. I went to that last summer.”
Elston and Hiestand are both expected to visit St. Xavier during the spring evaluation period.
“I know coach Elston for sure is going to be able to watch us work out in the evaluation period,” Bockhorst said. “That’s just kind of taking the next step to recruiting. Coach Hiestand said he was going to stop by with (Irish commitment) Tommy Kraemer being so close (at Elder High School), so he can kill two birds with one stone.”