Elliott talks Irish decision

Jalen Elliott didn’t head to South Bend on Friday with plans to commit, but he felt at home on campus and wanted to be a part of the Notre Dame family. That led to a surprise decision.

Three-star athlete Jalen Elliott didn’t expect to commit to Notre Dame during his first visit.

It just turned out that way.

“I went in with an open mind and really wanted to just look around but it turned out for the best,” said Elliott, a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder from L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield, Va. “It just felt like home away from home. A lot of people said when you know you know, and I felt that way. There was just something about it. I’ve been to a lot of campuses and Notre Dame was the place for me.”

Elliott quarterbacked Bird to a 13-2 record and a state title last fall but he was recruited to play free safety at Notre Dame.

He has some experience at the position and he was among the best defensive backs at Notre Dame’s Irish Invasion camp on Friday night. But he knows he has to continue to fine tune his skill set to be successful at the next level.

“I have a lot to work on technique-wise, but it was really my first time playing fully as a DB,” he said. “I played straight off athletic ability and I know in college you have to have technique. For the most part I learned a new type of coverage with the man press and just keeping my eyes on the man. I started to play a lot better close to the end when I started getting used to it. I feel like I was one of the top DBs out there but I know I always have to keep working and getting better so I can be one of the best in the country.”

It didn’t take long for Elliott to realize Notre Dame was where he would continue his education and playing career.

He and his parents arrived early Friday morning and spent some time touring campus and meeting with members of the academic staff. He even met Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick.

“I got there a little bit early so at the beginning I took a little bit of a different tour,” he said. “I just kind of went around to the academics and I got to meet the AD, which was amazing. I never got to do that before. After that we went back and did pretty much what everybody else did.”

The visitors were treated to a player panel, which included several current Irish players answering questions and sharing their experiences as a Notre Dame student-athlete.

That’s when Elliott made his decision.

“The coaches, they really showed how much they wanted me to be there and how much they would love for me to play at Notre Dame and the people and connections along with the school really put it over the top,” he said. “We did a players panel and after listening to the questions that they answered I just looked at my parents and said this is the place that I wanted to go, where I wanted to be for the next four years.”

Elliott shared the news with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and defensive backs coach Todd Lyght.

“We were in the position meetings and coach VanGorder and coach Lyght were in there. After everybody left I kind of pulled them back in there,” Elliott said. “I just told them I didn’t know how many commitments they had on the list right now but I wanted to add my name to the list and they asked if I was committing. I said, ‘Yes sir,’ and they just went crazy. It was a good feeling.”

Later, Elliott shared the news with head coach Brian Kelly and on Saturday he’ll spend more one-on-one time with his future coach.

Scout.com has listed Elliott as the 127th best wide receiver in the nation but he’ll stick to the defensive side of the ball in college.

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