Four-star linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch knew Notre Dame could offer an elite education long before he got to South Bend. What the Houston product needed to find out was if Notre Dame felt like a place he could spend the next four years of his life.
After taking his first official visit over the weekend, McCulloch got some answers.
"It is the perfect fit for me, definitely,” McCulloch said. “I knew that the second I stepped on campus and got around the players and the people and the coaches. It feels like home. No doubt about it.”
McCulloch arrived on campus with his mother on Saturday morning.
“We did the usual stuff you do on visits, like see campus, the facilities, where the players eat and work out,” McCulloch said. “I talked to the head of admissions, and he fell in love with me. He thinks I would be a perfect fit at Notre Dame. He told me I can ask him questions about anything anytime that I want.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker watched from the stands as Notre Dame defeated rival USC 41-31 on Saturday night.
“It was great and the fans were electric,” McCulloch said. “Even when they got behind they were still cheering, and when they took the lead again, the stadium erupted. I hung out with Daelin Hayes, Tony Jones and Tommy Kraemer, and we had a really good time.”
McCulloch took note of Notre Dame star linebacker Jaylon Smith’s 14-tackle performance versus the Trojans’ prolific offense.
“Notre Dame wants me to come in and be the next Jaylon Smith,” McCulloch said. “That’s something I like.”
On Sunday, the No. 5 ranked outside linebacker had one-on-one conversations with the coaching staff.
“Coach (Brian) VanGorder told me that he coached in the NFL and that he knows what it takes to make me successful at that level,” McCulloch said. “Coach (Brian) Kelly told me there’s no better school in the country for football and academics. And coach (Mike) Elston told me how much he wants to coach me and talked about how much potential that I have.”
Elston is currently on the road recruiting during Notre Dame’s bye week. Houston was the first stop for the Irish recruiting coordinator.
“He said the same things as Notre Dame has told me all along,” McCulloch said. “Notre Dame’s message hasn’t changed, and that’s something I really appreciate.”
McCulloch entered the weekend with Notre Dame in his top 12. The visit solidified the Irish spot among McCulloch’s top contenders as he dives deeper into the recruiting process.
“Notre Dame will be in the hunt until the end, that’s for sure,” McCulloch said. “I’m not cutting my list anymore until I announce my decision on Jan. 2 at the Under Armour All-America Game.”
McCulloch has official visits set to Florida (Nov. 7), Stanford (Nov. 21) and Florida (Nov. 28).
Texas and Texas A&M figure to receive visits as well, though trips to the in-state programs could come as unofficials.