Five-star linebacker Ben Davis made the trek to Notre Dame unsure if it would suit his interests.
Davis, a native of Gordo, Ala., had never visited South Bend. He’d only heard about Notre Dame from others, including primary recruiter Autry Denson, and done some research online. What Davis saw and experienced over the course of his official visit this weekend almost defied explanation.
“Notre Dame is not a really big school but everybody is close knit to each other,” Davis said. “You can’t really describe it. You’ve gotta go up there and see it yourself.”
Davis arrived at Notre Dame on Friday to begin the 48-hour trip alongside his parents.
One of the first things he did was FaceTime with former five-star linebacker and Butkus Award winner Jaylon Smith, who recently announced his plans to enter the NFL Draft. Davis and Smith talked, swapped numbers and have continued to send text messages back and forth.
Current linebacker Asmar Bilal and defensive lineman Jerry Tillery served as primary hosts. All of them relayed the reasons they ended up at Notre Dame for college ball.
“Really just the family aspect of it,” Davis said. “Notre Dame, the whole institution, the alumni included, they look out for each other. And then the whole networking base is incredible. That’s what they really told me about it, what’s really special. It’s just different.”
Denson has been spearheading Davis’ recruitment but the visit let other coaches get more involved. Linebackers coach Mike Elston and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder talked with Davis about scheme and being an every down linebacker.
Head coach Brian Kelly touched base Saturday and Sunday
“They talked to me a lot,” Davis said. “They see me coming in as a three-down linebacker, staying on the field and playing all three positions. That’s what they really just told me. We looked over some film and talked about football really.”
Taking everything together, Davis sees the Irish trending up in his recruitment.
“Notre Dame definitely helped themselves,” he said. “They were toward the bottom of the list but now they’re definitely in my top three. Like I said, I definitely had a great time. I learned a lot. It’s way nicer than I thought. I’ve got a whole different perspective on Notre Dame right now.”
Next up for Davis are official visits to Alabama and Auburn. Each will play host over the next couple weeks, although Davis isn’t sure which one is up first just yet. Georgia and LSU have already received official visits.
Davis plans to announce his decision on National Signing Day. Notre Dame moved into Davis’ current top three and he revealed the other two main contenders.
“Right now it would probably be Alabama and Georgia with Georgia being No. 1,” Davis said.