Notre Dame legacy lands Irish offer

A.J. Dillon grew up learning a lot about Notre Dame from his grandfather, former Irish great Tom Gatewood. On Sunday, Dillon learned he’d have the opportunity to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

After visiting Notre Dame in June, junior running back A.J. Dillon hoped to land an offer from the Irish.

That wait ended Sunday when Irish running backs coach Autry Denson reached out to Dillon’s coach, former Boston College and Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Paul Zukauskas.

“Coach Denson talked to my coach, Coach Zukauskas, and he let me know,” said Dillon, a 6-foot, 225-pound running back from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass. “I was supposed to call (Denson) earlier in the day because he wanted to talk to my parents too but our schedules conflicted because I’m at boarding school so trying to get my mom and him on the same line didn’t really work, but we’re going to have a call soon. I did message him on Twitter and thanked him and he said I deserved it.”

The next call Dillon made was to his grandfather, former Notre Dame great Tom Gatewood.

“I talked to him for like 30 minutes,” Dillon said. “He was happy and proud of me and all the hard work I put in to get here. He’s not pressing me to go to Notre Dame or anything. He just wants me to make a smart decision for me and he emphasized what to look for in a school besides football. He just gave me words of encouragement.”

Despite his tie to the school and his affection for Notre Dame, Dillon isn’t a slam dunk to commit.

Dillon hopes to play running back in college but the Irish offered him as an athlete.

“That’s the first school that has offered me as an athlete,” he said. “Everybody else offered me as a running back and I want to play running back in college. Other schools approached me about playing linebacker but I told them I’m playing running back and they offered me as running back. I’m not sure where they’re going to use me right now because they don’t know who is leaving for the draft and who is staying and they have a lot of running backs right now.”

Boston College, Connecticut, Iowa, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Massachusetts and Villanova also have offered.

Dillon’s only other visits were to Boston College and Virginia but he hopes to see several more schools in the near future.

“I haven’t taken any visits this winter,” he said. “I’m looking for visits to take and trying to figure that out in the next couple of weeks when I see what other offers I get.”

As a junior, Dillon ran for 1,886 yards, averaged 10.1 yards carry and scored 26 touchdowns.


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