Julian Love hasn’t had to think about recruiting in a long time.
When the cornerback from La Grange Park, Ill., committed to Notre Dame last spring, he fulfilled a childhood dream. Love grew up an Irish fan and never thought he’d actually suit up for the program one day. But that’s just what he’ll do.
Love took a walk down recruiting memory lane with Irish Illustrated ahead of National Signing Day. He also looked ahead to his college career in this Q&A.
Irish Illustrated: First things first, how does it feel to be at the end of the recruiting process?
Julian Love: It feels pretty good to make it official. For awhile, obviously, I haven’t thought about making a decision or another school. But it definitely feels awesome to know that I’m about to be signed.
II: Take me back to the beginning of the recruiting process. Did you always have a sense that major college football was in your future?
JL: It was something I didn’t think much into. I knew I loved football. I loved college football and I knew I loved to play football. I basically just had fun my first couple years. I went to like one (sophomore) showcase because one of my coaches told me to go, that it’d be fun. The recruiting took off right from that showcase. It was really special. I’m happy I did it that way so it wasn’t always stressful and like work, work, work.
II: Your history with Notre Dame pre-dates that. We’ve talked before about your dad being a huge Notre Dame fan. What are your first memories of the program?
JL: Let’s see. It was the tight end for Notre Dame, Kyle Rudolph. He had a super long touchdown reception against Michigan. I was at that game, my dad was on the sidelines. It was crazy. I saw it on ESPN and I was like, ‘Wow, I was there. That’s insane.’ That’s definitely the first memory, it was so cool.
II: So when the recruiting process really starts to take off, what did you think?
JL: I did not know how to handle it at first. I put a lot on my plate and was very bad at managing time with coaches and visits, stuff like that. I had to learn quick. By the time I got like my second and third offer I had a system down, times when I would talk to a coach and times when I wouldn’t so I wasn’t always busy and hassled by coaches.
II: What do you remember about when Notre Dame first got into the picture?
JL: I believe it was when coach (Mike) Denbrock first came to my school (junior year). When that happened, I was ecstatic. I was like, ‘I can’t believe Notre Dame just came to my school.’ My coach was like, ‘What just happened?’
II: How did you tell your family that Notre Dame stopped by?
JL: I texted them while I was at school. I tried to make them guess. I was like, ‘Guess what coach just came in?’ They were thinking one of the local ones that I was talking to or smaller Big Ten. My dad was like, ‘What? That’s so cool.’
II: Obviously, the recruiting process is different for everybody. Some get their offers early and some have to wait for the ones they want. You were kind of in between but you had to wait a little bit to see what Notre Dame would do. How was that?
JL: It was kinda stressful because obviously I wanted to go to Notre Dame. I was trying to make the best impression possible. Every visit, every phone call I locked in and focused much harder than I did for every other coach because it was something I really wanted and knew I had to work for. If it was a showcase or 7-on-7, I made sure that I just went off to be in good standing with Notre Dame. That’s kinda how that was.
II: Then you came to the Junior Day, I guess it would have been around a year ago in March.
JL: Yeah, March 21st.
II: So you remember the date. What makes that a date you’ll remember?
JL: Just my parents being there and my little brother being there. We were talking through the facilities for maybe the second time, or first time actually. It was like, I love Notre Dame. And the entrance to the Gug is just so beautiful. I was like, ‘How is this happening?’ I’m just this goofy kid that had fun. I’m generally a nice person to people. I kinda thought it wasn’t supposed to happen to me. The whole day was just so surreal.
II: Here’s how I remember it. You took the visit and we did an interview and you said it was great but you weren’t committed yet. Then like an hour later you went public with being committed.
JL: I was coming back the next week with Miles Boykin and a few of my other friends. I kinda wanted to do it in front of them, officially. I was already committed to coach (Brian) Kelly. We were driving home and I was thinking, ‘I can’t keep this in for a week. I just can’t.’ After that I called a few more people in my family, let them know first. Then I tweeted it out.
II: How did your life change after that commitment?
JL: I was always that nice kid that did well in school and was involved in school. I kinda did the things I wanted to do by choice. After I committed, I kinda became the face of (Nazareth). I got volunteered for a lot of things. I could see people clearly talking about me, pointing at me when I was playing or even just walking. I don’t know. I just felt kinda special and privileged walking through school. It’s something you just can’t hide sometimes. That’s kinda the main thing.
II: Adding on to that, you repeated as a state champion to cap off your senior year.
JL: As soon as my junior season ended and we won state, I marked on my calendar that I’m gonna win it again. Husky Stadium, this is mine for the taking. I don’t have to worry about recruiting. I can just focus in on being the best player and teammate for my team. That’s kinda what it was. I went all out. I wasn’t afraid to get hurt or sell out my body. I just followed the process and enjoyed every minute.
II: Now that you’ve put that behind you a little bit, have you looked ahead to how you want to impact Notre Dame and the things you’ll have to do to get there?
JL: I’ve been thinking about it ever since I committed. I couldn’t really show it or talk about it because I was trying to stay focused on my season. But I’m gonna try and go in and let my effort and my play kinda speak for itself. I’m not one of the most highly ranked commits or recruits or whatever. But we’re all equal at that point. I’m just gonna do what I’ve always been doing and I’m gonna try to do it in every facet of the game. Wherever they need me, I’ll definitely be able and be capable to fill in or do whatever my freshman year. I want to make an impact going forward.
II: I’ve talked to others about this over the years. You grew up a Notre Dame fan, so it’s different for you than some other players that just got to know the program through the recruiting process. How do you think that changes the way you approach your college career?
JL: I feel like this isn’t just some other step for the next phase of my life like people that are just going for football. I have my heart in it and I’ll show that. I’ll appreciate every moment of it. I won’t take it for granted and I won’t let my ego get in the way. I know it’s bigger than me. That’s huge and that’s key. I just can’t wait.
II: When you look ahead, if we’re doing this interview four or five years from now when your college career is over, how do you want it to look?
JL: I wanna be memorable. I want a bunch of little kids to have me as their favorite player. I just want to make an impact. Hopefully I have the opportunity to be a captain for the University of Notre Dame. Say I’m not going pro, I know I’ll get that degree and have a job lined up by then.