Phil Paea didn't wait long to follow up with the latest school to enter his recruitment.
Notre Dame asked about the defensive tackle from Berrien Springs, Mich., in the last week. Paea decided to take the coaches up on an invitation to visit campus on Monday, making the roughly 30-minute drive south with his coach.
Paea watched a player workout, toured campus, met with the staff and checked out the football facilities.
“I was just really impressed with everything,” he said. “The facilities are really nice. They’re remodeling a lot of it. They’re putting, I think they said, like $80 million into it. They’ve remodeled a lot. When I was watching the players work out, you can just tell they knew what was expected. They hustled round everywhere. They were moving a lot of weight. It was good.”
Defensive line coach Keith Gilmore, recruiting coordinator Mike Elston and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder all touched base. Paea is also being recruited by some programs as an offensive lineman, but he took this as a sign of where the Irish might want him eventually.
BYU, Central Michigan, Michigan, Michigan State and Oregon had already offered scholarships before Paea visited. Other interested programs include Nebraska, Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa.
Notre Dame followed suit by offering Paea hours after the visit ended. The coaches had alluded to the possibility earlier in the day.
“It was kind of a get to know me thing,” Paea said. “They told my coach that they were probably gonna offer me sometime in the future. It was good.”
Familiarity with the program is something the 6-foot-4, 282-pound prospect had before the trip.
Notre Dame is the closest major college football program to Berrien Springs and has recruited the program before. Defensive end Jhonny Williams signed with the Irish in the 2014 recruiting class before eventually transferring to Toledo.
“Just growing up right next to Notre Dame, no matter where you went everybody knew about it,” Paea said. “I knew it was like a nationwide, well known college. It’s very prestigious for its academics. It’s amazing football there.”
Paea said adding Notre Dame to the offer list would “change” his recruitment, a process that to this point he’s been taking slow. BYU was the first to offer after Paea camped there.
“I’m just taking it in a little bit at a time,” Paea said. “Just trying to focus on my school, get that over with. Then I’m gonna try to focus on what I wanna study in college and talk to my family about what would be the best situation for me but also my family.”