Junior Day helped Notre Dame solidify its position in three-star running back A.J. Dillon’s top five, but what happened last month is what put the Irish there in the first place.
Notre Dame offered the grandson of former Irish All-American Tom Gatewood with the plan of using him on the defensive side of the football. Dillon had other plans and the Irish reconsidered.
“That happened probably a month or so ago,” Dillon said. “They confirmed I'm on the board as a running back, only a running back. That obviously puts them up there now. I came out with my top five (on Friday) and they're up there. They're one of the schools I'm thinking about the most, along with the other four.”
That group includes Florida State, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin.
With his recruitment back on track, Dillon and his grandfather attended Junior Day looking to learn more about the school and football program as many things have changed since Gatewood led the Irish in receiving for three straight seasons from 1969-1971.
“It went well,” Dillon said. “I really enjoyed getting back on campus and talking to the staff a little bit more about the school itself. He enjoyed himself too. He showed me a lot that I didn't really know and some things that changed over time. It was really nice.”
During the visit Dillon spoke with several of the Irish coaches including head coach Brian Kelly and running backs coach Autry Denson.
“I talked to (coach Kelly) earlier and obviously I talked to my area recruiter, Scott Booker, coach Denson and everybody else,” Dillon said. “They said I was a priority for them and they really see me helping out the program a lot. They're happy because they saw they were in my top five. They're just happy that I was taking them very seriously and the interest was mutual.”
Dillon will visit Michigan on March 21 and Wisconsin the following day. After that he’ll head home to discuss with his parents all of his options and any future trips he plans to take including a stop at Florida State and a return trip to Virginia to meet the new coaching staff.
“I'm just waiting to see when I go on these other couple of visits and then sit down with my family and see how everything fits,” Dillon said. “I definitely have a great feeling about Notre Dame after this visit. It was awesome.”