Jackson Perkins knew where his trip to Notre Dame would begin.
First, Perkins watched practice. That’s where defensive line coach Keith Gilmore took center stage. Perkins, a three-star defensive end from Barrington, Ill., watched closely as Gilmore worked with his players.
Perkins also took a bigger view of the proceedings. He sees big things in store for the Irish not only during this weekend’s Blue-Gold Game but also come fall.
“I could just tell the guys were excited to be there,” Perkins said. “You go some places and the vibe isn’t too good. But you could tell the guys were competing. It looks like they’re gonna have a good season next year.”
Later in the visit, Perkins toured campus and sat down with the coaching staff.
Gilmore and associate head coach Mike Denbrock, who recruits Chicagoland, talked with Perkins about where they stand in the recruiting process. That conversation included an invitation back to campus for the Irish Invasion camp in June.
“This was the first time I’ve been on campus,” Perkins said. “I knew going in it wouldn’t be an offer right away. But they said I’m a guy they’re definitely interested in and they want to see me come back and compete against the best guys.”
Perkins, who is close friends with Notre Dame tight end commitment Cole Kmet, wants to use that invitation as a chance to impress the staff and land that scholarship offer.
Kmet scored his offer shortly after Irish Invasion last June. He committed four months later.
“I’m decently recruited right now,” Perkins said. “I get it. Everyone’s recruiting game is different. I want to show them some of these offensive guys and defensive guys might be all that in the recruiting game but I want to show them that I can whoop on them.”
Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan and Wyoming have already offered. Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin have been in contact.
Perkins hopes to visit Michigan State and Wisconsin. His summer camp schedule is open, aside from that Notre Dame return.
It’s the first offseason of his career without basketball — Perkins had played a national AAU schedule with the Illinois Wolves — so he hopes more attention to football will bring more options.
Already the 6-foot-6 prospect is up to 225 pounds after playing last season at 210.
“My recruiting isn’t broad enough right now for me to narrow it down,” Perkins said. “I’m open to a lot of things right now, obviously. High academic schools are always a priority of mine. When you put good football in there it’s a really good thing.”