ADDISON, Ill. - Malik Vann got healthy enough to put in a little work last weekend, setting the stage for this summer.
Balky hamstrings almost cost the rising junior defensive end from Fairfield, Ohio, a chance to compete in The Opening Regional outside Chicago. Instead, Vann battled through a nose bloodied by contact to learn more about himself at this stage in his development.
Vann found himself matched up against older players, including four-star offensive tackles Trey Smith and Josh Lugg. Smith remains uncommitted while Lugg is pledged to Notre Dame.
“It was good,” Vann said. “I can't wait to do this next year and do Rivals next year. I had to sit out Rivals last month because of a hamstring and I almost had to sit this one out because of the hamstring. But I fought through it and had fun.”
Down the line, Vann wants to apply the lessons learned in May to college camps.
Notre Dame will get the 6-foot-3, 245-pound prospect back on campus for the Irish Invasion next month. Right now the Irish comprise a top three that includes Kentucky and Michigan State. Vann last visited for the Blue-Gold Game.
“Atmosphere was great,” Vann said. “All the fan support, they came out for the spring game. Walking out and seeing all the fans right there waiting for the players, I signed autographs.”
Linebackers coach Mike Elston, who doubles as area recruiter, has been in to see Vann this spring as a followup. Vann will reward that persistence by working out for the staff at Irish Invasion.
Elston, however, has continued to pitch the University as a whole rather than focusing on the field.
“Just how good an academic school it is,” Vann said. “He says, ‘A degree from here will get you jobs in your field almost immediately. Coach (Brian) Kelly said Notre Dame, it sells itself. You can’t talk it up. It just sells itself.”
Vann also plans to camp with Ohio State this summer. The Buckeyes have yet to offer. Camps will be an offseason measuring stick for Vann and a chance to mingle with other prospects.
“I want to see how different or if our playing styles are drastic from one another,” he said. “Most of the guys I’ve seen so far are around my playing level or aggression and strengths and stuff.”
Beyond his top three of Notre Dame, Michigan State and Kentucky, other programs to offer include Cincinnati, Louisville, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Purdue, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Vann plans to make a commitment sometime between the end of his junior year and before the beginning of his senior season. He’ll be weighing some broad criteria between now and then.
“How well they graduate their team and their student body,” Vann said. “The success of the team. And how comfortable I feel around the team.”