Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore defensive end Jonathon MacCollister considered Notre Dame his leader even before seeing campus.
He found out why on Friday evening, just hours into his visit.
“I felt at home,” MacCollister said. “I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”
MacCollister committed to Brian Kelly in the lobby of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.
“The coaches were running camps all day, so I was with one of the students, and she showed me most of everything,” MacCollister said. “Coach Kelly was my last visit. I was actually going into his office, but he ended up coming to lobby and talking to us. We were just standing around, and he asked how I liked it. I told him I think I’ve seen enough and I wanted to commit to Notre Dame. He was ecstatic about it.
“My parents were standing there with me. They weren’t surprised because they knew I belonged there too. My mom was tearing up the entire day.”
When the 6-foot-4, 260-pound athlete arrived on campus around noon after a 17-hour drive, a familiar face immediately greeted him in Parker Boudreaux, Notre Dame's freshman offensive lineman who teamed with MacCollister at Bishop Moore last season.
“I got out of my car and started walking to the athletics facility,” MacCollister said. “Then I heard a voice yelling my name and it was Parker just walking around. He knew I was going to be there, but I didn’t tell him I had made it to campus, so it was just a coincidence. So Parker showed me the locker room, and then I met up with coach (Keith) Gilmore before I started touring the campus.
“We got a tour of the Gug and ate lunch on campus. Then we rode around and saw more of campus, and the indoor facility and weight room. We saw the stadium, and I loved it. I think it’s cool that they’re adding on and it’s going to be done when I get there.”
MacCollister and his parents met with academic counselor Adam Sargent, a key figure in Notre Dame’s academic pitch to recruits.
“We had an academic meeting with the advisor and talked to him for a bit,” MacCollister said. “The key is that Notre Dame will try to get the best out of me on and off the field.”
As for the remaining couple of days of his visit, MacCollister will work out at Irish Invasion on Saturday night and discuss more in-depth with the staff about his fit in Notre Dame’s defensive scheme.
“I’m going to talk more about (scheme) on Saturday and Sunday,” MacCollister said. “I talked to coach Gilmore a little about it, and he said he wants me at strong-side defensive end. I think it’s kind of a relief just to go out (at Irish Invasion) and have fun and not worry if I’m going to commit or not. I’ll just get to enjoy playing out there.”
MacCollister plans to start immediately recruiting for the Irish, including with one of Notre Dame’s top receiver targets on campus this weekend.
“(The staff) didn’t say who specifically, but they said they want me to recruit this weekend,” MacCollister said. “I know I already want Jordan Pouncey. I think he’s close to a decision, so I’m definitely going to be pushing for him hard.”