Wide receiver Jordan Pouncey wasn’t the only commitment Notre Dame received on Saturday evening. He wasn’t even the first.
2018 Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral running back Markese Stepp found Brian Kelly amidst the excitement leading up to the feature workout portion of Irish Invasion.
“I actually committed to coach Kelly before Irish Invasion started,” Stepp said. “But I waited to announce it. He has an office inside the locker room, and that’s where I did it and my family was there too.
“He was really excited. I don't even think I got the entire word 'commit' out before coach Kelly jumped out of his seat so freakin’ fast.”
Listening into the conversation from outside the room was elite junior defensive back Houston Griffith.
“He heard me do it,” Stepp said. “He was excited for me.”
Saturday was Stepp’s fifth visit to campus. He visited twice in the fall and returned twice in the spring. Indiana was Stepp’s first offer last September. Notre Dame offered in February.
“I knew how much I loved Notre Dame,” Stepp said. “It was my mom’s first time on campus and seeing everything. She liked it a lot, and I was like, this is it, mom. This is where I want to go. The academics, spirituality, athletics, and the community, it’s the best of everything.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound running back had planned to visit other schools later this summer, including Alabama, Clemson, Michigan State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech. Ultimately, the environment of the evening was enough to encourage a change in plans.
“I wasn’t necessarily thinking about committing,” Stepp said. “I just got a great vibe before Irish Invasion started. Now it’s no more visits.”
Stepp stayed on campus Saturday night with running backs Josh Adams and Dexter Williams.
“It was really fun,” Stepp said. “I got to hang out with a lot of the players. I was with Pete (Werner) because he stayed the night with me and C.J. Holmes, Jordan Pouncey, Avery Davis, Cole Kmet and Houston Griffith.”
Holmes admitted to Irish Illustrated he almost committed Saturday evening. Stepp confirmed those thoughts.
“Oh yeah, (Holmes) was thinking about it,” Stepp said. “I think we’re gonna get him.”
Stepp rushed for 17 touchdowns and more than 1,300 yards on 150 carries last fall, averaging over eight yards per carry.
“My running style is a mix of speed of power,” Stepp said. “I don’t go down easily.”
When asked to compare his game to that of a NFL running back, Stepp listed three prominent backs.
“I would say a mix of Adrian Peterson, Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell.”
Stepp is Notre Dame’s second commitment in the Class of 2018. He joins quarterback Phil Jurkovec as Irish pledges in the junior class.
“It’s a relief that it’s over,” said Stepp. “Now I can focus on one school and my game.”