BEAVERTON, Ore. - Once Robert Hainsey made a decision, there was little chance of holding in the news.
Hainsey decided the give Notre Dame a verbal commitment a couple weeks ago, right around the time he visited for Irish Invasion. He informed the coaching staff then wondered what to do next. Waiting until the Under Armour All-America Game in January was out of the question.
Instead, the four-star offensive lineman from IMG Academy by way of Monroeville, Pa., chose the biggest summer stage in recruiting: The Opening Finals. Hainsey made his decision public during a telecast of the 7-on-7 competition.
Getting through the last two weeks proved difficult.
“It was pretty hard,” said Hainsey, who chose the Irish over Michigan and Michigan State. “A little bit harder than I thought it was gonna be because I planned on committing at the Under Armour Game. Once I made my mind up I was like, ‘OK, there’s no way I’m gonna be able to hold onto it for that long. Luckily, this was coming up. This was another good stage. I could still do it on ESPN, so it all worked out.”
Hainsey makes 15 total commitments for Notre Dame in the Class of 2017 and the third offensive lineman, joining four-star prospects Dillan Gibbons and Josh Lugg. Hainsey wasn’t clear on the exact position where Notre Dame projects him, although he could contend at all three interior spots.
Notre Dame has added five commitments since the middle of June and two this week. Four-star athlete C.J. Holmes, another player at The Opening Finals, announced his verbal pledge on Friday in a produced video.
Four of the five recent commitments were on campus for Irish Invasion. Hainsey brought his mother along on that trip, following up on a spring visit with his father. Turns out that follow-up trip helped clinch his choice.
“I think because I was able to enjoy it more instead of being a recruit more,” Hainsey said. “Since I already saw everything, I just got to hang out and take it all in. Just by that I realized it was the best place for me.”
Getting back to campus let Hainsey reconnect with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. He also spent time with current offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey, Sam Mustipher and Quenton Nelson.
They all spoke highly of Hiestand, backing up what Hainsey thought was a huge positive for Notre Dame — Hiestand’s reputation as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country.
“I can tell by what he’s told me,” Hainsey said. “He’s sent me packets of articles of stuff about him and what he’s done. He really just wants to show me, ‘I’m not lying to you. I told you I did this. This is what I’ve done, so you can see that.’ He’s coached in the NFL. He’s been an offensive coordinator, he’s done all that. Right now he says he just wants to be an offensive line coach, that’s what I like. I don’t see him going anywhere for the rest of the time coach Kelly is there, so that’s good.”
Now Hainsey plans to take on the role of recruiter. He listed five-star offensive tackles Foster Sarell and Trey Smith as a couple of targets. They were both participants at The Opening Finals as well. Notre Dame may have just one offensive line slot remaining in this class.
Hainsey will have plenty of things to pitch.
“I just think it's the place I can be most successful no matter what,” he said. “Without football I’ll be happy there. It’s a school that’d be very hard for me to get into even with my grades. That’s something you really shouldn’t pass up if you can because the degree is outstanding. Other than that, if you want to talk football, coach Hiestand is a great coach. I know I’m gonna learn a lot and get better.”