But that hasn’t stopped Notre Dame, and particularly linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Elston, from heavily pursuing four-star linebacker Jacob Phillips of Nashville (Tenn.) East Magnet School.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound athlete first visited Notre Dame in the spring for Junior Day. He returned last weekend on an official visit with both parents.
“The atmosphere was wild,” Phillips said. “You can tell how much tradition and history is present at Notre Dame because there’s no jumbotron but the fans know what’s going on. They don’t need crowd cues or anything like that for their cheers. You can tell they grew up on Notre Dame football.
“I liked the old-school feel to the game. I kind of wish there was a jumbotron to see a replay, but I liked how the stadium was set up. It probably seems like there are more people than there really are because of how enclosed it is.”
Phillips plans to hold a press conference in mid-October to announce his decision. Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are the heavyweight contenders.
In attempt to learn more about Notre Dame, Phillips did his homework while on campus.
“After the game I hung out with the players,” Phillips said. “My host was Jonathan Jones, and I got to go back to his dorm and pick his brain on some things. I asked how he liked living with a non-football student and what he thought about the coaches. He said they really care about you and push you hard.
“I also talked to the coaches about how they see me fitting in there. They think I’m versatile to play all three of the linebacker spots, but they said they really like me at Will linebacker where I would rush the passer and drop back.”
Phillips and his parents also had a meeting with Don Bishop, the associate vice president of undergraduate enrollment at Notre Dame.
“I really liked him,” Phillips said. “He talked to me about the transition to Notre Dame and he said he had no doubt that I could succeed at Notre Dame. My parents enjoyed meeting with him, too.”
Phillips singled out the weather in South Bend as the primary drawback of Notre Dame.
“I just don’t know about how cold it gets there,” Phillips said. ‘They play Big Ten teams like Michigan and Michigan State, and something like that could be a game-changer. That’s something I talked to the players about, too. They said it’s cold but you get used to it.”
Phillips will take his third and likely last official visit to Alabama on Oct. 1 when the Tide hosts Kentucky. Following his trip to Tuscaloosa, Phillips will enter into decision mode.
“My parents are giving my good advice, but they’re definitely leaving the decision up to me,” Phillips said. “My mom has been making a list of pros and cons of each school, but it’s my decision.
“I’m just going to lean on God to help me make my decision. I’ve been taking visits and talking to people, but after my Alabama visit, I’m just going to pray about it and see what path He’s really paving for me.”