Tommy Brown first visited Notre Dame three years ago when his brother was being recruited as a baseball player. The 6-foot-7, 320-pounder from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., returned on Saturday for his first visit as a recruit.
He wasn’t disappointed.
“It was pretty awesome,” Brown said. “They know how to do game day right in South Bend. It's different going for a game day. When we went three years ago it was their spring game with all the other spring activities going on. Having it be a game day with everyone there and all the festivities going on, it was much different than the spring game.”
Brown, who didn’t begin playing football until his freshman year due to youth league weight limits, has already landed scholarship offers from Cal, Florida, Michigan, UCLA and several others.
He hopes to add Notre Dame to that list.
“I got to talk to coach (Mike) Denbrock and coach (Harry) Hiestand for a little bit,” Brown said. “They were kind of focused on the game but they said they were interested and coach Denbrock is going to be by Mater Dei this week. They said they were interested and I should just keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully their interest grows and they can give me an offer.”
Speaking with Hiestand was one of the highlights of the trip. The Irish offensive line coach seems to have that effect on top prospects.
“He's pretty cool,” Brown said. “Talking to him and then watching him coach I kind of got the feel that he's like the cool uncle who knows how to have fun but knows when to get serious too. We were joking around and stuff and then when he was coaching he was serious. He seemed like a nice guy and hopefully I get to know him better.”
Brown liked what he saw from the Irish line.
“I didn't really watch the offensive line too much during the game, I was watching the ball,” he said. “You don't really watch the offensive line when you watch the ball, but they were definitely big and when I saw a great block I pointed it out. I saw a few of those. It's a little different live than when you watch it on TV and can rewind it.”
Brown visited UCLA twice and Cal once for games this season. He plans to be at LSU for the Alabama game next month.
He was surprised by the different environments between South Bend and the schools out West.
“Notre Dame is different than the Pac-12,” he said. “In the Pac-12, it's a different vibe. You show up late to the game and leave early as a fan while at Notre Dame you show up and you're there all day and you're there for the whole game. It's a lot different than out West, where in Los Angeles there are so many things to choose from. It's only Notre Dame in Indiana.”
Following the visit, Brown is high on the Irish and an offer could make things interesting.
“It's a big offer,” he said. “It would definitely be up with the ones I'd be taking seriously. I'm not really making a list right now, I'm just enjoying the process, but they'd definitely be up near the top if I had a list.”
Scout.com ranks Brown as the 82nd best prospect and 11th best tackle in the recruiting class of 2018.