Most official visits are more or less the same.
During the season, they include game days. Before and after there are tours, academic meetings and sessions with the coaching staff. Prospects will hang out with players on the roster. But just because official visits feature the same events doesn’t mean they don’t make an impact.
Jordan Pouncey learned as much last weekend. Pouncey, a three-star receiver from Winter Park, Fla., returned to Notre Dame about five months after giving the Irish a verbal pledge.
“The message from most of the coaching staff was they can’t wait to have me up there so I can make an impact on the team,” Pouncey said. “They need me but they also want me. That goes a long way. I’m not some number to fill up a scholarship spot.”
Pouncey made the trek with both parents, which meant a first look for both.
Needless to say, Pouncey viewed the trip as important. Head coach Brian Kelly helped reassure his parents their son had made a prudent decision at Irish Invasion back in June.
“He was mostly talking to my parents,” Pouncey said. “He was telling them they have nothing to worry about, that I’ll be well taken care of. He was showing them one of the systems they use to make sure the players are doing good and just have conversations with him. It was basically reassuring them that I’d be in better hands than elsewhere.”
Game day might’ve been the overall highlight, even as Notre Dame suffered a loss to Stanford.
Pouncey soaked in the atmosphere outside the stadium first. Then he watched warmups on the sideline before taking in the game itself from the section designated for recruits just below the students.
“I got there Friday afternoon and it felt like game day,” Pouncey said. “The campus was buzzing. People were walking around everywhere and the pep rally was awesome. Actual game day, I was real anxious all day. I know the players had to sit in their hotel all day after the walk through. It was real positive vibes. We toured around campus and the campus was nonstop moving. There was stuff going on every second of every minute.”
Along the way, Pouncey connected again with some fellow commitments. Wide receiver Michael Young was back in town for the first time since Irish Invasion as well. Safety Isaiah Robertson, offensive tackle Robert Hainsey and linebacker Pete Werner were among those in attendance.
Despite Notre Dame slipping to 2-5 with the loss to Stanford, current commitments are upbeat about the future. Pouncey and Young talked about making an impact right way.
“That’s really what all of us want to do,” Pouncey said. “I know talking to Hainsey, that’s one thing we want to do. We’re not gonna jump ship just because the season is going bad. We wanna go in there and make an impact.”
Pouncey knows that won’t be easy.
Current linebacker Jonathan Jones, also from the Orlando area, served as Pouncey’s host and helped describe what the experience is like as a football player. Pouncey returned home feeling up to the task.
“They said that it’s not gonna be easy and I don’t expect that,” Pouncey said. “If I wanted it to be easy, I would’ve gone to a different school. I wanna be challenged. They just said there’s a lot of competitiveness in the classroom as well as the football field. It was a lot of, ‘We can’t wait to have you here and be prepared to come here and work.’”