Markese Stepp spent last weekend taking stock of the differences around his future home.
Several things have changed since the four-star running back from Indianapolis committed to Notre Dame last summer. Most notably, there are multiple new assistant coaches. That includes offensive coordinator Chip Long and director of football performance Matt Balis.
Getting back to campus for Junior Day marked a first in-depth experience with the new coaches for Stepp and other commitments. They struck a familiar chord.
“They were very welcoming,” Stepp said. “It felt like they’d been there for a really, really long time. Coach Long, the offensive coordinator, he was going over the offense and all that stuff. He was telling me what I’d be doing once I get there and stuff like that.”
Long detailed how Stepp could be used out of multiple formations. Balis, on the other hand, showed how the offseason program is already taking hold.
“Coach Balis is the most intense dude I’ve ever met,” Stepp said. “They were doing demonstrations and he’s so intense. Guys were in there gasping for air. They were just doing a demonstration and he’s really intense. He’s going to develop players physically really, really well. And also mentally because he’s going to push them.”
Others checked in along the way as well, from head coach Brian Kelly to running backs coach Autry Denson. But one of the most important aspects for Stepp was interacting more with current players, some of which he already knows.
Stepp has been committed long enough to connect with many of the incoming freshmen. Some, like former four-star running back C.J. Holmes, are already on campus starting their college careers.
Staying over in South Bend for a couple days let Stepp spend more time with the players and experience life as a Notre Dame student.
“It was great,” Stepp said. “We know a lot of the 2017 players since we’re in a big group chat with them. We all know a lot of players on the team already. It was great to hang out with them and develop a better relationship so when we get there we’re on the same page and we’re just ready to ball out.”
Stepp also continued his role as lead recruiter for the Class of 2018.
That’s already paid dividends with four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin jumping on board. Four-star athlete Braden Lenzy and three-star wide receiver Micah Jones were a couple other top targets in town for the weekend.
“We just talk about how we can make this place great,” Stepp said. “We’re getting new facilities. The Gug is going to expand, like double in size. That opened up a lot of our eyes. I just tell them that we’re gonna build this thing back up to the top in the country and we’re going to win a national championship.”