Since Chez Mellusi was in grade school he’s considered Notre Dame as one of the top programs in the country.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound running back ascended quickly during his high school career, becoming a national recruit. His offer list already includes Arizona, Auburn, Boston College, Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Rutgers and USC.
Notre Dame joined that list on Friday.
“(Coach Autry Denson) texted my coach and told me to call him and I called him and he told me (I had an offer),” Mellusi said. “I also met him one time and I’ve known of him. Today, he told me of his background and that he’s from Florida and Notre Dame. I think he’s really real and tells you how it is. He really told me a lot about Notre Dame and how they choose their players and how the process goes. I really like the guy.
“My dad was also on the phone when I was talking to coach Denson. He really liked him too because my dad really likes Notre Dame a lot. He was really excited too.”
Notre Dame and its archrival now appear to lead for Mellusi.
“As far as schools sticking out, some are but I told my coach from the beginning, Notre Dame is one of my favorites and USC is one of my favorites,” Mellusi said. “I just take it as it is because I don’t know how football programs are going to set out two years from now. I’m not sure but Notre Dame and USC are definitely my favorites right now.”
Mellusi wears a few important hats at Naples High School.
The Florida speedster lines up at running back, slot receiver and returns kick offs.
Last fall Mellusi put up 581 yards rushing on 69 carries, good for 8.4 yards per carry. He scored 14 touchdowns on the ground and added four more through the air.
Melusi has gained a clear idea of what Notre Dame offers in the classroom through a former teammate.
“Last year, one of our quarterbacks, he didn’t go to Notre Dame for football but he went there for academics,” Mellusi said. “I talked to him about it because I’ve always had a liking for Notre Dame ever since I was just little. I don’t know why. I just liked them. You know, it’s really not just about football because football doesn’t last forever. It’s just about the aspect of what you do after because if you have a degree from Notre Dame, you can get a very good job. So, that plays a very big part in where I go to college. Academically, they’re an amazing school.”
Another connection to the Irish comes from one of Mellusi’s rival programs in the Naples area.
“George Takacs doesn’t go to my high school, he goes to Gulf Coast,” Mellusi said. “Gulf Coast is like five minutes away from my school so, yeah. I know George just committed (to Notre Dame). We know each other because we play them every year. I’m not friends with him because they’re kind of our rival but he’s a nice guy and I’m pretty sure if he sees I got an offer from Notre Dame, he’ll probably hit me up and I’ll be talking to him about it.
“He’s a big boy.”
Mellusi is comfortable with the Midwest region. Unlike many top recruits from the South, Notre Dame’s location won’t become a distraction.
“I have family up there,” Mellusi said. “My grandfather lives in Chicago and my mom lives in Virginia. So, (South Bend) is a lot closer than living in Florida. I was born in D.C. I moved to Florida when I was 12-years old. I’ve only been in Florida for about three and a half years.”
Coach Denson got straight to work on getting Mellusi to campus for a visit.
“He was talking to me about (visiting) this fall because he’s not allowed to start texting me until September 1, my junior year,” Mellusi said. “Once that happens, I can go up there whenever he tells me to.”