Abdel Banda hasn't been in the United States for long. "I moved here after my father passed away six years ago," said Banda. "I live in Ghana Africa before I moved here. It wasn't a big change for me because my mom lived here and I had been here before."
Banda didn't know much about football when he first arrived. "I wasn't really into football. I didn't know much about it. I didn't start playing until my freshman year. I was OK as a freshman. I was probably getting by on my athletic ability because I didn't understand the coverages and things like that. My sophomore year, I started to understand the game better and was a much better player."
Even without the experience of having played a lot of football, Banda knew he would make it in football. "I never knew I'd make it to a place like Notre Dame but I always knew I'd make it somewhere. My coaches kept telling me that I had great potential. They just kept me focused and told me to keep working because I had a lot of potential and it could get me a scholarship."
That potential is speed and athletic ability. "I think all the colleges were interested in me because of my speed and athletic ability. I'm a raw player; I'm only 16 so I think they saw some potential in me. My best 100 time is 10.7 and I run a 4.47 40 time."
Coaches did take notice of Banda. He had scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Purdue, Iowa, Indiana, Wake Forrest and Duke before choosing the Irish.
Banda had never heard of Notre Dame before arriving in this country but he said it didn't take long to find out about Notre Dame. "When you are in high school, it doesn't take long to find out about Notre Dame. When you start thinking about colleges, everyone talks about Notre Dame. I then started to find out about Notre Dame football and that is when I really became interested."
Banda hadn't received a lot of attention from Notre Dame but decided to take an unofficial visit anyway to check out the school. "We went on an unofficial visit there. I just wanted to see the campus and meet some players and the coaches. I loved the campus atmosphere. I met with the admissions department and found out what a great academic institution it was. The football stadium was huge and I fit in very well with the players there."
Coach Willingham also made a big impression on Banda. "He's a remarkable guy. I knew he was the type of guy I wanted to play for. He's just so impressive in everything he says to you."
The only problem for Banda—he didn't have an offer from Notre Dame. "They had the wrong tape of me. I didn't know that but I went back home and my coach and I said ‘let's send another tape and see what happens.' As soon as they got it, the interest level really picked up. They had some tape sent to them by some scouting service and the guy they were watching wasn't me. Once they saw my tape, they offered shortly afterwards."
Banda now had his offer and knew what he would do. "I came back from my visit and I told my Mom that if they offered, I was going to Notre Dame. As soon as they did, we talked and I talked to my coach and I committed. I knew this was the place for me."
The waiting did make Banda a little nervous. He said he had no idea if they would offer. "I really didn't know what to think. I was hoping they would offer but it didn't happen. I'm really glad we decided to send that tape. It really made me feel great when they offered. I was really happy because this is what I wanted and not many people get what they really want."
Banda says his next trip to Notre Dame will be in December. "They want me to come up for my official visit for the banquet. I think that is the second weekend in December. I'm really looking forward to getting up there again."
Banda will also kick off his season this weekend. "I'm playing this weekend. We should have a very good team this year and I'm excited to start playing again. I'm very happy I got this out of the way and I know I'm going to a great place."