"Recognizing his football talent was not as easy as recognizing his athletic ability," said Rockhurst high school football coach, Tony Severino, of D.J. Hord. "He didn't play football here as a freshman, but he was a heck of a track and basketball guy. You knew he had a lot of great athletic ability.
"As a football player, I think he's just developing. I think the best is ahead of him and Notre Dame will be really happy to have him."
Hord's decision to play football was perhaps one of his best decisions of his life. Because of his athletic talent and strong work ethic, Hord's football development earned him many scholarship offers and an invitation to play in the US Army All-American game in San Antonio, Texas.
Hord played in the game and selected Notre Dame over LSU and Kansas State at the game's halftime. His decision was based on three factors, but knowing that he would receive the academic and football support from the players, staff, and school administration also impacted Hord's decision.
"The degree says a lot," said Hord on why he chose Notre Dame. "I also felt comfortable with the players and the coaches. Lastly, I just thought it was the perfect fit for me.
"I really like how other players are helping you through. Darius Walker was my host when I visited. I really liked him a lot. He answered my questions and talked about how Notre Dame will help you get a job after school."
Before Hord arrives at Notre Dame this fall, he will be developing and refining various elements of his football game. He is also conscious of the differences between college football and high school football, what he needs to do to adapt to these differences, and his goals as a freshman.
"I want to work on my strength, quickness, and foot speed," Hord said. "I want to work on strength so I don't get jammed by corners, and I want to work on my foot speed so I can get in and out of breaks faster."
"The speed of the game," Hord said in response to one area he'll have to adapt to with college football. "It's going to be different. The defenses are a lot faster, so that's going to be different. Additionally, learning the plays and learning the system may be difficult"
"Coming in a new system, and picking up the system the fastest I can is one of my goals. I know that the best players will play, and I want to try to play wide receiver as soon as I get there."
Coach Severino recognizes Hord as great fit for Notre Dame, but he also agrees with Hord's assertion that Hord, like many incoming freshman, needs to continue to develop, and refine parts of his game.
"DJ is a great young man," Severino said. "He's well-ground, and he has two great parents that are totally behind him, and I think he's a perfect fit for Notre Dame.
"He needs to get a little more shake ability. He has to be able to get off the d-backs on those short routes. He'll learn that. He's gotten better each year he's been here, and his hands have improved each year. We've talked to him a long time about what do to about getting ready for college, and that college football wasn't going to be a picnic, but with Notre Dame it should be a great fit."
Seeing playing time next year may not be easy for Hord as the Irish have a wealth of receivers returning. But, with a new offensive system being learned by all players, not just incoming freshman, and no starting positions being guaranteed, seeing Hord play next year is realistic. Let's hope for the best, and hope that Hord's continued growth aides in Notre Dame's return to glory in the upcoming seasons.