With the departure of director of player development, Jimmy Gonzales, to Oklahoma State, new Irish coach Charlie Weis was looking for just the right fit to fill this crucial role.
The position calls for interaction with both players and recruits, and after having one of the most publicized careers ever while at Notre Dame, and also being one of the most highly decorated recruits to ever enroll at Notre Dame, Ron Powlus certainly understands what it's like to be an Irish player and top recruit. Weis found his perfect match.
"I think it's something I've identified as a passion in my life. When I got done playing and decided to stop trying with the NFL and got into the business world, I enjoyed it and had some success. But I think I just started to realize my passion lies with football," said Powlus of why he chose to come back to Notre Dame.
"The timing of that realization came at the timing of the changeover here. If I was going to get back into it, what a perfect time to try. I didn't know what was going to come of it, and I was probably like a lot of other alumni that called up and said ‘I want to help.' It turned out there was a spot for me to fit into it."
Powlus played in a number of big games under former coaches Lou Holtz and Bob Davie, and he also broke over 20 Irish records as a quarterback for the Irish. It was the electrifying atmosphere of college football that brought him back to Notre Dame.
"I miss the intensity of it--the sites, the sounds of college football, and Saturday's on Notre Dame campus. It doesn't get any better than that," Powlus said. "I have a chance to be a part of that again and it was a no-brainer."
As a former player and a former top recruit, Powlus says he feels he has a unique perspective into the life of a Notre Dame player that not many can offer.
"I think one of the reasons I'm even in this position is because I'm a former player," the former four-year starter said. "I know coach Weis talked about filling this position with a former player. From my perspective, or this position's perspective, I can talk to a recruit or a current player and not have to say ‘I think it's like this.'
"You can actually speak from experience because I know what it's like to have a test on Thursday, and practice on Friday and USC on Saturday. It's a unique atmosphere around here, and I do have that experience. I do think that's why coach wanted a former player in this position, to be a resource to the current players, and to help in that regard in recruiting."
The Berwick, Pa. native says the director of player development position has many roles.
"A lot of what I'm doing is recruiting, and this is a busy recruiting season right now. I can't call anybody, I can't go on the road, I can't evaluate players, but I can help organize our message," he said.
"Coming from being a student athlete here with a marketing degree, and going into the professional sales world for a few years and having different experiences that way, recruiting is marketing and sales. To combine those two things is a lot of what I'm doing.
"Trying to create some messages, organizing our thoughts, creating different mailing schedules, things like that. But at the same time I think coach wants me to be available to the current players as a resource that's not a coach--just somebody that knows what they're going through and what it's like."
Powlus said the idea of someday getting back into college football started to hit him last summer when coaching at the Notre Dame fantasy camp.
"I was back on campus for the first time to actually spend some time last summer with the fantasy camp," he said. "It was a great experience because it gave me a little time on campus without having a schedule, and without having an agenda. I had a chance to walk around, and it was the first time since I left that had that opportunity to kind of reminisce. That was a good experience."
Reminisce is something Powlus says he couldn't help but do when he first returned to Notre Dame.
"You walk on the field and go ‘I remember a play from this yard line and this yard line, everywhere I go it brings back a memory," Powlus said with a laugh.
"I do, I remember just about everything," said Powlus when asked if he remembered most of the plays, and where he made them in Notre Dame Stadium. "There's a lot of great memories that I have on this field and this place, and I remember a lot of it."
Now Powlus' job will be to share his experiences, both good and bad, with prospective recruits. After all, not many will come in with as much fanfare as Powlus did on that August day in 1994.
"I think I do a fair job of communicating the experience I had, and that's what a lot of recruiting is," Powlus said. "I feel like that I'm in that position now to relate my experiences to those that are looking to have that same experience here."