Notre Dame had to hit a home run with Chris Donald (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and his family during their recent unofficial visit. It isn't that Chris wasn't interested in the Irish, and it isn't that he didn't expect Notre Dame to be well rounded. What may have impressed him the most was how comfortable he felt on campus.
"It went great. I had a great time," Donald said of his visit to Notre Dame. "My parents had a great time. They were impressed with everything that they had to offer, and my cousin had a great time. I'm going to have a hard decision coming up. It's going to be harder than I thought...it's going to be real hard. They're even."
"I really wasn't surprised. I kind of knew it was coming, but I just liked everything about Notre Dame; the coaches, the school's not too big, the players are great -- I spent some time with them. The academic part of it is great as everyone knows and the athletics are coming up.
"It's a family atmosphere in South Bend," Donald said. "I can tell the town revolves around the football team. Everyone seems to know who you are, and I'm sure it's real crazy on gameday."
A great part of the image of Notre Dame is the players that are currently on campus and Charlie Weis uses them to sell his program.
"I met Brady Quinn," Donald replied when asked which players he met during his visit. "I met the starting linebacker, No. 40 Maurice Crum. I met some of the freshmen, and they said that Notre Dame shoots straight with you and that they deliver, so you can't beat that.
"I met most of the coaches. I talked to coach Minter. He's a great guy. He seems like a great coach and I'd love to be coached by him."
On the way up to South Bend Chris and his parents stopped off to pick up an extra visitor.
"My cousin lives in Paducah, Kentucky and he's a Notre Dame fan. He was won over as soon as he stepped on campus. He'd seen the campus before, but he didn't get to see everything that goes along with it. He played on a [St. Louis] Cardinal minor league team a while back, and he said they played at the baseball stadium in South Bend."
Tennessee had a big lead going into Chris' visit and he had been planning to decide by the end of this week. Now that Chris had a chance to see Notre Dame, he's going to push his decision back a little bit.
"I'm still thinking," Chris said of his pending decision. "It's going to be two weeks at the least and probably a month at the most. If it gets too hard, I might have to take official visits to see which one I like better. I'm going to try to do it in two weeks though."
As a junior Donald recorded 120 tackles, 14 sacks, 32 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and an interception. Offensively, he rushed for 1,637 yards, had 287 receiving yards and scored 27 touchdowns.