Last week at this time Brian Smith (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) was perfectly content with the direction that his football career was headed. He was committed to Iowa, he was planning to sign with Iowa and he had no regrets. Then the unexpected happened. Notre Dame came calling. The opportunity that he had wanted since he started playing football was now a possibility.
"My dad left me out of everything really," Brian said of his recruitment by Notre Dame. "They contacted him and requested film, so my dad sent them one of highlight tapes. Then I got a call from my counselor's office and she said Notre Dame was requesting my transcripts. I called my dad and he told me that Notre Dame had offered me. Later that day I got on the phone and that is when coach Weis formally offered me a scholarship.
Although Brian was interested and excited about the offer from Notre Dame, he still felt some loyalty to Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa program.
"Over the last few days my mom and my dad were discussing what would be the best situation for me," Smith explained. "We kept coach Ferentz informed the entire time. When I got the offer I told coach Ferentz. When I told him I wanted to visit, he said if I decided to visit that we'd have to move our separate ways. My family and I talked about it some more and then spoke with coach Ferentz on Sunday. That is when I decided to take the visit and coach Ferentz decided to move on.
"Then on Monday after lunch I called coach Brown and coach Weis and committed. Coach Brown was yelling he was so excited, and coach Weis said that it was some of the best news he had all week.
"Then today (Wednesday) coach Brown sent me a text at 6:00 a.m. that said, "What can you do today that can help ND win a national championship."
Smith will need to get used to the early mornings. His head coach gets to his office much earlier, but Brian likes what coach Weis has done with the Notre Dame program.
"He's all about winning," Brian said of Charlie Weis. "He'll do whatever it takes to win and he'll get the best out of his players by sticking to his goals. He obviously knows what he's talking about or he wouldn't be in the position that he's in. He sounds like a really levelheaded guy who wants to win football games."
Notre Dame will need Smith's talent on defense. Corwin Brown is bringing the ‘3-4' front to South Bend and Smith will be a very good fit.
"I don't know if they'll play me at outside linebacker or if they'll put my hand down," Smith said. "Coach Brown said that he'd like to try me everywhere. I really like the outside position. He was showing cut-ups of the Jets' defense and I really like the outside positions. I like playing a linebacker that also rushes off the edge. I'm very excited especially after having coach Brown show me the cut-ups.
"My strengths is just having a nose for the ball. I was blessed with the ability to find the ball, react and drive off the ball carrier and get to the ball carrier. I'm a real emotional guy on the field and I think that allows me to take my game to another level."
Brian's emotions will run on high this weekend when he takes his official visit to Notre Dame as part of the 2007 recruiting class.
"I really don't need to know more about the campus, or the gameday atmosphere because I know all about that," Smith explained. "The trip is more about meeting with the professors and talking to people from the academic standpoint. I know Notre Dame is a great academic school, but it's more about talking to the people that I'll be dealing with everyday.
"I also want to hang out with the players and seeing what they do for fun. I know D.J. Hord, and I've talked to Toryan Smith a few times. I met him when I was down there for the spring game. I think he's going to be my host."
The visit will also allow his dad, Chris Smith ('81-'84), an opportunity to see his son take the steps he took 25 years earlier when he first arrived on Notre Dame's campus.
"He knows I'm making the right choice," Brian said of his dad. "He has his friends calling him up ever since they heard the news. Now that he has his son going to Notre Dame, they're saying that now they want their sons to go to Notre Dame.
"He says that Notre Dame is a great place. You meet so many new people and not just through football. You'll network with people around campus and in your class and it'll set up you up for the future."
That future will be at Notre Dame, although it nearly didn't happen.
"You just forget about it for a while," he said of his dream to play at Notre Dame. "Things don't always happen in your favor. It happened. I moved on and I accepted another offer. Now it's an opportunity. It's hard to have that offer on the table and not take it."
With the opportunity in hand is there any way Brian doesn't sign with the Irish next Wednesday?
"No chance," he replied.