The Louisville coaching changes happen at the right moment for the future of Notre Dame football. Kicker Brandon Walker had pledged to the Cardinals, but when head coach Bobby Petrino moved to the NFL, it opened the door enough for the Irish to slide in and make their case.
"With the coaching change [at Louisville] I hadn't been contacted in a week and a half," Walker recalled of his recruiting timeline. "Notre Dame just happen to contact me about two and a half weeks ago. Things evolved from there. Coach Polian came out about a week later. Then they offered a week ago from last Friday.
"My family is never going to tell me that I made a wrong choice, but what they did do is tell me that they were really happy with my thought process. When I got home [from Notre Dame] on Sunday I really didn't want to talk football, I really just wanted to take a day off. Monday after school I came home, we talked and I listed the reason why [I wanted to select Notre Dame]. I listed the things, and I think football came up once. It wasn't one of the main factors. Obviously it has a great tradition great football school, but at the same time it's my future. I explained why I wanted to go there and they were very proud of my for my thought process."
The Notre Dame coaches were hosting a junior day last weekend, but Walker felt he was given plenty of attention by the Notre Dame coaching staff during his official visit.
"I was kept away from the juniors. I only saw them on one occasion," Walker said. "I was with coach Polian a lot and Dave Peloquin, who is a great guy. I only saw coach Weis once or twice, but it really wasn't the coaching attention that got me.
"The weekend was focused on academics and that's what was really the clincher...I really didn't need the attention from the coaches. My other [official] visits were with big groups. When I was one-on-one, I felt just like a normal student. I was just another guy on campus. It was good to be one-on-one instead of being in a huge group. I got all my questions answered. We asked business school questions, questions about campus life. We asked future football questions. We were all questioned out. We asked everything.
"In asking all the questions, the thing that stuck out most was that I would be a student that just happened to play football," Walker explained. "Some other schools you're a football player that just happens to go to school. It really stood out to me that I wasn't put up on a pedestal. We're normal guys that live in dorms for three years. I don't want everyone I know being from football. I want to meet people who end up being doctors, or people who play lacrosse. I want to meet and be friends some normal guys. I want to be great friends with everyone."
Walker would likely consider himself a kicker more than a punter, but he certainly is capable of handling both duties in the future.
"Notre Dame wants me primarily as a kicker," he explained. "They aren't giving up on [Ryan] Burkhart and they shouldn't because he's a great kicker and he has great potential, otherwise he wouldn't be offered by Notre Dame. But they said the field goal and the kick-off job is worth fighting for. I've always been a kicker, and I've gotten instruction for that, but at the same time I'm built like a punter. Who knows what I'm capable of with a little instruction.
"The thing that sold me was that I had a backup plan right away. I've been kicking since fifth grade and I've had instruction on that, but I haven't for punting. Let's just say the kicking job doesn't work out for me. I would have a year to train under Geoff Price, who is up for the Ray Guy Award. With a year under him, I'll have a chance to compete for the starting spot my red-shirt freshman year.
"To be honest though, I think it would be difficult to do all three in college," Walker said on the punting kicking and field goal duties. "Right now being a kicker and punter, when I punt I kind of crossover a little bit because of my kicking motion. I would assume though if I just focused on punting that I'd be able to work that kink out. At the same time, if I had to focus on all three that it would be a little more difficult to work that out. Whatever the team wants me to do, what ever gets me on the field, whatever helps the team the most, That's what I'm going to do, that's what I'm gong to focus on."