Notre Dame hadn't been recruiting Ben Habern (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) long, but when they did, his recruitment moved rapidly.
"A couple weeks before I went up there, [Notre Dame] started sending letters to me," Habern said of his contact with Notre Dame. "My dad called coach Ianello and talked to him for a while and [Ianello] invited us to their junior day. I figured that we should make the trip to see everything, so we went up there.
"The junior day started at 10:30, but the [Notre Dame] coaches wanted us to get there about 9:30 to talk and hang out. I talked to the defensive line coach, coach Oliver and the defensive coordinator for a while. They were giving us a tour and coach Oliver pulled me aside and took me to coach Weis' office, and that's when coach Weis offered me.
"[Weis] gave me my scholarship letter and talked to my parents. It was really fun getting to know him better. He was really big on academics. That's really important to me because I go to a private school and we're pretty big on academics.
"He said he was more impressed with me on the defensive side of the ball," Habern explained. "He said they wanted me to play defensive end.
"Coach Oliver is the one who is pretty much recruiting me. We sat down and talked to him for a while at the junior day. He's a real cool guy. I like him a lot. It was cool talking to him about the defensive line and what he expects from everybody."
After meeting with the coaches, Habern had a chance to take a tour of the campus. He hadn't ever been to Notre Dame, but there were some sights that he recognized.
"I saw the movie ‘Rudy' so it was cool seeing the tunnel and all that stuff," Habern commented. "I touched the sign at the top of the stairs that had the leprechaun, and then I touched the one all the way down the stairs that said ‘Play Like A Champion Today'. My dad got pictures of me standing by it.
"I thought it was awesome...I had a really fun time. It was really cool seeing the campus and the football program and all that stuff. What really made an impression on me were the facilities and all stuff that they had. The weight room and all the facilities are all top-notch. The ‘Gug' and all the facilities were great. Seeing the stadium and the locker room and all the tradition was awesome."
Although Notre Dame just began recruiting Habern, the delay really isn't an issue for him. In fact, there are a number of national programs that have also started to take notice of him.
"My first fours offers were from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech," Habern said. "Those are schools that are just around here. Now I'm starting to get the attention nationally from Notre Dame, Miami, Florida, and Florida State. They're all showing interest in me. It's kind of given me a new perspective.
"I've been an Oklahoma fan my whole life and that's where I've always wanted to go, but now that I've gotten seven offers and a lot more colleges are looking at me I want to take a look at the other schools. I'm actually going to Florida in a couple weeks just to visit the school.
"I've got a lot of choices to choose from, but I really haven't decided where I want to go," Habern said. "This has opened a whole new perspective for me. I need to sit down with my parents and figure out what the best place is for me, the best place for me to play and the best academics. It hasn't changed the timing of my decision, because I definitely want to decide before the summer starts."
Habern's offers are from Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Miami, Notre Dame, and Arizona. He named his top five schools, in no particular order, as Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas A&M, and Miami. Notre Dame would like to see Habern work on the defensive side of the ball, but there are others that want him on the offensive line.
"A bunch of coaches have said they want me for offensive side of the ball and that I have a really good frame for a center," Habern explained. "Notre Dame, Miami and Oklahoma State have said that I could be a good defensive player.
"I honestly enjoy defense line more. It's a fun position. You get to hit people and make tackles and all that stuff. Defensive tackle is a position where your responsibility is basically to get the tackle. It seems like you can be more aggressive on defense, because all you have to do is make the tackle or knock out the guy in front of you.
"I've always played the offensive line," he said. "I always played guard or tackle. My freshmen year I started on varsity at tackle and then my sophomore year I started at guard. I had never played defense until my junior year. I start both ways that year. I started at guard and defensive tackle. My junior year is when everything kind of exploded. I guess when I started working out and training real hard and got the chance to play both ways that I became a really good defensive player."
As a junior, Habern made 55 tackles, nine sacks and 25 tackles for a loss. On offense he had approximately 100 pancakes at offensive guard.