Heading up to Notre Dame Brandon Newman (6-foot-1, 305 pounds) didn't really know what to expect. He came with an open mind and left with strong impression of the Irish program.
"It was a good experience," Newman responded when asked about his unofficial visit to Notre Dame. "When we first got there, me and my family met with coach Brown, coach Weis and coach Oliver. We met with the academic people and checked out every part of the campus. They took us to the church on campus and it was just beautiful.
"At first we were in the meeting room and that's when we met with the coaches. Then we walked around campus. All the facilities were beautiful. They were the best I've seen. We went to the practice locker room and then we went to the game locker room and walked down the stairs and out onto the field. You could just feel the tradition. I slapped the sign at the top of the stairs three times and slapped the one at the bottom of the stairs.
"It was way more than I expected it to be," Newman said. "I guess I thought it would be a normal visit, but it was so much more than that. Everything was great. They really seemed like they wanted me there."
After watching the Irish practice, Newman had a chance to speak with several of the Notre Dame players.
"After practice the players walked up to me and introduced themselves," Newman explained. "They all came at one time, but I did get a chance to talk to Victor Abiamiri, the defensive lineman that's just about to graduate. He a big guy, but he's the nicest guy. He's real humble. The first thing Victor said to me when he saw me was, ‘That's going to be our nose guard.' It was good to hear that from someone as important to the program as he is. It was great that he knows about a recruit, a junior in high school. He talked to me about why he made his decision to go there and how he was going through the process of getting ready for the NFL draft.
"I talked to Demetrius Jones, the quarterback. He's a great guy. We hit it off real well and we exchanged phone numbers. I met Sean [Cwynar], Braxston [Cave] and Darius [Fleming] and we exchanged contact information. It's just a big family feeling. Coming up I didn't know if I'd feel comfortable and that was my biggest concern, but I was definitely comfortable.
"Notre Dame is a big name and you don't expect the players to be so humble and down to earth, but that's exactly what they were like," Newman said. "They showed how important they were to each other.
"Coach Brown and coach Oliver made sure I was involved and paid attention to my position. They talked about what I could bring to the program. I enjoyed the practice a lot. One of things that I liked the most was how disciplined it was. When the coaches were talking the players listened and they weren't goofing off. The only people that were talking were the coaches."
Before Newman and his family headed home, they had an opportunity to speak with Charlie Weis one-on-one.
"We all sat down with coach Weis," Newman said. "I was real comfortable. We just laughed and talked some business. It was a great experience. I guess I didn't expect him to be a personable as he was. He was great. After practice He called me over to watch the kickers kick. We talked and he told me about the future of the program… we really just talked about everything. He was way more personable than I thought he would be.
"I told him that I'd be up there again, definitely. I talked to my parents about everything. My parents aren't easily impressed, but they were really impressed with everything. They could see me playing for Notre Dame as well.
"I was just real comfortable and I don't have anything bad to say about it," Newman said. When it comes to the pros and cons, there wasn't anything but pros."