A lot of college football fans thought Dayne Crist (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) would avoid a crowded quarterback depth chart and find a school where he could waltz in and own the starting job just by showing up. Instead the quarterback from Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) opted to walk into a competitive quarterback situation at Notre Dame.
Two month after his commitment, the size of Notre Dame's 2008 recruiting class has doubled and Crist is excited to see the list of top defensive players that want to be part of the Notre Dame program begin to grow.
"It's definitely good to know that they're playing for you rather than against you," Crist said of the recent defenders the Irish added to their recruiting class. "They're going to just help the team turn the defense around and help us win some championships.
"When you look back at all the great championship team throughout the history of sports, all the teams have great defenses. Being an offensive player I love to go out and score points, but it is true, defense wins championships. Having a great defense takes a lot of pressure off the offense and everything just runs more smoothly.
"It's exciting being a part of this class," Crist said. "It's an ideal situation to be able to surround yourself with all these guys and know that you're building this program. It's going to be exciting in the future and we're going to be a team to compete with and I'm real excited about it.
"I try to stay in touch with all the guys. I'll shoot them a text from time to time. It's nice to start building relationships now and it's nice to know that you're going to be spending the next four or five years with these guys. When you have a relationship this as early it makes things more fun. You can follow their senior years and all that, so it's fun.
"I keep in contact with Joe [Fauria] and I'm trying to find time to throw with him," Crist said of his future tight end. "If we can start working together two years early that would be huge. I think we're both trying to go out and try to improve, and get a workout in. We both have some downtime coming up with our breaks in football. We both want to continue to work and improve."
The May evaluation period is now over. Despite the fact that Crist has pledged to the Irish, he was flooded with coaches trying to draw his attention their way.
"Early on it was tough because a lot of coaches were coming by," Crist explained. "I think it comes down to understanding that you have to be cordial and have respect for these guys. Obviously I'm 100 percent committed to Notre Dame and that is not changing under any circumstance, but if people are coming to your school to see you, you have to be polite and show them the respect that they're showing you. It's kind of cooled off now.. Just letting them know that I was committed has helped out. I still receive some text messages, and some coaches stopped in before the end of the recruiting period. That's over now and going into summer I think I can focus on the season and I'm real excited.
"I'm very happy that I made my decision early. I think making an early decision took a lot of pressure of me. I know that the recruiting process is unique. It's exciting that all these coaches are interested in you and every day is your birthday. Everyone is trying to put on their best front for you. It's very flattering, and I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed the recruiting process and everything, but at the same time it is very stressful. You have to balance so many things; school, football, lifting running coaches, and homework. I'm glad that I was able to make a very educated decision and a decision that I'm absolutely thrilled with. It's over and I have all the pressures of recruiting lifted off my shoulders, so I'm just very thankful for that.
"I do stay in contact with Notre Dame," Crist said. "Coach Polian is my recruiter, so I text with him once a week. I just gave him a call on Sunday, so I keep in contact with the coaching staff fairly regularly. Coach Weis made his [May] phone call Memorial Day weekend. Then Coach Weis was on the road recruiting in May, but I still received text messages from him. I still feel that same warm feeling about Notre Dame that I had when I was up there."
Crist won't have much time this summer to think about his future team. He will be working with his current teammates and negotiating a very hectic schedule.
"We had a pretty productive spring and a lot of guys stepped up, so we're pretty excited," Crist said of his spring practice at his high school. "We start summer ball June 11. It's still shorts and t-shirts. We start summer practice, lifting, running and everything. Between days we have passing leagues with seven-on-seven. We have seven-on-seven tournaments on the weekends and that pretty much takes up all of my summer. We have a two week break right before August and then we start up with pads and two-a-days right after that.
"Before we go on our break I have the Elite 11 camp July 23-26. I'm mixing in a lot of stuff, but I'm real excited. I haven‘t gotten a chance to go out and watch it the Elite 11, but I've been a huge fan since I was in middle school. They televised it one year so I was able to follow guys like Mark Sanchez and Nate Longshore. I'm biased toward the Southern California quarterbacks, so I was rooting for all of them.
"It's huge. It's a fun event," Dayne said. "You get some of the best coaching in the nation. You get to compete and have fun and that's really what its all about. Putting yourself in all the different competitions and surrounding yourself with such competitive guys is only going to make you better. It's great receiving all these accolades, and being invited to all these things, but you're still nowhere near where you need to be. Knowing that there is so much that you need to improve on is important and having that mindset and going out and sizing yourself up with some of the best in the nation is what it's all about."
…and in the end that is what brought Dayne Crist to Notre Dame.