At Notre Dame's junior day Feb. 24, the standout linebacker from Meridian, Idaho and his dad, got to see the real thing.
"I thought it was really cool to get to see that and pound on it," Darren Markle said.
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Markle has been offered by Washington State. Heavy interest is coming from Washington, Oregon, Boise State, Stanford, BYU, Northwestern and the Irish.
At Notre Dame's junior day, Markle found out the Irish like him at inside linebacker, and he is expecting assistant coach Rob Ianello to come by his school in the near future.
"I thought it was a great place," Markle said of Notre Dame's campus. "You see all the stuff on TV and everything, all the tradition and everything, it's just an amazing place. I've always thought highly of Notre Dame.
"Obviously the education is important there. If you get a degree from Notre Dame, you're going to be able to use that throughout the country and you're going to be set for life. There is only about 8,000 undergrads at Notre Dame, so you'll be able to get more personal attention from the teachers and professors at the school, and that is important also."
In 10 games this past fall, Markle registered 108 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles, helping lead Mountain View High into the state playoffs. He is arguably the top player in the state, in the recruiting class of 2009.
"A lot of what the college coaches talk about is my strength around the field, that I'd have a chance to play early because I'd be able to handle the physical aspect of playing college football," Markle explained. "Another thing Washington State said about me, is I'm able to run around the field and get to the ball fast. I look fast."
There is no doubting Markle's strength.
Markle's father was a power lifting National Champion while attending BYU. His mother also golfed for the Cougars, and Markle's older sister is on a full scholarship for gymnastics at Utah State.
At a young age, Markle's father had him lifting weights. It progressed into power lifting, and last year, Markle won his age class at the U.S. National Championships held in Louisiana. He bench pressed 340 pounds, squatted 530, and had a deadlift of 530.
"With that total, I broke the national record that had been standing for 10 years or so."
Markle has since taken time off from power lifting to focus on football camps and combine stuff. His bench press has gotten up to 375, and he ran a 4.59 second 40-yard dash at a Nike Combine held in Houston.
The same weekend Markle visited Notre Dame, he also tripped to Northwestern. He has been to Boise State and BYU as well. He will be going back to Boise State this week, will be heading to Washington State and Oregon in the near future, and is also scheduled to see Stanford.
Markle, who has a 3.85 GPA, and already scored a 23 on the ACT, is not sure when he'll make a college decision.
"It's a little too early," he said. "I haven't got a chance to visit all the campuses and meet all the coaches that I want to. I'd obviously have to put Notre Dame up there as one of my favorites.
"Obviously a good education is really important and a great football program. Being able to play in front of a great crowd of people. Obviously Notre Dame Stadium is pretty amazing, going inside there, it's amazing. Playing somewhere with a lot of tradition would be really nice."
Next season Markle's father will keep the tradition of writing his son inspirational notes. The last line will likely read the same way.