The Irish coaching staff approved of the first impression.
"They said they really like me," Mike Gilliard said. He picked up his 20th scholarship offer on Monday, and is sporting full-rides from places like Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Michigan. "They should offer me when they come down here on April 29th."
The Notre Dame coaching staff has been in touch with Tomberlin, but have yet to talk with the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Gilliard himself. But through another coach Gilliard knows from local clinics and combines, he got hooked up with Morrice Richardson. The Irish defensive end from College Park, Ga., gave him a call a couple days ago.
"He called me," Gilliard said. "Basically he was telling me all the things he had to go through leaving out of state. He told me about the recruiting process, and he told me some good things about Notre Dame.
"He was like, I know he kept saying a degree from Notre Dame, you can do what you want in life. He said the people are great. He was telling me a lot of real good stuff about Notre Dame and the history.
"I knew about the tradition and everything. I never expected them to offer or anything, but I've always had an interest in them."
Richardson ended the conversation by telling Gilliard he can call him anytime.
In helping Valdosta to a 9-3 record and a trip to the second round of the state playoffs, Gilliard used his 4.6 speed to register 112 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions.
Gilliard, who has a 3.2 GPA and already scored a 20 on the ACT, also holds offers from Auburn, Miami, Michigan State, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, South Florida, and a few more.
"I'm a WILL, but I also played safety my sophomore year," Gilliard said. "A lot of schools are talking about me as a rover also, so either that or weak-side linebacker.
"College programs see I have a nose for the ball, and I'm real fast for a linebacker. I'm just a sideline-to-sideline player, and I make plays."
If Notre Dame decides to make a play on Gilliard and offer, he said they will likely get a visit this summer. Gilliard plans to see a lot of places over the next few months in hopes of verbally committing before his senior season. He has only been to Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida, and may check out Auburn for a scout.com combine on Sunday.
"I'm just looking for somewhere that has good academics," Gilliard said. "I want a great degree in my hands. Also, another big thing is playing time early. I want to go somewhere I can compete for playing time early."
It is regularly reported that Georgia and Georgia Tech are Gilliard's two favorites, but he said that could change.
"Those are the two programs recruiting me the hardest right now," Gilliard said.
Perhaps after recently watching his tape, Notre Dame will quickly join that mix.