Expectations Met

Before Chris Bonds, his mother and stepfather left South Bend on Monday morning from their official visit to Notre Dame, Irish defensive coordinator Corwin Brown asked if there were any negatives from the trip.

"My mom is usually on top of everything, and she couldn't come up with any negatives," the four-star defensive end from Columbia, S.C. said.

Neither could Chris Bonds.

"Even though it rained, I still had a good time, driving on campus, going to the bookstore, meeting all the coaches, they all welcomed me with open arms.

"It was an awesome visit."

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Bonds arrived at Notre Dame early Saturday morning, and took in the Irish's 35-17 victory over rival Michigan.

"They played together as a team, offense, defense everything, and (Jimmy) Clausen to be honest, Clausen is one of my favorite college quarterbacks," Bonds explained. "Him and (Mark) Sanchez, and it was cool to see him in real life."

Bonds was hosted by Notre Dame sophomore cornerback Gary Gray, a prep teammate of his at Richland Northeast High. Gray of course had an interception late in the game that he nearly ran back for a touchdown.

"I was excited," Bonds stated. "After the game, wherever we were eating dinner, he was big headed and I was like you better calm down. You're still the goofy dude I remember.

"He was just telling me how he fits in here. Coach (Corwin) Brown told me (Gary) was going to get playing time before the game, and I was excited to see him play. On the sideline I talked to him while he was doing stretches before the game, because he was right next to where I was standing, so I was talking to him, taking pictures. He just looks like he's doing productive things here."

Bonds was thinking perhaps he could maybe do the same, but there is still a long ways to go until he makes a verbal commitment to a lucky college program. Besides the Irish, Bonds is still considering Michigan, Tennessee, USC, South Carolina and Alabama. This was his first official visit, and the only other one he has setup at this time is for the Crimson Tide-Volunteers game in Knoxville the weekend of Oct. 25th.

"That's kind of what I've been picturing," Bonds said of himself at Notre Dame. "Every time we go somewhere, go into the bookstore whatever, walking around campus and seeing people running and riding bikes, especially today, it's nice today, it's relaxed and respectful, dignified, and I kind of respected that too. I talked to the admissions guys and like he said, this is what they strive for and they get it done."

Bonds gets it done on the football field.

As a junior, he had 70 tackles and five sacks as a junior, before an ACL injury ended his season in the 10th game. Bonds is completely healthy now, and has faced double and triple teams on nearly every play, as Richland Northeast is off to a 1-2 start. Bonds has 10 solos, three tackles for loss, a sack, and several assists.

Joining Bonds, Gray and company at dinner, was former Notre Dame player and College Football Hall of Famer Chris Zorich, who was a part of the 1988 National Championship team that was honored before kickoff of the Michigan game.

"We talked to him for like three hours at Ruth's Chris (Steakhouse), and we talked to him for a long time about everything. It was just you know, I had fun. We didn't realize we were there for three hours. We got there at seven and didn't leave until 10:30, 11. It was just fun.

"He told me about his mom and all that other stuff, and I was like wow. I don't even know what to say about that. I was like geez."

Bonds got some one-on-one time with Irish head coach Charlie Weis on Sunday.

"He was laid up," Bond said. Weis tore his ACL and MCL when Irish defensive end John Ryan was pushed into him on the sideline from behind during a play in Saturday's game. "I told him it looked like he had seen better days. He had some Advil on the table. I said coach you look beat up, and he said they keep me here for my mind and not my body.

"We reminisced about how he used to go out at Lake Murray (Weis began his coaching career at nearby South Carolina), and fish and stuff. I've been there.

"He didn't really tell me anything about the school, not because he didn't want to, but since it's my first time up here, he wanted me to take things as I saw them. The only thing yesterday when we talked one-on-one, he told me it speaks for itself. You either like it or you don't. That's kind of what happened."

And Bonds did like it.

"I kind of had a high expectations for it, but I did enjoy it a lot. We joked about how it was good and bad luck. They had a big win, but it was raining. But it was all good. It didn't bother me that much. I still had a good time."

Travel and distance wasn't a problem for Bonds.

"That was kind of the question most of the coaches were asking me throughout the visit, was coming up here a problem," Bonds explained. "I told them distance isn't a problem anywhere, whether it's here, Southern Cal, Michigan or right down the street at South Carolina."

Last night, Bonds got to spend time with Notre Dame defensive line coach Jappy Oliver, and caught up with Brown on Monday before heading out.

"I met with coach Oliver yesterday for a long time," Bonds began. "I didn't watch film with coach Oliver because we got so deep into conversation about me. But we definitely talked about some of the players they have now, some of the guys they'll be losing, and coach Brown said I should feel positive about getting playing time early and getting a great advantage with their team. And I was excited about that."

A big college football fan, Bonds was in awe of being at the Notre Dame-Michigan game.

"As far as the game goes, it was exciting. The rain held off for awhile. that's probably when the game was at its best. The first quarter was exciting. The crowd, the students and the leprechaun dude was running around in front of me, that was crazy, he looked just like a leprechaun. And Gary had his pick, and to see Clausen and see two powerhouses play each other, I told coach Weis I watch this game on TV every year, and now I'm here in South Bend in person."

Maybe at some point, Bonds will be in South Bend permanently.


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