A Very Pleasant Visit

While accepting his scholar-athlete award at Notre Dame's annual football banquet on Friday night, junior offensive lineman Chris Stewart said in a nutshell that he loves his school, but hates the cold.

The weather, which was snowy and below freezing this past weekend, has been something Stewart, a Klein, Texas product, has had to get used to.

Perhaps in the future, Toben Opurum will have to do the same.

The standout fullback from Plano, Texas, made an official visit to Notre Dame this past weekend.

"It was great," the 6-foot-2, 228-pound Opurum stated. "It was pretty nice I have to say.

"There is no question about me getting along with people there. This is some of the nicest people I've met in a long time. I'd have to adjust to the cold. The people are real friendly and I can see myself fitting into the offense the way they want to use me. I'd have to challenge myself, and I understand the degree I'm getting wouldn't be basket weaving 101.

"The football program is on the rise, the academics out of this world, and the facilities are great. I liked everything about it."

Opurum will eventually decide between the Irish, Florida, Kansas, Purdue and Arkansas. The visit to South Bend was his first official visit, and he already has trips scheduled to Gainesville and Lawrence.

"I liked everything that I saw at Notre Dame, but I don't want to be in love with one place after one visit," Opurum explained. "I plan on going on my other visits, and I know I'm going to like every place I visit."

Opurum is expecting Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis and assistant Rob Ianello to come by his Plano East Senior High school this coming Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, Opurum arrived in South Bend with his neighbor who is a big Irish fan, and his neighbor's son. It was their first time at Notre Dame as well.

"They were ecstatic the whole time," Opurum said. "They really enjoyed themselves."

Opurum toured the campus, met with academic-support people, and wants major in business. He then got ready for the banquet.

"The banquet was cool," Opurum said. "They had Joe Theismann there. There was a lot of cool people there."

Afterwards, Opurum caught up with his host Kapron Lewis-Moore. Also a Texas native, Lewis-Moore is a freshman defensive end for the Irish.

"Kapron is a funny guy," Opurum said. "He did a good job of welcoming me. Everyone thinks pretty highly of him. Everyone thinks he's going to be good for Notre Dame in a couple years.

"Basically he just spoke of what he's experienced there, about other schools and why he chose Notre Dame over them. He just realized the academics overpowered all of them, and the football program is going to be on the rise."

This past season, Opurum had 107 carries for 873 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 31 receptions for another 300 yards. While in town, Opurum got a chance to watch film with Ianello and offensive coordinator Mike Haywood.

"Basically, they were just showing me how they wanted to use me in the offense, and what they've been missing. I'm going to be used as a fullback. I'm more of an athletic fullback, so there is other things I can do to open up their offense a little bit more."

Opurum also got some one-on-one time with Weis.

"Basically, we just spoke about what I liked and didn't like about the place," Opurum said. "He spoke to me about what they have to offer, and how they want to use me in the offense.

"Coach Weis is a good guy and I'm glad he's still here."

Stewart also played a role in trying to lure Opurum.

"He actually gave me a ride home one night," Opurum said. "We went to Legends and he gave us a ride home. He was completely honest about what he thinks of the whole place, and he's good guy. It just goes to show you, I'm sure he had countless offers, but you'll enjoy your time there and you'll have a lot of fun, and you won't regret things."

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