Before a verbal commitment somewhere is made, Christian Lombard will have a lot to decipher through. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound, Fremd High standout, has racked up scholarship offers from places like Notre Dame, Michigan, Iowa, Stanford, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska and North Carolina.
Lombard is already working diligently towards making a decision, taking visits to schools and talking with coaching staffs. On Thursday evening, Lombard and his father visited Notre Dame for the third time since this past summer. The two arrived around four in the afternoon, and left at 10 or 11.
"Honestly, I'm pretty interested in them." Lombard said of Notre Dame. He camped in South Bend, and also visited for the Michigan game. "One thing I wanted to do, was start talking to the players at schools I like, and see what they really think about it because they're the ones that have to go through it everyday."
Lombard got to do just that.
Following Notre Dame's bowl practice in preparation for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Lombard spent a couple hours with freshman offensive guard Trevor Robinson, and his classmate Sean Cwynar, a defensive lineman from Woodstock, Ill.
"We just hung out," Lombard said. "I asked them a ton of questions. I went back to their room and basically picked their brains. My major question was if you can make this decision again, would you choose Notre Dame? And they said absolutely yes, so it was pretty reassuring.
"They just reiterated that hopefully they'll be really good next year, and the education and what a degree from Notre Dame means, it's just really special."
Before practice, Lombard met with Notre Dame's strength and conditioning coordinator Ruben Mendoza.
"He was just telling me what they do program wise for their offensive linemen, and his philosophies, and a lot of the stuff he implicates I already do, so I liked that."
Then it was off to Notre Dame's final practice in South Bend before flying out to Honolulu.
"I liked it a lot," Lombard said. "It was kind of a slow tempo practice because they had to leave the next day, but they got a lot of work done. Obviously it was kind of a lighter hitting practice, and some of the guys had to leave for exams halfway through practice, so they let them leave for that, so it shows they care about their education and not just football."
During practice, head coach Charlie Weis made his way over to talk with Lombard.
"He was just telling me why Notre Dame was a great place, even if he wasn't going to be there, why it would be a good place to come," Lombard explained. He was just saying it's not just about the football, it's about your education. He feels like it's a perfect fit for me."
Notre Dame assistant coach Rob Ianello has dropped by Lombard's school a couple times over the last few weeks. Offensive line coach John Latina has also made an appearance. The Irish program isn't the only school letting their presence be known around Fremd. Coaches from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Virginia have all been by.
This past season, Lombard helped Fremd finish 9-3 before losing in the second round of the state playoffs. He did not allow a sack all fall.
Lombard will visit Iowa this weekend and then take it easy through the holiday. On Jan. 3rd, he'll be in San Antonio for the U.S. Army National Underclassmen Combine.
Lombard said he could be back at Notre Dame for a junior day on Jan. 24th.