Irish Impress James

The Notre Dame football program didn't do anything to hurt its standing with Matt James.

After a one-day visit this past Saturday, the Irish may have improved their chances of landing the outstanding four-star offensive tackle from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Earlier this month, the 6-foot-7, 285-pound James, told Irish Eyes that he is still keeping all of his options open, but that Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Cincinnati have emerged as his leaders. This past weekend, James got a better look at the Irish campus, making the trip with his parents.

"I saw the campus, took a tour of the campus, met with a academic advisor, met the new offensive line coach, liked him a lot," Matt James began. It was his second trip to Notre Dame. He visited for the Pittsburgh game last fall. "I got a chance to talk to coach (Charlie) Weis personally.

"It was a nice time."

Heading into his third year as a starter at St. Xavier High, James has also racked up scholarship offers from the likes of Florida, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee and North Carolina. Weis was able to make a pitch to James about why Notre Dame would be a nice place for him.

"We just chatted for awhile," James said. "He compared St. X to Notre Dame, and how it would be a good fit for me going from St. X to Notre Dame. He talked about how they graduate both their right and left tackles after this season, and a lot of other o-linemen, so the potential for early playing time is there. He said it's not for sure, but there is a chance. He said the best players play, so there is a potential chance there."

One that James thinks is an enticing one.

Notre Dame offensive line coach Frank Verducci has been sending James letters, and the two met for the first time on Saturday.

"I liked him a lot," James said. "I thought he did a good job coaching the o-line. Some of the drills he did I liked a lot. I thought he was really positive with the guys.

"When I was talking to him personally, he seemed like a really nice guy."

James' family lives in the same neighborhood as Irish sophomore-to-be tight end Kyle Rudolph's. James, Rudolph, Mike Golic Jr., Braxston Cave and a couple other Notre Dame players went out to lunch together.

"The players seemed like really nice guys and I could see myself fitting into the campus and the lifestyle," James said.

During practice, James also spent a lot of time off to the side talking with injured offensive lineman Trevor Robinson.

"I was just asking him what the plays were, because they were signaling in the plays," James said. "I was just trying to pick up things, like what the pass pro was, and understand where to look."

James has plenty of other schools he still needs to look at before he makes a college decision. This spring, James is looking to visit Vanderbilt, LSU, the schools in the Carolinas while on vacation, and Ohio State again before trimming his list of favorites. He'd like to make a decision before the start of his senior season, but James said he's not going to rush anything.


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