"Before we went to Notre Dame, I thought the campus was really small and really old, because it's been around for a long time, but it was actually a beautiful campus, and it was big too," Khairi Fortt explained.
"I was really surprised at what I saw. A lot of new buildings, a lot of new construction that will be done when I get there, if I go there."
Plenty of people in South Bend are hoping so.
This past weekend, the four-star linebacker from Stamford (Conn.) High made his first-ever visit to Notre Dame. Fortt arrived on Friday with his father, and left shortly after Saturday's Blue-Gold game.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Fortt holds scholarship offers from the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, Florida and of course Notre Dame. He claims no favorites, but is glad he had a chance to evaluate the Irish program.
"It was a good experience," Fortt said. "I finally got to see Touchdown Jesus, and talk to some of the players, hung out with them the night before the spring game. I know the competition is cool up there. The offense and defense were going at it talking junk.
"I went through all the facilities. I met coach (Charlie) Weis definitely, and talked to him. Very nice guy, very honest guy. He was straight forward, and that's what I like in a coach. I talked to my position coach and the strength coach. I talked to academic advisors, and everyone was real warming.
"The spring game was fun. When I first got there, the fans knew who I was. I signed a lot of little kid autographs. It was a great experience. That was very unbelievable. People were shouting my name in the stands. A lot of people knew me because I was hanging out with Chris Martin, Spencer Boyd and Lo Wood at the game. They were all just coming up to us and saying hey Khairi sign my hat."
Fortt realized that autograph won't mean much if he doesn't end up going to Notre Dame. He'd like to make his decision before the start of his senior year.
Fortt really enjoyed his conversation with Weis.
"We were basically talking about, he was saying why they gave me a scholarship," Fortt explained. "He was saying he thought I was a great kid. He's talked to a lot of people from around my area, and they said I'm more than a great athlete, I'm a great kid and they care about me. Also, he said they don't offer everyone, they want kids that are well rounded and presentable, and could represent Notre Dame."
Fortt also got a chance to sit down with Irish defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Jon Tenuta.
"At first, he was a little shallow with his words," Fortt said. "He didn't really say much. He seemed like a real serious guy. We asked a few linebackers and defensive players and stuff about him, and they said he loves football and knows what he's talking about. It's nothing bad about him.
"He was saying that I could definitely play anywhere. I could play the Will, probably not the Mike, but the outside linebacker spots, just depending on how much bigger I get or my speed right now, if I get faster or slower. But right now, I seem like an outside guy. He said 80 percent of the time they'll be blitzing, so I'll be coming."
The blitzing part fired up Fortt. As a junior, Fortt had 118 tackles and two interceptions, with one he ran back for a touchdown. Fortt also added five rushing touchdowns, coming in mostly on goal-line situations.
Fortt and his father are beginning to build a great relationship with Irish assistant coach Corwin Brown.
"We talked to him and email him a lot," Fortt said. "Very nice guy. He and my dad were talking the whole night before the spring game. He's very inspirational."
The night before the spring game, Fortt hung out with Irish offensive lineman Chris Stewart. He got a chance to talk with assistant coach Ron Powlus, who told him he'd be visiting Stamford High sometime soon.
"I'm just evaluating everybody right now," Fortt said. "Trying to see where everybody fits and where I fit with everyone. I'll definitely be checking Notre Dame out."