Stone Receives Southern Hospitality at ND

Outside of Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday afternoon, little kids, teenagers, and a few adults, stood around James Stone, asking for the four-star offensive tackle's autograph.

The quiet and reserved James Stone wasn't sure if Irish fans had the right guy.

"It was flattering," the 6-foot-5, 295-pound Nashville product said. "I was kind of laughing. At first I didn't think they were serious, like they thought I was somebody else."

Notre Dame fans knew exactly who Stone was. He's one of the Irish coaching staff's top priorities at the offensive tackle position, and they wanted the Maplewood High standout to feel wanted.

"There was a few kids out there with balls and posters and stuff," Stone said. "They had the Rivals and Scout pages, and they'd ask you to sign a page. That kind of surprised me a lot. I didn't know regular people kept all that."

Charlie Weis and the rest of the Notre Dame coaching staff would like to see Stone's signature on a letter-of-intent next February. Stone was offered a scholarship in early January, and was hoping to visit the campus for the first time later that month. After that trip fell through, Stone was finally able to make it up to South Bend for the spring game with his head coach Ralph Thompson.

"I enjoyed it," Stone said. He also has scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn, California and Stanford. "It was very hospitable. I enjoyed getting to see their campus for the first time and watch their team play.

"It was something different. I have never seen a campus that is built like this, organized like this. They have so many landmark icons on campus."

Stone thought he got a good look at the team during the Blue-Gold game.

"I feel like the team is going in a positive direction," Stone said. "I liked the offense. It looked like everyone was getting good reps."

Stone then got some good time with Weis.

"He was just telling me about the program, and how they look for good people to be in their program, and that I'm a good person and would be a good fit for their program."

Before the trip, Stone was really looking forward to meeting offensive line coach Frank Verducci.

"He was just telling me he liked my overall drive, my footwork, and he liked how I play on film, and that I could come in and be a good lineman and help their team," Stone explained. "He likes just how I play the game, and he said he could help mold that and make me better. And that's how I play, I'm just trying to get better."

In the stands during the game, Stone got a chance to meet and talk with future Irish offensive lineman Alex Bullard, who is from nearby Franklin, Tenn.

"He just felt like he couldn't wait to get to (Notre Dame)."

After the game, Stone hung out with another player from Tennessee, Golden Tate, and a few other guys on the team.

"He just felt like it's good for me to come up and represent Nashville," Stone said. "It looks like he's having a good time playing football here and getting better.

"I'm not really considering distance. It makes me feel more comfortable that I have people I have something in common with already, and if they're going back to Nashville, I could ride with them. It gives you extra security that you have people from where you come from here."

Stone won't make his college decision until the fall. He is still considering all of his options, but Notre Dame has definitely left an impression.

"A lot of schools are increasing their stock," Stone said. "I'm really trying to figure out what schools are going to be priority schools for me. They just have to be a good program going in a positive direction, with positive people around it.

"Right now, I'm seriously considering Notre Dame as one of the schools. They're up there. When I go down to make my final decision, I'm still going to be considering Notre Dame." Top Stories