"It Was Ten Times Better Than I Expected."

Notre Dame added offensive tackle prospect Tate Nichols from Ryle High School (Union, Ky.) to their 2010 recruiting class today. Nichols is the 19th member of the class and he is the third prospect in this year's recruiting class that was originally committed to the Stanford Cardinal. The other two, wide receiver Tai-ler Jones and safety Chris Badger have already enrolled at Notre Dame.

The target list for offensive linemen was getting rather thin. Christian Lombard had been the only offensive lineman the Irish had a commitment from until this morning when Tate Nichols (6-foot-7, 279-pounds) told Irish head coach Brian Kelly and new Irish offensive line coach Ed Warinner that he wanted to be a part of the Notre Dame tradition.

"We opened up my recruitment (in December) a little bit, and I knew coach Kelly was up at Notre Dame," Nichols recalled. "At that time he really didn't have a staff, so I was able to call him and luckily I was able to get in touch with him. I told him I was interested and he said that he was interested as well.

"After that, I didn't hear from him for awhile. Finally I got a call on Wednesday night from the offensive line coach, coach Warinner. He said that he was really interested and wanted to schedule an in-home visit next Tuesday. I was supposed to go on my official visit to Stanford this weekend, but we decided to cancel that. We called coach Warinner and told him that I wanted to come up and see the campus this weekend.

"I got up to Notre Dame on Friday afternoon," Tate said. "I had a chance to sit down with coach Warinner and meet him face to face. We talked about football and life, and school and all that kind of stuff; we just got to know each other a little better. After that we took a campus tour, and while we were taking the tour the coaches were watching my film. When I got back, I sat down with coach Kelly in his office. At that time, he offered me a scholarship and said that I needed to meet with the admissions people in the morning, just to make sure I could get admitted. When I got back to the coaches office I told coach Warinner that I was going to commit and then I called coach Kelly and told him that I wanted to commit."

Between the time Nichols visited with Notre Dame admissions and his call to Brian Kelly, he made a stop at Notre Dame stadium. After spending some time in the same locker room that has seen many legends, Tate knew he had found his home.

"When we were actually in the locker room (I knew it)," Nichols explained. "Reading the speech on the wall by the Gipper, when he was on his deathbed, and seeing the national championships on the wall heading out of the locker room and seeing the ‘Play Like A Champion' sign heading out, and being in the locker room, kind of gave me chills. It was something that I never really felt before, standing in a place like that, that was when I understood that Notre Dame was something that I needed to be a part of. After that I told coach Warinner and coach Kelly that I wanted to commit.

"Notre Dame is far enough away from home to be on your own and be away from the people you know, and experience something new. It's also close enough that if I want to go home, I can jump in a car and go. The tradition of a school like Notre Dame is something that you don't find anywhere else… that was definitely huge. The academics were definitely a part of it. They're a prestigious academic university along with having a rich football tradition. I really liked coach Kelly… He's a winner. There's no other way to say it. He wins no matter where he goes, so I'm really excited about what he's going to do at Notre Dame. I also got along very well with my position coach, coach Warinner.

"I've always watched Notre Dame growing up. In the greater Cincinnati area there are a lot of Notre Dame fans in the area. I'm Catholics, so that was definitely big. Coming up here and knowing what I knew about Notre Dame, and then finally experiencing it, it was ten times better than I ever could have imagined. There was no reason and not get it over with instead of drawing the process out until signing day."

With Lombard as the only lineman in the class, the Notre Dame coaching staff is pleased that Nichols made a quick decision. He has also made the decision that he'll play a new position in college.

"I played tight end in high school, a little bit of wide receiver, some outside linebacker and defensive end all this year," he said. "I'm not fast enough to play tight end at this level, but I'm athletic enough to put on the weight and then play tackle. That's what they want me to do, because I'm close to 280-pounds now. If I'm able to transition to offensive tackle, I should be able to compete for playing time pretty early."

Being nearly 280 pounds is new to Nichols, who played his junior season around 240 pounds.

"This season I played at about 260-265 pounds," Tate said. "The biggest reason for that is that I got with a nutritionist before my senior season and I was on a really comprehensive, in-depth, all-encompassing diet and nutrition program. Pretty much every meal, every day was scheduled out. Everything was timed. Everything was measured, everything that I did was calculated as far as eating, and that was the biggest thing that allowed me to put on good weight, and put on muscle in a relatively short period of time."

"The nutritionist is the same guy that Kyle Rudolph works with. Kyle and I are (distantly) related. I knew Kyle had put on a lot of weight before he got to Notre Dame, and he really kind of changed his body so that he was able to play as a freshman at Notre Dame. I called him up one day, and asked him where he went."

Although Tate has attracted attention from a number of schools since he opened up his recruitment in December, he will inform them that he is sold with his new school.

"I'll take my official visit to Notre Dame this weekend and then I'm done," he said. "I'm shutting everything down then."

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