Clemson 1, ND 2

Clay Burton seems to fit the mold of the type of big athlete that the new Notre Dame staff is targeting. The 6'3.5" 223-pound athlete from Venice High School (Fla.) had been receiving recruiting letters from Notre Dame for some time, but he was definitely surprised when the Irish came through with a scholarship offer.

Clay Burton had been receiving recruiting letters from Notre Dame for awhile, but it seemed like most of the letters were the garden variety recruiting material that filled his mailbox on a daily basis… that was until earlier this week.

"Right after my junior season I started to get a lot of mail from Notre Dame," Burton recalled. "The letters said that I was a top prospect and I kept getting them and getting them. Coach Alford came down just before signing day to check out if I was legit or not. I was wondering why they were coming down to look at me, because I thought all the letters they were sending me were generic. Coach Alford said that they had been interested in me for awhile and he wanted to come check me out and get a feel for me.

"Last Friday my coach let me know that I needed to give coach Alford a call, so when I got home I called him. He asked me if my coach had me call and I said, ‘Yes, sir.' He asked me if I knew why my coach wanted me to call and I said, ‘No sir.' That's when he said, ‘We're going to offer you a scholarship to Notre Dame.' I was kind of in shock. It's just an honor to be recognized as a student athlete by that university. I just feel so honored and it makes me just want to work harder.

"Coach Alford let me know that they all watched my highlight tape and that they were all really impressed and they liked my playmaking ability," he said. "I'm really not sure what position that they're recruiting me for. They run a ‘3-4', so I'm sure I'll be big enough in college that I can play with my hand down, but I'm also athletic enough to be that blitzing linebacker if they need me to do that. I know it will be on the defensive side of the ball, either the stand-up linebacker or I can put my hand down like I've been playing my whole high school career."

Living in Florida, Burton hasn't had a chance to visit to the Notre Dame campus, but he's currently working on plans to make it to South Bend this spring.

"I'm very interested in them," he said. "My uncle and I are planning on making it to their junior day (March 20) and really pursue them seriously since they took serious interest in me. I'm definitely very interested in them."

The recent scholarship offer from the Irish certainly caught Burton's attention, but that isn't the first time Notre Dame has caught Clay's eye.

"I really paid attention to them when they had Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija, and they were really playing at a high level and in the national championship hunt," Burton explained. "Since then they've been in a little turmoil with coach Weis, and I recognized that. Now that they have a new head coach, Brian Kelly from Cincinnati, he seems like a really good guy. I'm just excited to talk with the coaches, get up there and see what they have to offer and really check them out."

With the Irish offer, Burton is has started to build some recruiting momentum.

"I have offers from Clemson, Notre Dame, Stanford, Rutgers, Purdue, and Florida International," he said. "I'm expecting one from North Carolina to come in shortly, because I was in touch with their coach this week. He sent me a letter in the mail asking me to give him a call, so I called him we talked, and I think they'll offer.

"No.1 right now is Clemson. I've taken a couple trips up there for games. I've been really impressed, and their coaching staff has been recruiting me really hard. They were the first team to offer me. With the offer from Notre Dame, I would say that they moved to the second place and I'm really excited to get to know their coaching staff and see what they have to offer."

Although Burton has a couple Clemson and Notre Dame at the top of his list, don't expect him to make a decision in the near future.

"I'm planning on waiting this whole spring out," Clay explained. "That's when all the coaches will come to my high school and offer me or say that they're just recruiting me. I'll wait until then and see how many offers I get and then make a top-5. After that I'll plan to take official visits. If I visit School No. 2 and I fall in love with it, then I'll commit to them. If it's as toss-up, then I'll take all five of my visits. I'll take it to the very end, but I think I would really want to make a decision by the beginning of my senior year or in the middle, after an official visit or two."

As a junior, Burton had 80 tackles and 12 sacks in 11 games. Top Stories