A physical specimen at 6'5" and 250 pounds with outstanding straight ahead speed and lateral movement, Zionsville HS (Zionsville Ind.) star Blake Lueders had been considered one of the pillars of Notre Dame's 2010 recruiting class ever since he committed to the Irish back in June.
But when former Irish Head Coach Charlie Weis was fired in late November, Lueders decided to open up his recruitment.
"I mean it's kind of the biggest decision I had to make in my life so I wanted to be 100% sure I made the right one," Lueders said.
So, the four-star prospect decided to schedule an official visit to Stanford for January 15 to see if he would find the Cardinal program a better fit.
Lueders was hosted on his Stanford visit by Cardinal defensive end Tom Keiser, and found the trip to be quite enjoyable – even more so than an unofficial visit he took to Palo Alto last spring.
"I was a lot more impressed on the official visit," Lueders said. "I don't know why, but I just was. The visit was a blast. I got to meet a lot of the commits, talk to the coaches and I was really impressed."
Lueders then returned to Indiana and pondered his decision for about a week. He received former Notre Dame and current Stanford assistant coaches Randy Hart and Brian Polian in his home on Friday and then got a visit from Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh on Sunday, when he announced his commitment to the Cardinal.
"I committed right at the end [of the in-home visit]," Lueders said. "Coach Harbaugh was thrilled. I think he was a little surprised. I don't think he thought I was going to decide at that point."
While Lueders denies the presence of the two former Irish assistants Polian and Hart now on the Stanford staff made a huge impact on his recruitment, he admits that having a few familiar faces in Palo Alto should make his transition easier.
"It didn't make a huge impact, but it was nice to know that I already knew those guys and that it would make the transition easier."
Although capable of playing multiple defensive positions, Lueders plans to start his Cardinal career as a middle linebacker in Stanford's 4-3 defense. A move to defensive end isn't out of the realm of possibility, depending on how his body develops.
"Right now, they want me to play middle linebacker and if I get too big and that doesn't work out, I'd move to defensive end," Lueders said.
There was some talk that part of Lueders' decision to decommit from Notre Dame had to do with the 3-4 defense that the Irish plan to run under Brian Kelly, but the 79th best player in the nation according to Scout.com disputed that notion.
"I've always played in a 4-3 and never played in a 3-4 so I think it will be easier for me to jump into a 4-3 right away, but the idea of a 3-4 didn't scare me," Lueders said.
Still, Lueders could have been somewhat intimidated by the reaction he expected to receive at Zionsville High after word of his decision spread.
"I'd definitely say there are more Notre Dame fans in Zionsville than there are Stanford fans," laughed Lueders. "But everyone's supported my decision."
Lueders plans to sign his Letter of Intent next Wednesday then enroll at Stanford for the start of the summer session around June 21.
He has already gained admission to the university with a 1280 two-part SAT and a weighted GPA of 4.1.
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