Conroe (Texas) Oak Ridge defensive end Joseph Ossai picked up an offer from Notre Dame Feb. 23, and the Irish are the lone threat to pull the three-star out of Texas.
Ossai released a top three July 2 that included Notre Dame along with Texas and Texas A&M.
The Lone Star State talent will get his first look at Notre Dame this weekend when the Irish host Temple to open the season.
Ossai said he’s been high on the Fighting Irish for a long time and is looking forward to arriving in South Bend.
“Notre Dame has always intrigued me,” Ossai told Blue & Gold Illustrated. “I remember watching their games and seeing their gold helmets. Every game I watched when I was little, they won. That always helped. And them being a huge Catholic school helps their case a lot.”
The Catholic school aspect piqued the interest of not only Ossai, but his parents as well.
“Being a huge Catholic school like that really put it there for my mom and my dad,” Ossai said. “That really helped them a lot.”
Both of Ossai’s parents will join him on the trip to South Bend.
Since being offered in February, Ossai has been in constant contact with Notre Dame, most notably defensive line coach Mike Elston and defensive coordinator Mike Elko.
Ossai said the relationships he’s built with the coaching staff are a big part of the reason Notre Dame is one of his finalists.
“The coaches and I have built a pretty good connection,” he noted. “That’s helped a bunch.”
Elko, Ossai said, has been the driving force in his recruitment, and the Texas talent has responded well to the defensive coordinator’s message and plan for his abilities.
“He’s pretty straightforward,” Ossai stated. “He tells you what he wants and what his vision is, and it sounds pretty good. I know they’re going to look at me as an edge guy who can put his hand in the dirt but can also stand up and come off the edge. That would be fun.”
This weekend, they will meet in person for the first time, and Ossai couldn’t be more excited about the visit. .
“I’ve heard the campus at Notre Dame is beautiful,” Ossai said. “I’ve heard people say it looks like a castle. I just want to take it all in.
“I’m not really expecting anything. I’m just going to go with an open mindset and realty appreciate the details.”
Should everything go well during the trip, Notre Dame could be in position to make a move for Ossai. Having two in-state schools in his top three has led most prognosticators to believe Ossai is destined to stay home, but he says that’s no certainty.
“I’m definitely open to leaving Texas,” he said. “That’s why I put Notre Dame in there. I could have put another Texas school or a school that’s close to Texas like Oklahoma or LSU.”
Whether or not he will end up doing so remains to be seen, but Ossai said heading into the visit, all three schools are tied at the top.
“They’re all over the place,” Ossai explained. “Every time I take a visit, it switches up or changes. They’re all great schools and all great football programs.”
The Texas product said he will officially visit all three schools on his list, then enter decision mode.
“I should know after the visits,” Ossai said. “After all the visits, I’m going to know and I’m going to call the coach and tell him, but I won’t let it come out until signing day.”
Ossai has unofficially visited Texas and Texas A&M multiple times, but has yet to set up official visits to either campus.