Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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42 APRIL 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED PREP PROFILES Clarkston (Mich.) High class of 2021 offensive guard Rocco Spindler is a longtime Fighting Irish target who has built a strong relationship with the Notre Dame staff. And interestingly enough, Spindler now even has a connection with a former legendary Notre Dame coach. Spindler attended a work conven- tion in Mexico with his father in late February, and 83-year-old Lou Holtz, who led the Fighting Irish to a na- tional championship in 1988, was a speaker at the event. "We had no idea that Coach Holtz was even going to be there," Spindler said. The four-star prospect had already enjoyed his week, and meeting Holtz put a stamp on his time south of the United States border. Holtz gave a motivational speech to the 250 peo- ple at the convention, and Spindler and his father got to speak to him for about 30 minutes. It was Rocco's first time meeting Holtz, but his father, Marc, was al- ready familiar with the iconic coach. The elder Spindler played defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Panthers be- fore spending eight years in the NFL. Holtz and the Notre Dame staff re- cruited Spindler to play for the Irish. Spindler 's father and Holtz ban- tered for a bit about Pittsburgh de- feating Notre Dame 30-22 in 1987, when Marc was a freshman. "Coach Holtz's eyes just lit up when my dad introduced himself," Spindler said. "He said, 'You had a really great career and I wished I re- cruited you a little bit harder to get you to come to Notre Dame.'" Then the younger Spindler joined the conversation and introduced himself to Holtz, explaining that he was a target for the Irish on the of- fensive line in the 2021 class. "He really inspired me with the stories he told and all the messages he gave about life, recruiting, foot- ball and Notre Dame," Spindler said. "It was crazy. We found out the day before that he'd be there. I was like, 'Wow, that could be a sign there.'" Whether it was intentional or not on Holtz's part, he certainly helped Notre Dame's cause in recruiting Spindler, who is rated as the nation's No. 2 offensive guard and No. 55 overall prospect. The next recruiting trip planned for Spindler will be an unofficial visit to South Bend for the weekend of March 20-22. It will be a big weekend for the Irish, with several of their top targets visiting. — Mike Singer Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centen- nial class of 2021 five-star running back Camar Wheaton didn't know what to expect when he visited Notre Dame last June. "When I first got there, I thought I was in France because it looked dif- ferent than where I'm from," Whea- ton said following the Future 50 Camp in Orlando, Fla., in January. "I was like, 'Dang, where am I at?'" While it's different than some of the schools the Dallas native is used to, Wheaton really liked Notre Dame, and the Irish continue to be a factor in his recruitment. "The people there were really cool," said Wheaton, who is ranked as the nation's top running back and No. 7 overall prospect. "I got to meet some NFL stars who they put in the league. I met the players and knew a couple of people who they recruited from Texas. It was legit." Wheaton plans to narrow down his list of schools to 10, and he noted that "sustainability with the coaches" will be a key factor of what he is look- ing for in a college. Every school has assistant coaches, including coordi- nators, come and go, but not many places can boast a head coach that has been around for a decade. "They have sustainability," Whea- ton said about the Fighting Irish. "They have NFL stars coming back; you don't get that from a lot of schools. It just shows that their players love it." Wheaton wants to take his official visits in the spring, make a commit- ment in December and put pen to paper in the early signing period. Notre Dame is a possibility for an official visit. "I'm trying to get back," Wheaton said. Notre Dame running backs coach Lance Taylor regularly visits Whea- ton's school during open recruiting periods and has built a strong con- nection with the 6-1, 190-pounder. "Me and him text heavy," Wheaton noted. "It's a really good [relation- ship]." Wheaton also holds offers from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, USC and Washington. The Irish have an uphill battle to win Wheaton's recruitment. It's cru- cial for Notre Dame's chances with the five-star prospect to get him to South Bend for an official visit, and Blue & Gold Illustrated sources feel that Brian Kelly and Co. will get Wheaton back on campus. — Mike Singer Four-Star Lineman Enjoys Impromptu Meeting With Lou Holtz Notre Dame Has A Shot With Five-Star Lone Star State Back "When I first got there, I thought I was in France because it looked different than where I'm from. I was like, 'Dang, where am I at?'" Wheaton on Notre Dame ROCCO SPINDLER ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Clarkston H.S. Clarkston, Mich. Status: Offered Class: 2021 Position: Offensive Guard Ht.: 6-5 • Wt.: 290 Rivals Rankings: No. 3 player in Michigan, and No. 2 guard and No. 55 overall prospect nationally CAMAR WHEATON ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Lakeview Centennial Garland, Texas Status: Offered Class: 2021 Position: Running Back Ht.: 6-1 • Wt.: 190 Rivals Rankings: No. 1 player in Texas, and No. 1 running back and No. 7 overall player nationally

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