Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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64 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY TODD D. BURLAGE Scott Raridon Sr. received a dose of generational perspective during a phone call with an old friend after his grandson Eli Raridon committed to play football at Notre Dame in May 2021. Scott Sr. was a valuable member of the Notre Dame strength and condi- tioning coaching staff under Lou Holtz through the late 1980s, which included the 1988 national championship season. Scott's son, Scott Raridon Jr., later followed in his father's footsteps and became a three-time letter winner at Notre Dame as a backup offensive line- man and a long snapper under former coaches Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis from 2002-06. And now, almost 30 years later, Scott Jr.'s son, Eli, will become a third-gener- ation Notre Dame Raridon when he ar- rives on campus this summer as a gifted four-star tight end from Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa. Former legendary Notre Dame re- cruiting coordinator Vinny Cerrato — who worked with Raridon Sr. at the university back in the 1980s — remains close with his former Irish colleague and the two celebrated Eli's college choice. "Vinny asked me if during my time at Notre Dame, could I have ever imag- ined that someday my son and grandson would go to school there?" Raridon Sr. recalled of the conversation with his longtime friend. "I had a tear in my eye. Obviously, I never gave any thought to it back then, this isn't even fathomable. "When [Eli] ended up committing to Notre Dame, it was really special." The fact that Eli chose Notre Dame seemed natural enough — family ties, campus familiarity, Tight End U. Eli was actually born while his father was still studying and playing at Notre Dame and lived with his young parents near campus for about the first two years of his life until Scott Jr. graduated. The fact that Eli was never pressured or pushed into his destination decision was a bit more surprising, given his deep family and football roots at Notre Dame. Eli's long offer sheet included home- state schools Iowa and Iowa State, two other potential landing spots that the entire Raridon family were impressed with. "I didn't want [Eli] to go to Notre Dame just because I went there," ex- plained Scott Jr., who was recruited by Bob Davie and suffered through the George O'Leary résumé scandal before Willingham ultimately became his first college coach. "I wanted him to figure it out for himself, where he wanted to go." Eli had already attended countless Notre Dame football game weekends with his father while growing up, so a campus familiarity and an unavoidable attraction were already in place. "Notre Dame was always [Eli's] fa- vorite team," Scott Jr. said. "I guess he didn't have much of a choice!" But Scott Jr. also explained how as a father, he wanted to be more of a sound- ing board than a decision driver dur- ing Eli's recruiting journey. Dad often played "devil's advocate" to make sure his son carefully weighed all options. "I did that so Eli was kind of bound to his decision," Scott Jr. added, "and not feeling like he was feeling pressured into this." With 2022 three-star tight end Jack Nickel already verbally committed to Notre Dame, Eli was never mentioned as a top Irish recruiting target. But blend a two-inch growth spurt before his junior high school season Eli Raridon Keeping Notre Dame All In The Family Raridon, a talented and athletic tight end, is the son of former Irish offensive lineman Scott Raridon Jr. His grandfather, Scott Sr., was the program's strength and conditioning coach under Lou Holtz, including the 1988 national championship season. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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