Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

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

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Page 34 of 47 DECEMBER 2022 35 FOOTBALL RECRUITING Unsurprisingly, the two do share a simi- lar set of personality traits. They wouldn't be in their respective positions heading to play college athletics if they didn't. They're devoted, driven and determined. Their parents supplied them with the tools necessary to succeed in athletics — things such as training and rides to practice before they could drive — but the rest was up to them. "I didn't set schedules," April said. "I would say, 'These are the days you have workouts, and this is what time you have workouts.' I didn't remind them. I didn't set their clocks to get up. I didn't do those kinds of things." Sam and Emma chose to do those kinds of things, a word that April heav- ily emphasized. It's a big theme in the Pendleton household. "They've just chosen to have goals, and they've chosen to do what they've needed to do to get there," explained their mom. GETTING RECRUITED Sam has been on a football team of some sort since before kindergarten, but he didn't realize college football might be in the works until his junior year of high school. "In September of last year was when I really started getting recruited, and it started taking off for me," Sam said. Clemson and NC State were the early front-runners before Notre Dame swooped into the picture in the final hour. "I went up to South Bend with Notre Dame behind some other schools," Pendleton said in a Blue & Gold Twitter Space in May. "They were kind of late in my process, but I was like, 'I've talked to the coaches. I'm going to make it a point to go and see what they have to offer.' I was blown away." Sam made his verbal pledge to the Irish April 25, citing tradition and aca- demics as the lead rationales for choos- ing Notre Dame. He plans to major in mechanical engineering. Of course, working under offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is a major bonus as well. Emma took a different path, although it, too, ended with a college commit- ment prior to the start of her senior year. Up until around eighth grade, Emma was playing basketball for something to do. She enjoyed it, but it was more of a fun activity than a lifestyle. Then an upperclassman in a local homeschool league changed her mindset. "'Hey, you could play travel basket- ball,'" Emma recalled being told. "'You should really pursue that.' In the eighth grade, that was when I was like, 'OK, this is actually something I could do.'" Heading into her junior season, she started receiving invites to prospect camps. She attended several, accelerating her recruitment even more. On July 29, Emma committed to Lenoir-Rhyne Uni- versity, a small college in Hickory, N.C. To announce the decision, Emma did what many collegiate pledges do: she took to Twitter and went public with the commitment. It was accompanied by a graphic courtesy of 247Sports. Emma didn't request that. Sam did. "I just thought that was the coolest thing, because he didn't have to do that," April said. "When she committed, it was no less of a big deal to him than his was for her." THE LOOMING SPLIT When the twins were 12, the family took in a foster child, Eli. He was 6 months old at the time. He never left, and the twins have a loving relationship with him. The Pendletons have less than two months left as a family of five, at least physically. Phone calls, texting and FaceTime video calls will be plenti- ful once Sam leaves for Notre Dame in January, and they'll only increase once Emma heads 90 minutes away next fall. "We've already started talking about that in the house, and it's been a little bit emotional because we are so close," Emma said. "We're trying to spend as much time as possible with each other right now to fill in that gap when we aren't together." But this isn't a story about splitting up. It's one about continuing down the same path, just as Sam and Emma have done since birth. "They're awesome humans, and not just because of what they can do in ath- letics," their proud mother said. "The sports are just sprinkles on the icing on the cake for their dad and me." ✦ "I went up to South Bend with Notre Dame behind some other schools. They were kind of late in my process, but I was like, 'I've talked to the coaches. I'm going to make it a point to go and see what they have to offer.' I was blown away." SAM PENDLETON Pendleton, an interior offensive lineman who is a four-star prospect in the On3 Consensus, is set to enroll at Notre Dame in January. PHOTO COURTESY SAM PENDLETON

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