Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2014 Issue

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

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Page 75 of 119

FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY TOM LOY A junior day gives a school the op- portunity to host prospects on cam- pus, allows the student-athletes and their families to get acclimated with the university and, in Notre Dame's case, the chance for head coach Brian Kelly to meet with some of his top targets. Notre Dame held its first Junior Day of the year March 1. The recruits and their families sat down with the coach- ing staff, discussed the Irish football program and heard all about the tra- dition in South Bend. Most of the day was spent in the Guglielmino Athlet- ics Complex, where the recruits were given a tour of the football offices, the weight room, the indoor practice facil- ity and the position meeting rooms. At 2 p.m., everyone made their way to the Joyce Center to watch Notre Dame take on Pittsburgh in men's bas- ketball. The Irish lost a tough one in overtime, 85-81, but the atmosphere was exciting and the fans were loud throughout much of the game. Of the 14 prospects in attendance, four hold offers from Notre Dame and all are realistic options for the Irish in the class of 2015. The top recruit in attendance was Cincinnati St. Xavier outside linebacker Justin Hilliard. The 6-2, 230-pounder holds offers from Notre Dame, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State and many others. The Irish, Wolverines, Buckeyes and Hawkeyes look to be the major players for his recruitment. Hilliard is being recruited to the Irish by defensive line coach Mike Elston, but it was his time with new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder that re- ally made this trip a success. "It was definitely a lot better than other visits I've had there," the future U.S. Army All-American said. "I had a lot more time with Coach Kelly and Coach VanGorder. Coach VanGorder told me a lot about his defense, his scheme and how he will be doing things different, especially with the Foursome Helps Make Junior Day A Success Cincinnati St. Xavier five-star recruit Justin Hilliard — who is rated as the No. 14 overall prospect and the No. 1 outside linebacker in the nation by 247Sports — enjoyed his visit to Notre Dame on March 1. PHOTO COURTESY 247SPORTS

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