Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 15, 2014 Issue

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

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Page 74 of 107

BY LOU SOMOGYI W hen Indianapolis was announced as the site of Notre Dame's 2014 Sham- rock Series game versus longtime in-state rival Purdue, some initial head scratching might have occurred. Wasn't the purpose of the Shamrock Series supposed to be about Notre Dame traveling to a prime recruit- ing territory (like Texas in 2009 and 2013, and scheduled for 2016), or one of the nation's large-market venues (New York City in 2011 and Chicago in 2013)? Why stay in your own state that is not necessarily known for big-time high school football? While it is common to label Indiana primarily a "basketball state," it's also been fantastic to Notre Dame's football history and will always remain one of the mainstays in its recruiting efforts. Although Indiana will never pro- duce high-level football talent at the rate of California, Texas, Florida, or even neighboring states Illinois and Ohio, the gems that are available ev- ery year become foremost recruiting priorities. Under fifth-year head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has signed the top- rated players in the state each of the past four years, including quarterback Gunner Kiel (now at Cincinnati) and current defensive lineman/team cap- tain Sheldon Day in 2012, linebacker Jaylon Smith in 2013 and wide receiver Justin Brent in 2014. This year, the Irish already have a verbal commitment from Merrillville linebacker Josh Barajas, Indiana's No. 1-rated prospect in the 2015 recruit- ing cycle, per 247Sports. It also has a pledge from Indianapolis defensive lineman Brandon Tiassum and is vy- ing with Michigan to land Indianapo- lis linebacker Asmar Bilal. Recruiting excellence for Notre THE ALL-IN IANA TEAM In-state talent is vital to Notre Dame's football success

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