Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 26, 2016

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

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44 SEPT. 26, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED PREP PROFILES Judge Culpepper, a four-star tight end in the class of 2018, was offered by Notre Dame June 10. The Tampa (Fla.) Plant product said his Irish offer was both humbling and motivating. "It means everything," Culpepper said. "It's amazing. It just told me that I need to work that much harder so I can really prove that I'm worth it." Culpepper, who caught 18 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns last season, hasn't been to South Bend yet, but said he plans to make the trip sometime in the near future. "Notre Dame is an unbelievable program," Culpepper said. "It's been great for so many years. It was my dad's second choice. He ended up go- ing to Florida and playing defensive tackle, but his No. 2 was Notre Dame. "He was really excited to hear that they offered me. We both really want to go up and see a game and check it out. There is definitely a lot of interest." His father, Brad Culpepper, was a defensive tackle and recorded 34 sacks over his nine-year NFL career. Judge Culpepper is ranked as the No. 10 tight end in the class of 2018, but he said some Notre Dame coaches have also been impressed with his skills on the defensive line. "My dad and I work on defensive line stuff all the time," Culpepper said. "I really don't have a favorite position. I'll play whatever they want me to play. "I love defensive line. My dad pushes me all the time on back work and getting the hips and all that stuff. I'm open to whatever position." Culpepper noted that he has some specific items he's looking for in a school. "I want to go somewhere that's got a good academic tradition, and I want to go somewhere a diploma holds weight," he said. "Obviously, Notre Dame is a great academic school. I also want to go somewhere that really wants me as bad I want to go there. That's what it comes down to." Notre Dame's strong record on the gridiron also could help its chances. "There's a ton of tradition," Culpep- per said. "You go there, and you're connected for the rest of your life. So many people have gone through Notre Dame, and I think that's really cool." — David McKinney Kevin Austin has plenty of accom- plishments he can claim. The three-star wide receiver from Coconut Creek (Fla.) North Broward is listed as the No. 64 wide receiver in the class of 2018 by Rivals, and he holds offers from Miami, Tennessee, Michigan State and several others. On Aug. 29, Austin added a Notre Dame offer to that list of accomplish- ments. Austin, who stands 6-3 and 190 pounds, said an offer from the Irish was one he was extra proud to receive. "I feel blessed," Austin said. "It humbles me even more, and it makes me want to keep working hard to keep getting offers like that and have more and more opportunities. My coaches talk to me every day and say, 'Stay humble and you will keep receiving these offers.'" According to Austin, when he received the offer the Notre Dame coaches said they liked what they were seeing from him both on and off the field. "They said they gave me the offer because of my character, that I have good character off the field." Austin said. "On the field, they liked how big I am. "I'm 6-3, 190 and can run a 4.5 40, break tackles and have quick feet. That's something they all look for. My coach gave them my film and they were really impressed by it." The three-star prospect indicated that Notre Dame is definitely in the running for his services. "I felt blessed to receive an offer from such a big university that is known na- tionwide for academics and football," Austin said. "A big program like that is going to be pretty high on my list. "I don't have a list yet, but they're pretty high up right now." Austin's main recruiter is running backs coach Autry Denson, who has already made a strong impression on the Sunshine State pass catcher. "They [the Notre Dame coaching staff] seem like really open people," Austin said. "Coach Denson said anytime I want to call him and ask him anything about the university, he'll tell me the truth. "He's not going to lie, and that's what I really like about him as a per- son. "He's a great guy, and I think all the coaches over there are like that." — David McKinney 2018 Tight End Excited And Motivated By Irish Offer Florida Receiver 'Blessed' By Notre Dame Offer "IT'S AMAZING. IT JUST TOLD ME THAT I NEED TO WORK THAT MUCH HARDER SO I CAN REALLY PROVE THAT I'M WORTH IT." CULPEPPER ON NOTRE DAME JUDGE CULPEPPER ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Plant H.S. Tampa, Fla. Status: Offered Class: 2018 Position: Tight End Ht.: 6-5 · Wt.: 240 Rivals Rankings: No. 10 tight end and No. 222 overall player in the nation KEVIN AUSTIN ✪ ✪ ✪ North Broward H.S. Coconut Creek, Fla. Status: Offered Class: 2018 Position: Wide Receiver Ht.: 6-3 · Wt.: 185 Rivals Rankings: No. 64 wide receiver in the country "IT HUMBLES ME EVEN MORE, AND IT MAKES ME WANT TO KEEP WORKING HARD TO KEEP GETTING OFFERS LIKE THAT AND HAVE MORE AND MORE OPPORTUNITIES." AUSTIN ON HIS IRISH OFFER

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