Notre Dame football recruiting: ND visit won over Nelson family

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Quenton Nelson knew he was ready to commit to Notre Dame, but when hehad Brian Kelly on the phone Wednesday night, he made the head coachwait.

Not too long though.

As soon as he hung up, he redialed Kelly's number and offered the good news.

"That's Quenton," said his mother, Maryellen Nelson, on Thursday. "Heneeds to pull a little joke here or there. He wanted to make itmemorable in some way."

Kelly had just ended his one outgoing phone call to Nelson allowed bythe NCAA during the spring evaluation period and expressed theprogram's need for Nelson. But he also let Nelson know that theyweren't in a hurry for a decision.

"He said, 'Take as much time as you want, Quenton. If you wait untilJanuary or February, I'm still willing to take you,'" Maryellenrecalled. "We were like, 'Wow, that's tremendous.' It was something tohear that from him that he wanted Quenton that much. That justsolidified everything in Quenton's mind and our mind."

The 6-foot-5, 295-pound junior at Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic let hisparents know earlier on Wednesday, when he returned home from hisafter-school workout, that he was ready to commit. Knowing a call fromKelly was coming later, Quenton took a shower and joined his familywearing a Notre Dame hat and a long-sleeve ND shirt, the only one heowns. Quenton talked through the decision with his parents and wasgiven the permission to let Notre Dame know.

The Nelson family had been heavily swayed during the first weekend inApril when they visited campus for the first time and the coachingstaff extended Quenton an offer. That's when they bought him the hat.

"We were hoping for an offer. I don't think they ever really hadQuenton's film," Maryellen said. "They never had gotten hisseason-ending film with all the better highlights on it. When they sawhim in person and then we brought a copy of the film with us, they gotto see it."

Oddly enough, the trip might have never happened if they didn't have atrip to Northwestern lined earlier in the same week.

"I don't know if we would have made the trip to Notre Dame. Maybeeventually, as time went by. We're just happy how everything workedout."

On the visit, Nelson was able to take a tour of the school and itsfootball facilities, check out the dorm scene while staying withearly-enrolled freshman offensive tackle Steve Elmer, and watch twospring practices.

Quenton told his parents that he was impressed by all the students oncampus that were invested in the football team. That, to go along withhis affinity for Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, made NotreDame really stand out above the others schools on an offer list ofmore than 20 major programs that included Alabama, Miami, Ohio Stateand Oklahoma.

"It was just a tremendous visit," Maryellen said. "He couldn't lookpast it. Once we saw it and they offered him, it was just like there'sno other place like Notre Dame. Nothing else can compare to it."

The Nelsons have already met the two other offensive linemen committedto Notre Dame. Jimmy Byrne and his parents were on campus for anunofficial visit at the same time the Nelsons were visiting and SamMustipher and his father were at the Rivals Camp in New Jersey thispast weekend that Quenton attended. The impressions made by both theByrnes and Mustiphers allowed Maryellen to be at ease with Quenton'sdecision.

Quenton's excitement lingered late into Wednesday night, as he and hisfather stayed up until 2 a.m. Maryellen, expecting to have to wake upQuenton in the morning for school like normal, woke up to see her sonalready awake.

"He was just pumped. He couldn't wait," Maryellen said. "He wore hisNotre Dame long-sleeve shirt over his school uniform this morning. Hewas really proud to wear it to school today."

THE ANALYSTS’ TAKE

Recruiting analysts share their thoughts on Quenton Nelson.

TOM LEMMING, CBS Sports Network

On Nelson’s fit alongside two other offensive line commitments:

“He’s a dominating guy. He may be the best of the bunch.”

STEVE WILTFONG, 247Sports.com

On Nelson’s value:

"He's one of the best offensive linemen in the country. He's a guy that gets after people.”

On Nelson’s athleticism and toughness:

“For a big guy, he can run. He's well put together and plays with an intensity. He's a guy that you're pretty confident that when he gets to college, he's a kid that's going to get hit in the mouth and keep on fighting.”

Staff writer Tyler James:

tjames1@sbtinfo.com

574-235-6214

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly walks the sidelines during the 2012 Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game.