Notre Dame DE target Porter Gustin makes visit a family affair

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Porter Gustin didn’t make the trip to Notre Dame alone.

When the senior defensive end prospect traveled from Salem, Utah, to South Bend for Saturday’s game against Michigan, he brought a group of eight family members with him.

They all wanted to be a part of his official visit to Notre Dame.

“It was good that they could come on the visit with me and see what it's all like and see what they think about it,” Gustin said. “They all like Notre Dame. That's why I decided to take them.”

They were able to witness the Irish send off the rival Wolverines with a 31-0 drubbing to end the scheduled series between the two schools. But before the game, Gustin was impressed by the collection of big-name celebrities – a group that included New Jersey governor Chris Christie, NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, and former Heisman Trophy winner and Notre Dame wide receiver Tim Brown – gathered for the game.

The most impressive to Gustin was Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer.

“I have a friend that's going into the military, and he always talks about him,” Gustin said. “That was kind of cool.”

The atmosphere in the stadium lived up to expectations for Gustin.

"With all the fans and sitting by the student section, everybody was up the whole game,” Gustin said. “It was a lot of energy.”

On the field, Gustin took note of Notre Dame’s defensive scheme and personnel. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound recruit was able to picture where he would fit on the field. Despite most recruiting sites projecting Gustin as an outside linebacker, he learned he would get a shot at playing defensive end for the Irish.

247Sports slates Gustin as a five-star prospect and the No. 4 outside linebacker in the 2015 class. Rivals rates him a four-star recruit and the No. 9 outside linebacker.

"The rush end position is where I feel like I'd be playing and that's what they told me,” Gustin said. “I like that position a lot because it gets after the quarterback. My height and size really fit that position well.”

Notre Dame’s young defensive front showed Gustin that defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder isn’t afraid to play inexperience players. Four freshmen on the defensive line saw playing time for the Irish against Michigan.

"You always want to get in there and start playing right away,” Gustin said. “There were a lot of freshmen that played. That's definitely a good thing.”

Gustin spent time mingling with other recruits and a few Notre Dame players throughout the weekend. Sunday morning brought breakfast at head coach Brian Kelly’s lake house.

“That was really cool right by the lake,” Gustin said. “I got to go Jet-Skiing and do some things on the water. It was fun."

Later Sunday night came a dinner with defensive ends Andrew Trumbetti and Isaac Rochell and some of the commits also on their official visit. Gustin gave a positive review of the visit after returning home to Utah.

"It was a great visit,” Gustin said. “I was really impressed. The game was great. The environment was great there.”

Plans for the rest of his official visits have yet to be finalized, but Gustin mentioned Ohio State and USC as likely destinations. He also listed Arizona State as one of the other schools in the running for a visit.

As for a decision on a commitment, Gustin doesn’t have a set timeline.

“Hopefully one of the schools is going to really stick out a lot more than the rest of them,” Gustin said. “When that happens, I should know that I want to go to that school."

Watch highlights of Gustin's junior season here. | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame recruit Porter Gustin stands on the sidelines before last Saturday's Notre Dame-Michigan game. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)