Notre Dame football recruits receive 'Pot of Gold' packages

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Brian Kelly sent out the warning on Twitter.

“On their way #PotOfGold,” was the message recently sent from the Twitter account of Notre Dame’s head football coach.

It signaled the return of a mailing strategy aimed at Notre Dame’s top targets and commits. Last year's version, the first iteration, came in the form of 477 letters to each recipient to represent the 477 NFL Draft picks from Notre Dame at the time. The 2015 version took on a different design but with another numbers-inspired message.

The packages sent to recruits included 244 “gold coins” with 11 different recruiting pitches. The 244 paper coins represent Notre Dame’s current streak of consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium. The 244th game will be the 2015 season opener, Sept. 5 vs. Texas, and consequently the first college games for the 2015 recruiting class. The 11 types of coins represent the 11 national championships won by the Irish.

Recruits started receiving their packages over the weekend. Among the first was safety target Gary Jennings of Stafford (Va.) Colonial Forge High School.

“Coach Kelly said to be on the lookout for my Pot of Gold,” Jennings said. “I didn't know what he was talking about. When I saw it, I knew what it was.”

Jennings, a three-star recruit who visited Notre Dame in December, said he was impressed by the package. It served as a reminder of what Notre Dame has to offer before he visits Virginia and West Virginia later this month.

“I already know the overall message of Notre Dame, but this is a pretty cool way to reiterate it,” Jennings said.

Fellow Irish safety target Frank Buncom IV is no stranger to recruiting mail. The four-star prospect at San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine said he doesn’t even open the letters he receives anymore. That changed on Monday.

“I actually hadn't opened up a letter in over a year,” Buncom said. “Because there was so much anticipation, I actually opened this one up.”

Buncom said he was pretty well-versed in the benefits of Notre Dame before receiving the Pot of Gold, so it didn’t teach him a lot he didn’t already know. But he understood the message Notre Dame was trying to send him in the final weeks of his recruitment. Buncom, who used an official visit to Notre Dame in October, plans to visit Stanford and Cal before announcing a commitment on Jan. 28. National signing day is Feb. 4.

"The main message is simply that they want you, and that they want you to come to their university,” Buncom said. “This is a grand gesture before you make your decision. I think that's what they were trying to accomplish.”

Only one 2014 recruit, linebacker Nyles Morgan, committed to Notre Dame at some point after receiving last year’s mailing barrage. The Irish hope to have better luck this year. As of Monday night, three recruiting targets — Jennings, Buncom and five-star defensive line prospect Rasheem Green — reported receiving their Pot of Gold packages.

Other recruits likely to have their mailboxes filled by Kelly's mass messages include wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, tight end Alize Jones, safeties Ben Edwards and Justin Reid, and running backs Soso Jamabo, Jordan Cronkrite, Dexter Williams and Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

Members of Notre Dame’s current 22-man recruiting class are also expected to be given a Pot of Gold. Wide receiver commit C.J. Sanders recently opened his collection of paper coins.

“All the parts of it were pretty cool,” Sanders said. “It talked about the history of the school, the Heisman Trophy winners, the pro players, things like that. I enjoyed it. It was well-thought-out."

Sanders, who has been committed to Notre Dame since May, didn’t need to be sold on the Irish once again. But knowing the Notre Dame coaching staff and recruiting office took the time to have one of the packages sent to him meant something. He spent time going through the different messages with his family.

“It did feel good that they took their time out to do that,” Sanders said of Notre Dame’s staff. “I think this will help a lot of other recruits in the process as well. It shows you that they're serious.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame's coaching staff sent out large mail packages, each termed a Pot of Gold, to top recruiting targets and commits in the 2015 class. (Photos via Twitter and Instagram)
Notre Dame's coach staff sent out a "Pot of Gold" to top recruits in the 2015 class. (Photo via @NDFootball on Twitter.)
Photo via @NDFootball on Twitter.
Photo via Stacie McCall Harris (@1hotmominspire), mother of Notre Dame wide receiver commit C.J. Sanders, on Instagram.