Recruiting coordinator Mike Elston feels Notre Dame momentum

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Recruiting momentum is more than a myth.

One commitment can lead to multiple commitments and bring energy into a recruiting class.

Just ask Mike Elston. Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator is a firm believer in recruiting momentum after the Irish landed five commitments in a three-day span earlier this month.

“I definitely think there’s recruiting momentum,” Elston said Wednesday after spring practice No. 6 for the Irish. “Recruits out there feel it. Coaches feel it. It gasses you up and gets you excited because you work hard at it.

“When you don’t see the progress and success of it, then like anything else you get discouraged at times. When you get the momentum and you get a couple of successful commitments, then you get that charge and you feel great. You keep working, and it keeps happening.”

Notre Dame’s junior day event allowed for the momentum to ignite. The Irish drew in more than 30 recruits from across the country. Twenty four of the visitors had received Notre Dame offers by the end of the weekend.

With or without the commitments that immediately followed junior day, the event could be deemed a success by the organization of getting so many talented players on campus for a spring unofficial visit.

“It was an incredibly successful day just by the quality of players that were here,” Elston said. “The success of getting that to fruition was we identified who we wanted to come earlier, we invited them earlier and they had a chance to plan it earlier.

“You’ll see that when we do our junior days. We’ve had a couple of them this year which is different than we’ve ever done. Both of them were very successful in the quality that we got (on campus).

“The success was we built the whole day around the staff, relationships and our players. Then they got a chance to watch practice. Guys that get Notre Dame get it when they’re here. And when they don’t get it, it’s just not hitting their brain right, you’re not going to have success. When you target guys that you think are going to get it and you bring them here, you’re going to have success with those guys.”

Getting the right recruits on campus puts Notre Dame in a position where it’s not pushing for commitments. This early in the recruiting cycle, verbal pledges are a luxury and not a necessity. But the Irish coaching staff is happy to build a class of players who are certain about their future.

“We don’t squeeze guys and pressure them,” Elston said. “That’s just not what we do. A lot of other schools do that. When you do that, you end up making a kid make a decision before he’s ready and then guess what he wants to do in December? He wants to take another visit. He wants to decommit. We want kids to commit when they’re ready so they can be solid with that commitment.”

Notre Dame’s next big visitor weekend will be for the Blue-Gold Game on April 16. But the Irish have seen a steady trickle of visitors in the past week. It’s expected to continue throughout the spring.

One way the Irish have tried to increase visitor traffic is by being cognizant of football camps and tournaments in nearby areas like Chicago. Last week a group of players from Miami Carol City visited Notre Dame as part of a Midwest swing before the Chicago Showcase hosted by EFT Football Academy.

Last year, B2G Sports brought a group of players from California that included eventual Irish signees Javon McKinley and D.J. Morgan to campus before a seven-on-seven tournament in Chicago. The group is expected to bring visitors to Notre Dame again in April.

The Chicago Opening Regional, a Nike camp, could also bring recruits Notre Dame’s way in May.

“We’re setting a lot of things that we do recruiting-wise around events,” Elston said. “There’s an event happening in Chicago in the middle of May which we’re aware of. So we’re going to position coaches in spring recruiting to have the ability to come back to campus to access anybody that wants to come down to visit us. That’s a huge point for us to utilize anything that’s going on in Chicago because it’s so close.”

Anything to keep the momentum rolling.

More recruiting help

On Wednesday, Elston detailed another development in Notre Dame’s recruiting office. In the past, the recruiting staff included one employee who was in charge of graphic design and social media. This year, those responsibilities will be split between two staff members.

Laura Thomas, who previously worked as a blogger with Fighting Irish Media on UND.com, has taken control of the social media aspect for Notre Dame. Her work can be seen on the different Notre Dame football accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

“She’s running our social media and doing an awesome job,” Elston said.

The Irish will also hire a full-time graphic designer. Elston said that person will hopefully be in place within the next week.

“We’ll be able to pump out more stuff in quality with a design ecosystem which is what we want to call it where there’s a consistency for every graphic that goes out,” Elston said. “Whether we DM (direct message) it to a kid or we put it out on our Twitter or Facebook, we want to have a consistency. You’ll start to see that.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Mike Elston feels recruiting momentum for the Irish. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)