DE commit MacCollister loves Notre Dame's 'family environment'

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The allure of Notre Dame’s campus captivated Jonathon MacCollister.

Mere hours into his first visit to South Bend, he was ready to tie his future to the Irish.

“As soon as I walked onto campus and saw how beautiful everything was and started talking to the coaches, I knew it was the place for me,” MacCollister said.

The three-star defensive end recruit gave defensive line coach Keith Gilmore and head coach Brian Kelly his verbal commitment on Friday to join Notre Dame’s 2017 recruiting class.

MacCollister, 6-foot-4, 253 pounds, came to Notre Dame with plenty of knowledge about the Irish. Notre Dame freshman Parker Boudreaux, a former teammate of MacCollister’s at Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore, had already made sure the recruiting pitch was hitting home.

The two will reunite as teammates in 2017.

“He was definitely on me a lot. So was his dad,” MacCollister said. “He wasn’t pushing it too hard, but he was just saying how he wants me to come.”

Opinions have varied on which position suits MacCollister best. Notre Dame prefers him as a “big” defensive end in the mold of Isaac Rochell, Jonathan Bonner and Khalid Kareem. MacCollister has also been projected as a tight end or offensive tackle.

Position preference didn’t weigh into MacCollister’s decision at all. He said he could play either defensive end or tight end successfully, but he remained open to any possibility after realizing it could bring more opportunities for him. 

Ohio State was among the schools to offer him a scholarship as a potential tight end. MacCollister had originally preferred playing tight end, but he posted a note on his Twitter account in March stating he would play whatever the college of his choice wanted him to play.

MacCollister started receiving lessons from Gilmore on Saturday during the Irish Invasion camp. The lack of offensive linemen at the camp didn’t allow MacCollister to test his new moves in a one-on-one situation, but he appreciated the technique Gilmore taught him. He’ll have to test them out against Boudreaux another time.

“He’s an amazing coach,'' MacCollister said of Gilmore. "He’s a very caring coach. He loves his players,” MacCollister said. “He’s going to develop you into the best athlete that you can be. My relationship with him grew a lot over this weekend because I’ve been around him for three days. It’s definitely really strong and I’m glad I’m going to be playing for him.”

MacCollister received the support from his parents, who also made the trip to Notre Dame, to make a decision on his future. The only waiting left is for National Signing Day in February.

“I love the family environment. It’s an awesome place,” MacCollister said. “They have something special there and are definitely in line to win a national championship.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Jonathon MacCollister runs a drill during the Irish Invasion at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, June 18, 2016. ND Insider Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA