2019 QB commit Cade McNamara saw something special at Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Cade McNamara was ready to commit to Notre Dame as soon as he learned about his scholarship offer from the Irish.

The 2019 quarterback recruit managed to show some restraint. Instead, he scheduled another Notre Dame visit — his second in less than a month —and gave his pledge to head coach Brian Kelly in person.

That commitment happened last week. McNamara waited until Monday to announce it publicly.

“Last month during June, I came to a camp,” McNamara said Monday night. “As soon as I stepped on campus, I knew something was special about Notre Dame. Once they offered me, I was very honored and super excited. I knew right then and there that Notre Dame was the place for me.”

The 6-foot-1, 186-pound McNamara has been on Notre Dame’s radar since the spring recruiting evaluation period. Special teams coordinator Brian Polian made a return trip to Reno, Nev., where he spent four years as the head coach of the University of Nevada, to watch McNamara throw. Following Polian’s trip to Damonte Ranch High School, McNamara has been in regular contact with Polian and quarterbacks coach Tom Rees.

Rees, who is not permitted to travel for recruiting until January when the NCAA allows football programs to appoint a 10th full-time assistant coach, and the rest of the Irish coaching staff had a chance to see McNamara when he participated in one of Notre Dame’s summer camps on June 18. It didn’t take long for the Irish to realize they were sold on McNamara. He received a scholarship offer 10 days later.

Notre Dame was only the fifth FBS program to extend McNamara an offer. The Irish joined Wisconsin, Nevada, Hawaii and San Diego State on the offer list. Neither Rivals nor 247Sports had given McNamara a star rating at that time. Rivals has since labeled him as a three-star recruit.

“My talent level is what meets the standards of Notre Dame,” McNamara said. “What they really keyed on was my competitiveness and the characteristics I have. When coach Rees and coach Kelly were describing the quarterback they want, it felt like they were describing myself.”

Rees may have seen a little bit of himself in McNamara – a productive high school quarterback who doesn’t necessarily have the size of a prototypical elite quarterback. McNamara completed 218 of his 372 pass attempts (58 percent) for 3,577 yards and 46 touchdowns with 11 interceptions as a sophomore. He added 80 yards and five touchdowns rushing.

Rees has certainly connected with McNamara. When McNamara shared the news of his Notre Dame offer on Twitter last month, he used a photo of Rees from his Irish career to accompany his tweet.

"I love coach Rees,” McNamara said. “He's very competitive. The fact that he's been there at Notre Dame and started, he can really help me out with all the experience I may go through."

McNamara has already set his eyes on return trips to Notre Dame to attend the home games against Georgia and USC this season. He kept a pretty busy travel schedule in June with visits to UCLA, Washington, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Fresno State, and USC.

With two seasons of high school football ahead of him, McNamara could have let the recruiting process play out much longer. It likely would have produced more scholarship offers and given him a chance to prove his prowess to more coaches.

But McNamara was ready to take himself off the market. The delay in his Notre Dame commitment was the only waiting he was willing to do.

“I didn't really care what any other school had to offer me,” McNamara said. “From what I saw at Notre Dame and what I believe in, there's nothing better that I could see. No other school could offer me what Notre Dame had.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Quarterback Cade McNamara, a 2019 recruit, gave Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly his verbal commitment in person last week (Photo courtesy of Student Sports).