The arms race in recruiting rages on. First it was flashy to take the plane to go recruit a big name, then helicopters were all the rage (they still are, to be fair). Now Notre Dame may be sparking a new trend, with the Irish sending their football program’s equipment truck to Savannah in an effort to win over 5-star wide receiver Demetris Robertson.
ND One, as it was dubbed by Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, was parked directly across the street from Robertson’s home in Savannah, Ga. on Thursday morning. As noted by our friends at For The Win, it was also expected to be outside Savannah Christian Preparatory School, where Robertson has starred on the football team. The distance between South Bend, Ind. and Robertson’s school? Either 918 or 921 miles, depending on which route the Irish equipment managers drove. Given the fact that there were three coaches in the car — Sanford, wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock and tight ends and special teams coach Scott Booker — there probably wasn’t a lot of extra cab space for the ride, which would have taken more than 13 hours, and likely a full 14.
So, there you have it. The price of expressing a coaching staff’s sincere interest at the moment is approximately 40 man hours, not counting the poor soul who is stuck driving the big rig. And that was just on the way down.
And make no mistake: Notre Dame was going to this effort for Robertson, the top prospect still on their radar as they head toward National Signing Day.
“I do think this is just a Demetris Robertson situation,” Tom Loy, the publisher of Irish247, a Notre Dame sports and recruiting website, told USA TODAY. ” I don’t think they’re going to use this for another target. Their mentality was, ‘You’re the number 1 guy on the board and we want you to be the face of the brand for years to come and we’re going to bring the brand to you.’
“I was told that this was a couple weeks in the works, and this was a complete team effort from the Notre Dame staff starting with head coach Brian Kelly, recruiting coordinator Mike Elston, player personnel director David Peloquin, tight ends coach Scott Booker, wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford. They all came together and wanted to do something different, but not something hokey and corny, and they thought, ‘Why not bring the brand to our top target?’ That was the mentality there.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Notre Dame has tried to make a big splash. The Irish have made an annual tradition of their Pot of Gold campaign, where they mass mail top recruiting targets with golden Notre Dame specific messages.
It’s too early to tell if Notre Dame’s unique grand gesture will sway Robertson, though it clearly left an impression on the teen, according to an interview he gave ESPN.com.
“I’m still smiling,” Robertson told ESPN. “I couldn’t believe it, I’m still shocked. I didn’t get a chance to see what was in it, because I had to hurry off to school.”
For his part, Loy is confident that Notre Dame’s big gesture will help the Irish get their man.
“I do think they’re going to get him, and I have a 247 Crystal Ball pick saying it. I know he’s down to a few schools, and his top two at this point are Notre Dame and Stanford and he hasn’t been admitted to Stanford yet. I think he’ll be at Notre Dame either on National Signing Day or after that if he takes official visits to Alabama and Stanford before finally making a decision.”