By Earl Bennett
During my high school career, I played both defense and offense. I was recruited by some teams as a safety and others as a wide receiver. My heart and passion was in being a wide receiver. Jerry Rice was my favorite player so I was set on being a receiver, and I always enjoyed making plays.
During my recruitment I entertained offers from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Southern Miss and Notre Dame. Each school saw me differently. Kentucky wanted me to play cornerback, Vanderbilt said “just come to our school and you can play anywhere offensively” (seriously, not joking), Southern Miss wanted me to play running back and Norte Dame wanted me to play safety. I visited Kentucky and they did not tell me what position until after I committed, so I decommitted. I went on to visit Vanderbilt and then Southern Miss knowing that I would be playing offense. But after those visits and a few calls from the defensive coaches at Notre Dame, it became apparent that they wanted me to play safety. This was a total turnoff. After sharing my displeasure, coach Charlie Weis decided to give me a call.
I was in the middle of Spanish class trying to sharpen my skills for college, when my high school coach came into the room in an uproar. “Son, what are you doing?” I recall him saying after I had ignored calls from coach Weis for a few days. My coach proceeded to hand me the phone with Coach Weis on it as he said to me “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.” At that point I knew Notre Dame was not going to be my Alma Mater. I politely told coach Weis how appreciative I was of the offer, but would not be attending and hung up the phone. It felt good, although my coach did not speak to me for the next few weeks and was not seen at signing day.
Prestigious universities have this flare to them where they shove history into the cognition of recruits. Recruits either fall for it or not. But, when you add an arrogant coach to a good school, and it becomes a prestigious prick university. I rooted for almost any other school after that experience. My view on Notre Dame is drastically skewed due to Coach Weis. According to him, I made the worst decision of my life by not attending. That could be true. Maybe I could be an All-Pro safety and a future consideration for the Hall of Fame, but that is not how life works. As we folks in the South say “If ifs were fifths, we’d all be drunk.”
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