Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has been one of the focal points of the college football world the last two weeks because of his brilliant play in the midst of personal tragedy, yet he found time to chat with Irish recruit Marcus Ball in the wake of Saturday's win and it made a major impact on the three-star athlete.
"I got to go in the locker room after and talk with Manti Te'o for a few minutes," Ball said. "He was saying he has been going through a lot and what it meant to hear his name from the students and fans. Generally he said to have God and have faith and wherever you go do your best.
"Even though I have an offer from ND, he was just saying wherever I end up to pray about it and when I make my commitment stick with it and don't turn back.
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"That conversation meant a lot to me. When you talk to him he doesn't just talk about sports; he talks about God and he has a good, humble spirit."
Saturday's trip to South Bend was an unofficial visit for Ball. Besides Te'o, he also spoke with his recruiter, Mike Elston, and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
Notre Dame is one of five teams currently standing out as favorites for Ball. He expects to set an official visit with the Fighting Irish later in the process, and was encouraged by his experience Saturday night.
"Overall it was a great visit and it definitely impacts me," Ball said. "The atmosphere was rocking and the players were really passionate about ND. I've always liked Notre Dame, and one of the biggest things that influenced me is [the talk] with Manti Te'o. If I committed I know it wouldn't be a bad decision. I'm not ready to make a commitment, but that trip raised the status for them."
The other four schools atop Ball's interest list at this time are Arizona State, Michigan State, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Last weekend he was in East Lansing taking an unofficial visit with the Spartans.
"Michigan State is a great program," Ball said. "Coach [Mike] Tressel has been recruiting me for the longest time and he is a great guy. It was great seeing them play against Notre Dame because those are both teams I have offers from. The overall visit with them was good. I got there a little late so I didn't really see or talk to any coaches. But I have been there several times, and every time I go there it is great."
Ball has already started to look at scheduling official visits, and says he has one planned to Tennessee for the weekend of Oct. 19 when the Volunteers host Alabama.
The top five schools on Ball's list have all offered, but teams like Nebraska, Oregon and Miami continue to recruit the 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect and could break into that top group with an offer.