Hilliard brings his mother to see ND
Rivals100 linebacker Justin Hilliard named his five finalists late last month. Notre Dame is one of those five, and this past weekend Hilliard brought his mother to South Bend to check out the Fighting Irish.
"That was my mom's first time up there," Hilliard noted. "She really got to see everything and they were just showing her everything they have to offer.
"She said she really liked Coach (Brian) VanGorder and Coach (Brian) Kelly, then obviously Coach (Mike) Elston she knows because he's my recruiter. That was probably one of her favorite things was the coaching staff."
Hilliard, out of Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier High School, has made multiple trips to Notre Dame, but it was his first time in several months being back on their campus.
"It was definitely good going back up there just because other times I was there I didn't get a lot of time with their coaches," Hilliard said. "Coach Kelly brought all the coaching staff and all their wives in and they talked to my mom and they really showed the love to her so I thought that was pretty cool."
Ranked as the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker prospect, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Hilliard talked plenty of football with VanGorder, Notre Dame's first-year defensive coordinator.
"They're not really sure where they're looking at me, but probably more of a WILL 'backer," Hilliard said. "They run a multiple set, but mainly a 3-4. Right now scheme-wise they are going to mix things up with Coach VanGorder, come up with different packages and bring pressure, so it's mainly (projecting to) inside linebacker."
The top five for Hilliard consists of Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State, and getting that list down to his final college choice depends a lot on the visits he is taking this month and next. That commitment could come as soon as early next month.
"I'm thinking it will be a week before The Opening or at The Opening or a couple days after," Hilliard said.
Iowa is the next school on the visit schedule. His brother, C.J. Hilliard, is an in-coming freshman for the Hawkeyes who will begin his college career in just a few days.
"We are going to drop C.J. off, so I am just going to make a visit out of it - talk to the coaches, meet up with some of the players and hang out with C.J," Hilliard said. "It will be fun and we'll see bye to C.J. in private. It will be good to see some of the coaches again because I haven't been over there since the end of my sophomore season."
The visit to Iowa is planned for this weekend. Another trip to Ohio State has not been officially scheduled, but will take place soon.
"I'm not sure exactly when, but I'll probably go up for just one day and hang with either Raekwon (McMillan) or (Sam) Hubbard," Hilliard said.
With Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio State hosting Hilliard in the weeks leading up to his decision they appear to have the best shot at hearing their name when the final decision is made. He is still debating whether to take final trips to either Alabama or Michigan.
"I know Jashon (Cornell) is going there sometime soon, so maybe one more visit to Michigan with him," Hilliard said. "For Alabama I am not too sure because it is hard to fly all the way out there, but I will possibly go to one of those schools."