The Notre Dame coaching staff as well as the great tradition in South Bend, Ind., impressed one of the nation's top players on an unofficial visit this weekend.
"It was awesome, I loved it there," said Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic linebacker Brian Cushing, who visited Notre Dame for its home game against Stanford this past weekend. "The tradition there, everything you hear about, it's twice as good in person. It was a great visit."
Cushing, who lists Notre Dame as one of his five favorites, hit it off with California safety Shawn Oatis, who was there on his official visit.
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"We hung out and became friends," said Cushing. "He's a cool kid and he really liked it there as well. We got to meet with all the coaches, hang out with the players. I pretty much did everything you do on an official visit except I paid for it myself."
Cushing got to see so much on his visit that he may not need to take an official.
"I don't think I need to go back, I met so many players, talked to the coaches and got a good feel for where they want me to fit in," he said. "They're going to be good next year, I think."
Cushing talked with fellow New Jersey native Ryan Grant.
"He's from Don Bosco Prep, which is our big rival," he said. "But he was cool and told me all about Notre Dame."
Cushing had official visits set with Miami and Southern Cal, but everything has changed.
"I will still visit both, I just don't know when now," he said. "I am trying to set Louisville for Dec. 17 and once I set one visit I should be able to set the rest."
In addition to Louisville, USC and Miami, Virginia is sure to get an official visit. If Notre Dame isn't neccessary anymore, who could slide into the fifth?
"Maybe Boston College, Maryland, Ohio State or Oklahoma," he said. "I don't know just yet. I know I want to take all five."
Has Notre Dame moved into the lead?
"I haven't seen all the others yet, so that's hard to say," he said. "Let's just say they set the bar pretty high."