It took much longer than we expected but Mission Viejo (Calif.) tight end Konrad Reuland has finally made his college choice known moments ago committing to Notre Dame. Reuland, the top rated player at his position nationally, had narrowed his choices to the Irish, USC and UCLA.
It's been an interesting ride for Reuland these past few years. The first time we saw the 6-6, 240 pound athlete was at a summer passing league tournament prior to his sophomore year. At that time, Reuland had never played football before having just transferred to Mission Viejo from Mater Dei.
"I was always a basketball player and that's what I saw myself doing," Reuland said. "Mater Dei really didn't like players to play more than one sport so I felt the move to Mission Viejo would allow me to do that. I knew Mark (Sanchez) really well at the time and he had recently transferred in and really liked it there so I decided to make the move as well."
Despite being new to the game, it didn't take long to see Reuland had natural ability on the football field. For starters, when you're 6-6, can run and are coordinated, there is going to be some obvious upside there. Reuland's days on the basketball court were a big plus as well.
"You have to be strong and have good hands to play the post in basketball so moving to tight end, it was a smooth adjustment," Reuland said. "Plus it wasn't like I had never touched a football before. I had played growing up and loved the game, I had just never played organized ball until my sophomore year."
As a skinny sophomore, Reuland showed a lot of promise but was more of a role player in the Diablos offense. He continued to get bigger and stronger, adding about 15 pounds between his sophomore and junior year and then really blew up last year. The tight end caught 47 balls for 800 yards and seven touchdowns earning 1st team all-state underclass as well as Student Sports Junior All-American honors.
"Everything came together last season," Reuland said. "Not just for me but we had a great team and everyone was so focused on getting better and competing every game. I got a lot of single coverage because teams didn't really know much about me and having Mark at quarterback was a huge help too. He could put the ball right there for you so it was just about running my route, finding an open spot to settle in and then catching the ball.
"The thing I was most proud about though was my blocking. I really worked hart at because I honestly wasn't that good at before last season. We ran the ball a lot and by the end of the year, I felt like I was a very good run blocker."
Going back to the summer, Reuland's first offer came in from Nebraska and soon, the offers came flooding in. When USC offered, many thought that would be the end of his recruitment and a commitment would soon follow. After all, USC had just won their second straight national title, but more than that, his quarterback and good friend, Mark Sanchez was headed to SC.
"Yeah, a lot of people thought I was going to commit early," Reuland said. "I just really wanted to check out some other schools and once I did that and saw what else was out there, I realized that I was not ready to make a decision. That was my plan, to commit before the season but after I took some visits, I decided I wanted to go through the process, take an official visit or two and then make my decision."
One of those visits was to Notre Dame and Reuland was sold almost immediately.
"That was an incredible trip," Reuland said. "I was just in awe being there and the atmosphere and everything that goes along with it really blew me away. I had never felt an energy like that before and they weren't even playing one of their rivals that game.
"I couldn't find a single negative about the visit to be honest. I loved the academics and the coaches. I love the offense and how they use the tight end. Coach Weis is just a great coach with a proven track record and I know he's the guy to get the most out of my ability.
"I liked South Bend as a city as well. I've been told it's a boring place and can get cold but that's fine for me. I'm not a big party guy anyway and I just want to focus on football and schoolwork once I get to college. Notre Dame provides all that for me and then the football side was just a great fit.
"It wasn't an easy decision. I mean, USC is a tough school to say no to. They're on top right now and I like the team a lot and have friends who play there. It's close to home and that's always a factor, at least a small one for me. I took my visit there for the UCLA game and had a real good time. I like coach Carroll a lot and it's just a great program but I just feel Notre Dame is the best overall fit for me and I'm looking forward to getting out there in the fall."