Whenever Tee Shepard talks about Notre Dame he cannot help but smile thinking about his future in South Bend and making a name for himself so far away from home.
Twenty-six other programs offered the Fresno (Calif.) Central East cornerback and he could have played anywhere in the Pac-10 and at a lot of SEC schools but Shepard wanted to carve out his own identity at the school he's always loved.
"The reason I committed so early to Notre Dame was because I had 27 offers and I didn't want to play with coaches' minds," Shepard said recently at the Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 in Las Vegas.
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"They have their own job to do. My plan was to commit to Notre Dame at the Army Bowl. That was my whole plan. I love Notre Dame. Ever since the day they offered me, May 10 of 2010, coach (Mike) Denbrock, coach Brian Kelly, I love those guys."
Shepard, a physical 6-foot-1 shutdown cornerback, has already accepted his U.S. Army All-American Bowl invite and he wrapped up his recruitment by committing earlier this month to the Irish.
Waiting until the Army bowl in January didn't seem fair to the coaches recruiting him plus Shepard said calls and e-mails were coming in so frequently that at times he was forced to shut his cell phone off.
By getting his pledge out of the way early - even before the spring and summer evaluation period - allows him to relax a little bit and it lets coaches know he's solid in his commitment.
"I was talking to my parents about going to Notre Dame and I've talked to my coaches about going to Notre Dame," Shepard said. "It's where I wanted to go.
"I'm very excited. I know the history of Notre Dame, I like the program and I want to go to Notre Dame to make my own name. I don't want to go to Alabama where there are like 10 of me there."
USC, Miami, Cal, Auburn, Alabama and Oregon are just a handful of major programs that recruited Shepard, who plans to attend Notre Dame's upcoming junior day.
Since his pledge in early March, Shepard said the calls have quieted down but one thing that might perk up some coaches is that the Fresno standout said in Las Vegas that he does plan to take his five official visits.
Notre Dame, Alabama, Miami, Arizona and Oregon are under consideration for official visits this fall.
"A lot of schools did calm down," Shepard said. "They don't call my phone anymore so I'm happy. It was annoying. I got to the point where I just shut my phone off. It was stopping me from doing what I was doing.
"I'm going to take my five visits (but) I'm pretty much set to Notre Dame. That's where I want to go."
Something else to watch in Shepard's recruitment is that his cousin, Fresno Washington Union wide receiver Deontay Greenberry, will visit for Notre Dame's junior day as well.
Greenberry, who starred at the Badger event in Las Vegas, said he definitely plans to play with Shepard in college and that he's high on the Irish. So far, only Arizona State, Washington and Washington State have offered Greenberry but many more offers could be on the way.