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Notre Dame extended an offer to Lombard (Ill.) Montini linebacker Nile Sykes just last month, but after a weekend official visit to South Bend the three-star's decision was made.
"When the offer came in, I was very excited," Sykes said. "Just knowing what type of program they are with the history, the academics and playing big-time football. It's just an amazing opportunity.
"I came into this official visit with my eyes and ears wide open, taking everything in, trying to get a feel for the place and I loved it up here. It is a beautiful campus, I loved the coaching staff and I think I really get along well with Coach [Brian] Kelly."
Sykes informed the Notre Dame coaching staff of his decision to commit before leaving South Bend on Sunday. He was joined on the official visit by his parents and two siblings, who went to the local bookstore to load up on Notre Dame apparel before leaving campus.
"They love it and they're excited," Sykes said. "They could care less about the football part of it. They love football, but they're more in it for life after football and to graduate with this degree will set me up for a bright future."
The education aspect of Notre Dame was a big factor in making the decision to commit for Sykes.
"With a degree from Notre Dame, I'm pretty much set even if I don't go to the NFL," Sykes said. "To earn a degree like that and still play big-time football was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
This weekend was a large one of official visits in South Bend. Though most of the recruits were previously committed, Sykes felt comfortable with the commits and players alike.
"My host was Devin [Butler] and it was almost as if I had been there before and they had already known me," he said. "It wasn't weird hanging out with those guys and I feel like I got along with them really well. Everyone accepted me and everyone was welcoming with me."
Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco had left just a few days prior to Sykes' visit to take the head coaching job at UConn. That was after his primary recruiter, Chuck Martin had left earlier in the month to take the Miami (Ohio) job. Sykes initially expressed concern over Diacco's departure, but in the end realized it was not critical to his own choice.
"It didn't really factor in," he said. "That's college football, and I think you don't pick a school based upon the coaches. Of course they help because that's who you are going to build a relationship with, but you have to want to be at that school. I am sure Coach Kelly is going to bring in somebody or promote somebody who is fit for the job."
Notre Dame sees the 6-foot-1, 219-pound Sykes manning one of their inside linebacker positions when he arrives next summer.
Josh Helmholdt is the Midwest Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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