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April 5, 2010It was a year ago when Plant City High School football coach Jason Strunk started thinking about attracting interest from Notre Dame for his star athlete Jordan Prestwood.
As a sophomore, Prestwood had grown into a budding prospect with the ability to play both offensive tackle, where he started his first two years, or tight end, where he played as a junior.
Following Plant City's spring game, Strunk sat Prestwood down to evaluate their options, deciding which programs would get highlight tapes. Strunk mentioned Notre Dame, but Prestwood figured the Irish were out of reach.
But the coach knew better.
"I'm a believer that you don't send film of all your guys to Notre Dame," Strunk said. "Notre Dame's a special fit. I think Jordan, in that class, is the one kid we had that fit Notre Dame in my opinion."
Strunk was right.
Prestwood has since put a fantastic junior season behind him, become one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country and left his Plant City, Fla., home three different times to Notre Dame.
The process culminated with a flourish Monday when Prestwood announced his verbal commitment to the Irish and head coach Brian Kelly during a press conference at his high school. However, there wasn't much drama for Prestwood, who revealed he told Notre Dame of his decision during his spring practice visit to South Bend.
"Coach Kelly is outstanding," said Prestwood, who will play offensive tackle. "Coach (Tony) Alford did a great job recruiting me. (Recruiting coordinator) Dave Peloquin gave me an unbelievable tour of Notre Dame. The entire staff is top notch and athletic director Jack Swarbrick is incredible. Notre Dame is the whole package."
Prestwood is Notre Dame's second verbal commitment in the Class of 2011, joining Ohio defensive end Brad Carrico. Prestwood chose the Irish over scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida, Florida State, Purdue, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, Texas Tech, USC and West Virginia, among others.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound prospect took recent unofficial visits not only to Notre Dame but also to Florida, Florida State, Auburn, South Carolina and Alabama before arriving at his choice.
Notre Dame hosted Prestwood last week for the third time.
Last summer he attended a camp with Strunk and they followed up with an unofficial visit for the USC game last season. Last week's trip marked the first time Prestwood had met Kelly and offensive line coach Ed Warinner.
Meeting the new coaches helped the future offensive lineman push up his commitment timetable.
"The recruiting process is over for me," Prestwood said. "This is more than a verbal commitment. My decision is final. I will not be recruited anymore."
Prestwood's commitment is a breath of fresh air for the Irish program following the tragic death of Matt James, a star offensive tackle prospect from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, who would have enrolled in June.
Prestwood acknowledged the loss of James during the announcement.
"Before I take questions," Prestwood said, "my family and I would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family of Matt James. It saddens me that I lost a fellow Notre Dame commit and future Irish teammate."