For the first time in over 240 days, five-star defensive lineman Justin Scott made it to Notre Dame for an unofficial recruiting visit. It was a trip about five times in the making for the Chicago St. Ignatius College Prep junior.
“Just because they were such a high priority for me,” Scott told Blue & Gold, explaining why he wanted to return to Notre Dame. “I haven’t been there in a while. Just being able to connect with the coaches again.”
Scott last checked out the Irish for its 2024-focused cookout on July 26. He attempted to return for the Marshall (Sept. 10) and Clemson (Nov. 5) games, but family circumstances prevented it. But that didn’t keep the Irish from going all in on the On3 Industry Ranking’s No. 11 overall player, No. 2 defensive lineman and No. 1 player in Illinois.
On the first day of the January contact period, head coach Marcus Freeman, defensive coordinator Al Golden, defensive line coach Al Washington, wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey, and former offensive coordinator Tommy Rees all stopped by St. Ignatius. That visit sparked a Jan. 31 commitment date, on Scott’s 17th birthday, only for him to later walk it back after a Georgia offer.
Meanwhile, Scott was also supposed to visit Notre Dame in January but did not make the trip despite setting one up twice.
Scott receives Freeman’s full attention
2024 defensive lineman Justin Scott (left) and Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman (right). (Kyle Kelly/Blue & Gold)
During his visit, Scott received much attention from Freeman, Golden, Washington and director of recruiting Chad Bowden. Freeman met with the Scott family before practice and escorted them into the Irish Athletics Center for Saturday’s session.
Freeman presented the Scotts with the opportunities Notre Dame provides outside of football for its players. Among the examples he used were Isaiah Foskey’s study abroad trip and a professional engagement experience in New York.
Although Scott is one of the top defensive linemen in the 2024 class and has NFL aspirations, Freeman’s explination of Notre Dame’s benefits off the field resonated with him.
“Life after football is a huge factor,” Scott said. “I want to say that maybe higher than getting to the NFL because the average player plays what — three years in the NFL? At that time, you’re still in your 20s. So you still have your whole life ahead of you.”
The amount of attention Freeman gave Scott only compares to the head coaches at Ohio State (Ryan Day), Miami (Mario Cristobal) and Michigan (Jim Harbaugh). Still, no head coach has given Scott the same time of day as Freeman.
“I spent more time with Freeman than any other coach,” Scott said. “I want to say maybe Cristobal, but coach Freeman, yeah. I spent the most time with him.”
Scott evaluates Al Washington during practice
2024 defensive lineman Justin Scott (right) observes Notre Dame defensive line coach Al Washington (left) during spring practice. (Kyle Kelly/Blue & Gold)
Throughout the media-portion viewing of Saturday’s practice, Scott closely watched Washington as he instructed the defensive line during position drills. And one thing stuck out above the rest.
“Coach Washington is big on technique,” Scott said. “I saw, at times, some players would mess up on a little part, and coach Washington would make them redo it because technique is over skill.
“If I ended up going there, that guy will be coaching me, developing me. So, I just wanted to see how he gets down and works.”
Scott also met with Washington after practice. And Notre Dame’s second-year defensive line coach kept the conversation geared toward life rather than football.
“Honestly, we didn’t talk about ball,” Scott said. “We really just caught up. Giving life dates, what’s been going on. Just talking.”
Golden also stopped by to visit with Washington during that meeting.
Kyle Hamilton and Scott connect
Also during Saturday’s practice, Scott met former Notre Dame safety and first-round NFL draft choice Kyle Hamilton. The current Baltimore Raven, Hamilton, gave Scott a glimpse into his transition from playing for the Irish to the NFL.
“I really just asked him about the combine and draft,” Scott said. “Because I had seen a lot of videos saying how the combine doesn’t really prepare you or isn’t really necessary. He told me people will try to get in your head and throw you off just to see when you fold — you just have to stay yourself.”
Scott details his recruitment status
2024 DL Justin Scott during a visit to Notre Dame in July 2022. (Photo provided)
Following his third visit to Notre Dame, Scott is considering making his fourth an official one.
“Since Notre Dame is so close, I’m thinking about maybe officially visiting,” he said. “But honestly, since it’s so close, I can really just drive there, spend a few days there, and come back. They could possibly get an official visit.”
Scott has official visits scheduled to Georgia (June 2) and Ohio State (23). He will also unofficially visit Miami during a spring break trip on April 10. Though Scott doesn’t have a return trip set to South Bend, Notre Dame’s proximity to home (about 100 miles) could end up working in its favor.
“Yeah, definitely,” Scott said. “I’m a momma’s boy, so I can’t be too far from my mom. So them (Notre Dame) just being an hour-and-a-half away, that plays a huge role.”
At this point in his recruitment, Scott said he does have a favorite but did not disclose the team.
“I want to say, yeah, right now, there is a leader,” Scott said. “But the reason I did take a step back from the commitment was just so I can see other places. Just take my officials and enjoy the process.”
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