Cleveland St. Ignatius offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne was the fourth Irish commit in the 2014 recruiting class and hasn’t looked back since.
While being honored as one of the rising seniors in his area at the Columbus Touchdown Club Banquet, 247Sports’ Bill Kurelic and Steve Helwagen, who work in the Ohio State market for Bucknuts, spent time with the 6-4, 290-pound four-star prospect (according to the 247Composite) to discuss his recruitment and the process moving forward.
Byrne landed six offers prior to selecting the Irish, but it came down to two programs and was another in-state battle won by Brian Kelly and Co.
“The big two that stood out for me were Notre Dame and Ohio State,” he said during the video interview. “I basically got to Notre Dame just because my relationship with the coaching staff. The offensive line coach, Harry Hiestand. I think it will be a good fit for me on and off the field. (It will be) challenging academically and I think that will fit in well with me. … I’ll be able to learn a lot from [Coach Hiestand] and really develop into a great football player.”
The Buckeyes are a difficult program to beat for a local recruit, but Byrne saw a better opportunity for him in South Bend.
“I grew up an Ohio State fan, but you kinda have to put ties away during the recruiting process and look for the schools that are best for you,” he said. “It was tough for a while. For a while I thought I was going to commit at Ohio State. The more and more I looked at Notre Dame I felt it was the best fit for me.”
Byrne, who is rated as the No. 216 overall recruit in the land, will audition at tackle, but the Irish coaching staff has told him he’ll likely be settling in at offensive guard. Considering he doesn’t play any other sports, his focus is on staying in the weight room to get bigger, faster and stronger for his final season of prep football.
As with any young player he hopes to have an opportunity to contribute early, but understands he may have to wait his turn.
“They signed five linemen this recruiting season,” Byrne said. “I’m going to get in there and compete, and try and earn a spot as quick as I can.
“Big things I’m working on right now are gaining weight and gaining strength. … Technique-wise I need to work on playing lower, that’s a big emphasis this season. I’m really trying to apply those in my training right now.”
With four pledges in two, Notre Dame is looking to add more talented prospects to the class and Byrne has already taken an active role in doing his part to help – most recently reaching out to running back Elijah Hood, who has the Irish as his leader and will be visiting campus next weekend, to invite him to the class.
"Hey man enjoy your visit to ND!," Byrne wrote via Twitter. "Best academic/athletic combo in the country. Best of luck on your decision. Join the #GoldenArmy14 [(IrishMob13 Pt. 2]."
Bill Kurelic and Steve Helwagen contributed to this story