Naples (Fla.) Barron Collier tight end Mike Heuerman's name has been on the recruiting landscape for nearly a year, but his recruitment really picked up a few months back when Notre Dame extended his first scholarship offer. Being the first program to offer always seems to leave a lasting impression, and the Irish benefited from doing so when it came time to decide.
TE Mike Heuerman is the 12th verbal commitment of Notre Dame's 2013 recruiting haul.
Purdue, Miami, LSU, South Carolina, South Florida and others followed suit, but the process became that much more interesting when Ohio State extended one in his direction, which is where his older brother, Jeff, is a sophomore tight end.
While the speculation was that he would turn around and make a quick pledge to the Buckeyes, the 6-4, 220-pound four-star tight end decided to wait things out and see what the programs had to offer.
Heuerman took visits to Miami and LSU, but his recruitment started to take shape after traveling to South Bend in late March for his first look at Notre Dame. He frequented Miami's campus the most considering its proximity, but took a return-extended trip to Notre Dame in mid March after feeling a high level of comfort on the most recent visit to Coral Gables for its spring game on April 14. He was still set to be in Columbus on April 21 for the Buckeyes' spring game and wanted to wait until his brother was home to announce on April 27, but he wasn't opposed to moving up his timeline.
"If I'm ready to commit when I get back then I might go ahead and do it," the nation's No. 9 tight end nationally, No. 26 prospect in Florida and the country's No. 214 overall recruit told BlueandGold.com following the three-day trip to South Bend. “I'm not in a rush to commit or anything, but I'm not going to hold back if I know where I want to go.
"Hopefully it will be on Monday, but if I need more time than I'll wait until later in the week because I don't really have a set timeline or anything."
After telling us on Monday morning that his decision would happen "soon," Heuerman decided to stick with the plan of committing to a program earlier than the announcement date – and it worked out in Notre Dame's favor as he made it official after receiving a visit from Tony Alford and Scott Booker on Thursday.
The Florida native seeing Miami twice in 10 days admittedly made him feel a connection to the program, which was what prompted the quickly planned trip to Notre Dame to be sure he felt more comfortable in South Bend without the presence of defensive end Aaron Lynch.
"I was mainly with Aaron last time, so I wanted to get back out there to meet some of the other guys," Heuerman said. "What stood out to me the most was that I didn't realize how good a people most of the players are. That's one thing you should really look for.
Heuerman is rated by 247Sports as the No. 9 tight end in the land.
"I know what Tyler (Eifert), Troy (Niklas) and all of them are like now. It was a good time to get up there and figure out some of those other things and what they're like."
Heuerman, who had 23 catches for 340 yards and five touchdowns as a junior, wasn't prepared to say no to LSU, Miami, Notre Dame or Ohio State heading into the weekend, and he was hoping the last stop would put him in position to be able to do so.
"I feel kind of stuck," he said of his upcoming choice. "It's a very difficult decision. At the end of the day somebody is going to be mad about the decision I make. But I really have to try and just do what is best for me and understand that I'm the one going through the experience. I'm the one that will have to live with these decisions."
While there are certainly some that become bitter over losing a recruit, that feeling is felt much more often than gaining one.
Another factor that played in favor of Notre Dame was the relationship that Heuerman was able to build with Irish assistant Tony Alford, notably one of the stronger recruiters, if not the strongest, on the coaching staff.
"It's cool being able to build those types of relationships," he said of his familiarity with Alford. "At the end of the day you want to have a coach that you can trust and I feel that way about the coaches at Notre Dame."
Heuerman gained some knowledge while taking visits and wanted to choose the program that he could see himself being the happiest "with or without football."
Notre Dame was that program in the end.
Heuerman is the 12th verbal commitment for the Irish.
Check back with BlueandGold.com for more from Notre Dame's newest pledge.