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Recruits enjoy new facility

Mike Gilloon | Friday, August 26, 2005

So much of Notre Dame leaves visitors in awe. The Golden Dome, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto. But in past years, recruits haven’t been overwhelmed by one aspect of campus – the football facilities.

That all changed earlier this month with the opening of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, better known as the “Gug.” The new facility houses every aspect of the football program from the coaches’ offices to the locker rooms.

“It’s an amazing place,” senior Irish receiver Matt Shelton said.

There’s even a recruiting lounge featuring 11 national championship banners and a second-floor picture window with a view of campus.

“When the recruits come in, they are going to see the football program has really taken a step up,” Shelton said. “They are going to love it.”

One complaint from potential recruits making visits in the past was the locker room’s location at Notre Dame Stadium. This required the team to suit up in the stadium, then walk several blocks just to reach the practice field. This factor, combined with a weight room paling in comparison to places at schools like Texas and Nebraska, made choosing a school besides Notre Dame easier for many players.

But, according to current Irish players and recruits, the Irish football program does not lag behind any more.

“A new facility like this puts us on another level,” sophomore running back Darius Walker said. “You now get the school with the tradition, and at the same time you get the new facility with the top notch weight room and training program.”

Bartley Webb, an offensive lineman from Springdale, Ark., who verbally committed to Notre Dame on Aug. 6, was surprised and impressed when he first saw the “Gug.”

“It’s an unbelievable, top-of-the-line facility,” Webb said.

Webb, a four-star recruit (out of a possible five) by Scout.com, said the complex is in the “same ballpark” as facilities at Tennessee and Arkansas. But the school’s history and tradition, combined with the new facility, convinced Webb to play for the Irish.

Before his unofficial visit to Notre Dame, Webb had heard Notre Dame’s facilities were not in the upper echelon of college football. But when he arrived and found out the school was finishing up the new complex, he was impressed.

“Looking at what they had compared to what they have now, it blew me away,” Webb said. “It helped quite a bit knowing I’d be in a brand-new facility with state-of-the-art equipment.”

Notes

u Irish senior linebacker Brandon Hoyte is one of 65 players named to this year’s Butkus Award watch list. The award honors the country’s top linebacker. Hoyte, Notre Dame’s defensive captain, tallied 74 tackles and three sacks last season.