BUFORD - A visit to South Bend, Ind., late last week sealed the deal for Buford defensive tackle Omar Hunter and turned a lifelong Michigan fan into a Notre Dame commitment.
The rising senior committed to the Fighting Irish on Monday night after a meeting with his parents and Buford head football coach Jess Simpson. After they adjourned the meeting, Hunter and Simpson had a list of coaches, Internet recruiting experts and others to call about the commitment.
Hunter had loads of scholarship offers, but it came down to Notre Dame and Michigan. He said Auburn, Florida and Tennessee also were in his final top five, and he visited all five places, most recently Notre Dame and Michigan last week. He visited South Bend last Wednesday and Thursday, then spent two days in Ann Arbor.
"They were always on my list, I just never thought I would go to Notre Dame," Hunter said. "Notre Dame was always in my top five, but when I went up there they just wowed me. It just seemed like the place to be.
"The hardest part is going to be calling Michigan and telling them I committed to Notre Dame. That's going to be the toughest thing."
The 6-foot-1, 300-pounder will head to Notre Dame just after fellow Buford alum Darius Walker is leaving. Walker played three seasons for the Fighting Irish before declaring early for this year's NFL Draft.
Hunter said he knows Walker, but that he hasn't talked to him recently to discuss Notre Dame. But he did get to know the current Irish players, which he said was one of the main reasons he chose the school.
"Just being around all the players and coaches, it was just unbelievable," Hunter said.
"I was just impressed with how good of guys they were and how down to earth they were. The players were such good guys. The impression left on me was when I went up there and they took me out, they went back and started studying before they even took me out."
Hunter, who made 85 tackles (13 for losses) as a junior, had never visited Notre Dame before last week. And one visit was all it took for him.
"It's just a great place," Hunter said. "It's got such a great tradition. When I went in that locker room where coach gave the speech in 'Rudy,' it was just so amazing. The Play like a Champion sign going out of the tunnel is just amazing. They just wowed me. They won me over."