Chris O’Leary was one reason JaDon Blair has been so high on Notre Dame.
And with the news that O’Leary is leaving his post as Irish safeties coach to head to the NFL, the Irish didn’t waste time reaching out to Blair, a top safety target for Notre Dame out of North Carolina.
“I talked to the coaching staff about him leaving,” Blair told Irish Sports Daily. “Everybody is pretty much a little heartbroken about it, even I am to a certain extent, but I’m happy for him because he gets the opportunity to go to The League and coach. That’s people’s dreams, so I’m happy for him, but at the same time, it’s kind of hurtful for me personally because I’ve built such a great relationship with Coach O’Leary over this year talking to him. It’s not going to stop. I’m going to still continue to talk with Coach O’Leary sometimes, but it plays a big role.”
In fact, Blair has already talked with O’Leary multiple times since O’Leary took the job with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“He called me two times actually, just talking about how he’s going to the NFL and just saying he wants to keep in contact with me still,” Blair said.
And O’Leary is still recruiting him to South Bend in a sense.
“His exact words were that it is still the place for me,” Blair recalled. “He believes even if he wasn’t coaching there – say he was in the NFL already and knew me – he would say that’s the place for me to be. He just feels like Notre Dame is my home and where I can do my best and be happy there.”
Blair acknowledged O’Leary’s absence will play a factor, but probably not a decisive one.
“I’m going to be 100 percent honest, it plays a certain amount of role, but it’s not extremely a lot just because you have to go to a place because of the head coach, not really the assistant coaches,” he said. “That’s something that I look into.
“I have a great relationship with Coach (Marcus) Freeman. I have a good relationship with Coach Al Golden and also the corners coach (Mike Mickens). He’s going to start contacting me more and just talking to me more. Coach O’Leary does play a role, but I just know I’ll be able to build a relationship with the other coaches just like I did with him. He might not be there, but I still trust and believe in the other coaches who are there to build that same relationship with me.”
Earlier this month, Blair announced he’s set official visits to South Carolina (May 31), Notre Dame (June 7), Michigan (June 14) and Penn State (June 21). Those remain the only officials he has locked in at the moment, but he has had discussions with LSU, Virginia Tech and Miami about potentially setting up officials there.
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