Notre Dame football recruiting ‘starts at home’ as Irish land Indiana native Jack Kiser

Notre Dame football recruiting coordinator Brian Polian makes an appearance recently in Fort Wayne at the orchard Ridge Golf Club for a university alumni outing. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
A sign commemorates the football success at Pioneer High School in north-central Indiana as visitors enter the nearby town of Lucerne. Notre Dame received a verbal commitment from Panther star athlete Jack Kiser Tuesday. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Notre Dame freshman defender Paul Moala

ROYAL CENTER – The 2018 Notre Dame football recruiting class comprised of 27 student-athletes from 15 states which emphasized the indisputable fact that the Fighting Irish remain a nationally-relevant program.

In terms of the 2019 recruiting group, Notre Dame has 13 verbal commitments from nine different states, thus far. However, Irish recruiting coordinator Brian Polian recently addressed that issue and stressed that recruiting is a national task but it begins in Notre Dame’s backyard.

“It always starts at home,” Polian said. “For us, that means we are recruiting the top guys in the state first and for them to understand what the degree is going to mean in terms of their life beyond football.”

For Jack Kiser, that message resonated.

The Pioneer High School senior resides just 72 miles from the Notre Dame campus and pledged his commitment to Notre Dame Tuesday evening.

Kiser is the focal point of one of the most successful high school programs in Indiana and his teammates don’t have a difficult time understanding why.

“His work ethic,” recent Pioneer graduate Nate Johnson told News-Sentinel.com. “It’s unbelievable.”

Johnson played mere feet away from Kiser in the Panther secondary, as both were safeties on the 2017 IHSAA Class A State Championship squad, and he said that though Kiser was a junior he definitely was a leader.

“Jack was the one calling people out,” Johnson explained in a positive sense, “and saying ‘You need to do this and you need to do that.'”

Kiser played quarterback and safety for the Panthers, who didn’t have a close game throughout their 15-0 season. The closest any opponent came to Pioneer, which has had 22 consecutive winning seasons and played for four state championships (winning two) was 28 points.

As good as Kiser was on the football field, he matches that level of productivity academically. He ranks first in his class.

“The Kiser family exemplify student-athlete to the max,” Pioneer athletic director John Bingaman told News-Sentinel.com. “And the nice thing is that they are extremely humble. They have high expectations for themselves but they understand the team concept that team objectives are far more important than any individual accolades that they might get.”

The 6-foot-2, 206-pound Kiser is expected to play linebacker for the Irish, which will place him in front of defensive teammate Paul Moala, who came to Notre Dame from nearby Penn High School and was one of the members of the 2018 recruiting class.

“It goes back to if you have someone close to home,” Polian said of his recruitment of Moala, “you have to look there first. We know who is here and our fans in this state need to understand that we always start at home first.

“That is incredibly important to (Irish coach Brian Kelly). We’ll make sure that every guy in this state that needs to be evaluated gets a thorough evaluation.”

TIGHT END TRADITION CONTINUES

Notre Dame had five former tight ends on NFL rosters during the 2017 season and that carries significance with the nation’s best prep athletes at that position.

The Irish signed Florida native George Takacs and Georgia native Tommy Tremble in the 2018 class and on Wednesday they added 4-star recruit Kevin Bauman out of Red Bank Catholic High School in New Jersey.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Bauman chose the Irish over Boston College, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina.

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