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July 3, 2012Greer Martini didn't think he'd see anything better. So the rising junior stopped looking.
On Tuesday the 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker from the Woodberry Forest School in Virginia became Notre Dame's first commitment in the Class of 2014 and the earliest verbal commitment for the Irish in the Rivals.com era. Martini also held offers from Maryland, North Carolina State and William & Mary. Virginia Tech and Penn State had been showing interest.
Martini first visited Notre Dame last winter, then returned for summer camp late last month. That's when the Irish put a scholarship offer on the table through head coach Brian Kelly, following an evaluation by defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Bob Diaco.
"I had gone to camp and had already visited Notre Dame, so I'd gotten to know the coaching staff and saw all the facilities," Martini said. "I came back for camp, revisited those areas, obviously sat down with the coaches a little more extensively.
"My parents and I decided. The combination of athletics and academics, that was basically what made the final decision. I couldn't think of a better place than Notre Dame."
Woodberry Forest produced Irish freshman CJ Prosise and includes top senior target Doug Randolph. The private school in Virginia also turned out former Irish targets Aramide Olaniyan (UCLA) and Ed Reynolds (Stanford) during the '10 cycle. The Prosise connection played well for the Irish.
"I think it helped out a lot just because CJ was an excellent player here and has already told me how much he enjoys it there," Martini said. "He's told me how much coming from Woodberry Forest to Notre Dame, how it's a great fit. I obviously looked up to him as a player here."
Martini projects at inside linebacker for Notre Dame, a position where the Irish landed senior target Michael Deeb last week.
Martini posted 66 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions and five fumble recoveries last season. He said he runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.7 range.
"The best way to describe my game is I can read plays before they happen," he said. "I might not be the fastest guy on the field, but I can diagnose plays, read them, and be there as quickly as anybody else. I have great instincts to tell where the ball is coming from. And I'm long enough with my arms to get back on passing plays and break things up."
As much as Martini might have been predisposed to favor Notre Dame, coming from a feeder school for the University outside of the football program, it might have been Diaco who closed the deal.
Notre Dame's defensive coordinator visited Woodberry Forest during the spring evaluation period to check out Martini go full speed. By the time the junior got to South Bend this summer, Diaco had already made up his mind.
"I think that he was straight-forward and very truthful about the whole situation, very up-front about how he felt," Martini said. "A lot of recruiters tell you a bunch of stuff that sounds good that flatters you. Coach (Diaco) was just really straight-forward with me.
"The thing that was really honest with me was when he told me he'd already come to a decision on me after coming to see me during practice and watching me with pads on. He said that now it was time for me to evaluate him as a coach. I didn't have to worry about testing and could just play football. That took a lot of pressure off before camp even started."
Martini said he doesn't plan to do early enrollment despite being such an early commitment.
"I'm realizing how lucky I am to be a part of Notre Dame," Martini said. "It's just incredibly exciting to make history, but then again, I wanted to get this over with early. I'm excited that I will."