Interview with Irish Commit Justin Brent

With the recent news of current Notre Dame wide receivers Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson transferring, it is very important for the Irish coaching staff to adhere to their own decree of “next guy in”. With the current group of Irish  receivers starting to look very thin, it is imperative that they keep adding to the group, and they are doing just that.

As the “Golden Army” recruiting class of 2014 grows bigger, Irish fans will continue to treat recruiting a lot like dating, as they are always looking for the next best thing, and the excitement that comes with it, but it’s important to understand who you already have in front of you.

Justin Brent, current 2014 wide receiver commit out of Indianapolis, IN, is a young man who understands loyalty and commitment, and has decided to bring his talents to South Bend. We had a chance to talk with the Junior out of Speedway High School about his decision to commit, what he brings to the field, and why having family close is so important.

Bob Kollars – At this early stage with a year left, do you allow yourself to think about playing football at the next level yet?

Justin Brent – It doesn’t really hit you, even though when you’re out in public people notice you and stuff, but when you’re at home it doesn’t really enter your mind. I think when I finally hit campus officially as a student and I am done enrolling, I will allow myself to acknowledge it.

BK – Are there specific goals on the field that you have set in your mind for your final year to be considered a success?

JB – You know not really, I mean you always want to do good, but it was more important that the team to did well last year. I really didn’t pay attention to my individual numbers much, and if anything I told them team that I expected to see more double teams so the catches might not be there. My coaches came to me and said just do what I could, even it meant just being a decoy. As each game came though, I was able to still get open, and the catches and touchdowns just kept coming. So I was able to have a really successful year, and my team was winning, which was the important thing.

BK – If you were trying to defend yourself on the field, how would you do it?

JB – You know I am a big kid, so I make if difficult in the bump and run, and down field.  I am pretty strong also, so hopefully I make it difficult for all defenders to try and shut me down, but isn’t that what every wide receiver thinks though.

BK – Is there anyone in the college or the pros that you have tried to emulate your game after?

JB – You know there are people that I am really close with like Tandon Doss of the Ravens, who just won a Super Bowl, and is from just Indianapolis Ben Davis just down the street, I train with him during the summer, but there is not really a specific person I try to do that with.  I try and find guys who are my specific weight and height, and watch how they play the game on Saturdays and Sundays, and see what works and doesn’t for them.

BK –Has football always been your first love?

JB – I am not going to lie, I have always played football, but my Freshman year I was being recruited for basketball by Indiana and Purdue University. Basketball was really what I wanted to do, and I actually threw away my first letter from Texas A&M about football and I didn’t even look at it.  My sophomore year I was humbled and realized I am 6’3 and not really lightning quick on the court, so I started wondering if I had the ability to be successful at the pro or even the college level. I started watching football more my Sophomore year, and was watching what the receivers were doing on the field, and how they were running their routes and all that. So it was around my Sophomore year I would say that I started to switch my focus from the court to the field.

BK – Is that something you would consider is being a two sport player, if given the opportunity?

JB – It is something that has definitely been a topic of discussion, but I figure I have a scholarship to play football first. It has been talked about and maybe it’s something that I would consider, but we will just see how it goes from here.

BK – What was it that you were looking for in school that would make you feel comfortable calling it home for the next four years?

JB – See, my process is totally different than a lot of kids. I committed really early, while other kids are just starting to make their decisions. I started taking my trips as I went to Cincinnati, Louisville, and obviously Notre Dame and Ohio State, but after going to Ohio State I realized I just felt so comfortable at Notre Dame.  It’s not that the other schools felt wrong, but Notre Dame just felt so right. I knew I didn’t want to go some place far away like Alabama, like a lot of kids do. I knew I wanted to stay close to home in Indianapolis, and Notre Dame and where I go to school now just felt very similar. They were the first school to really show interest in me, and in fact they were the school who did a lot of things first.

BK – On the same topic, how important is it to have your family so close to where you attend school?

JB – No question, it’s the most important thing, I mean you have to be at school where your are comfortable and you have people supporting you. It’s really important that at anytime, if you need to talk to someone, they can come up, or you can go there. Bottom-line is when you have the right type of support, things typically just fall into place.

BK – For fans who have not seen you play yet, what is your strongest aspect of your game?

JB – You know I am very strong, and can bench like 330 and can jump really, really high. I also am extremely intense on the field, and have really good hands, but it’s really just a combination of all of those things.

BK – Is there more pressure on you now that you have given your verbal to perform on the field?

JB – Since I gave my verbal last year, I think I did feel a little more pressure at first.  I committed during the summer and you have people coming up to you all the time on the field and off talking about it. I feel like if your commit yourself though to your craft, everything else will just take care of itself. With that mindset I am not really feeling anymore pressure now that I decided that my Senior year is just about winning and having fun.

Brent is ranked by 247 sports as the 50th best wide receiver prospect in the country, while rivals has him as the 187 best overall prospect. Brent may see time sooner than expected if all goes well, as the Irish will suddenly have a need for wide receivers. Right now Brent is one of five early commits to the Irish, in what hopefully will be another outstanding class.

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