Chris Brown knows all about the traditions of Notre Dame football. He got to be part of it over the weekend when he made an official visit to South Bend, Ind., to tour the campus and watch the Fighting Irish play Michigan State.
"They offer everything," said the two-sport star from Hanahan High School who became the 15th member of Notre Dame's 2012 recruiting class when he committed Sunday night. "The education, the football team and things like that. The tradition speaks for itself. I got to walk past 'Touchdown Jesus' with the Notre Dame players. I was sold right there. It was great fun and I got to see a great game."
"Touchdown Jesus" is a mural on the Hesburgh Library and is one of the most recognizable college monuments in the country. The mural got its nickname because of the raised position of Jesus' arms and its location directly behind the north end zone of the football stadium.
Brown will become the second player from Hanahan to play for the Irish since the 1980s. The other was offensive lineman James Farmer.
Brown, a 6-2 senior, is one of the most talented athletes in the Southeast. He had the top two long jumps by a high schooler in the country last spring. And, of course, Brown plays football. He caught 52 passes for 1,098 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. He also had three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and four TDs on the defensive side of the ball.
However, he broke his collarbone in the second game of the 2011 season and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
The injury didn't affect his recruiting. His father, Joe Brown, hinted over the summer that his son might stay in-state and play for South Carolina.
"But I wanted him to see what was out there," the elder Brown said. "We wanted him to be exposed to as many different situations as possible. I'm ecstatic that he's going to Notre Dame. It's a great school, and the great tradition speaks for itself. I still want him to visit other schools."
Brown's mother, Latisha Stembridge, and father worked together to come up with a college plan.
"We allow Chris to have 80 percent of the say," Joe Brown said. "We both want him to make the right decision. The main thing is we want him to play for a coach who sees how good he is and how good he can be."
Joe Brown worked for the Department of Defense and was in Iraq from September 2005 until May 2010, when he returned to the United States.
"One of the main reasons I returned was to be here for those adolescent years," Brown said. "They can be tricky."
Brown's final five choices included Notre Dame, LSU, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech and South Carolina. LSU and USC both have strong track teams, and Cincinnati was on the list because it was the first school to offer Brown a scholarship.
Brown, who was the Gatorade state track and field player of the year, plans to play both sports in college. He competed in a track meet in Puerto Rico over the summer and became friends with another Notre Dame recruit, Ronald Darby, a defensive back from Oxon, Md.
Brown and other high school football players can sign binding national letters of intent on Feb. 1.