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Nico Iamaleava and Jack Ressler were among a small group who flew out from Southern California to South Bend, Ind. late Friday night and arrived at about 4:30 a.m. ET Saturday morning. After a quick nap, the talented recruits were ready to take in the Notre Dame experience before flying back out Saturday night.

Iamaleava, a class of 2023 quarterback from Downey (Calif.) Warren, and Ressler, a class of 2024 wide receiver from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, both left Notre Dame’s campus armed with a new scholarship offer from the Fighting Irish.

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Four-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava during his Notre Dame visit.
Four-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava during his Notre Dame visit. (Chad Weaver Blue & Gold)

Notre Dame an instant contender for Iamaleava

The Fighting Irish coaching staff had been in some contact with Iamaleava, who ranks as the nation’s No. 48 overall player and No. 4 pro-style quarterback, but it wasn’t a whole lot.

“Before, I wasn’t really in contact with them and then they started texting me a little bit,” he said. “I visited on Saturday, and it was all love.”

Notre Dame joins the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon on the 6-6, 195-pounder’s offer sheet. The Irish may have been a few months behind some other schools in offering, but Iamaleava strongly stated that it won’t negatively impact Brian Kelly’s program in his recruitment.

“Definitely not,” he said. “The experience I had with the coaches and the environment definitely impacted my recruitment.”

Although it was a short visit, the trip to Notre Dame made a big impact on Iamaleava’s recruitment. The Irish should be considered a top contender already for the four-star gunslinger.

“The coaches, the family environment and the tradition was just amazing,” continued Iamaleava. “It would great to be a part of it. The coaches were really loving. A lot of coaches won’t talk to you at the games, but these guys were really hands on, and I really enjoyed my time over there – the most on any visit I’ve been to.”

Iamaleava received his verbal scholarship offer during a chat with Irish offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees.

“He got in contact with me a couple months back, but we lost contact for a little bit,” noted Iamaleava. “They needed to see my transcripts, and he said that he wanted me to know that I had an offer. We’re going to build our relationship more from here on out.

“I have huge interest; I loved everything about Notre Dame. I was smiling when I got Notre Dame. Now I can continue to build the relationship with the coaching staff.”

Iamaleava already plans to return to Notre Dame next month when the Irish host USC. He wants to see a few other programs as well.

“I plan on visiting Tennessee soon,” he said. “I’ll for sure get up to Oregon. I want to get up to Penn State too.”

Irish after another Mater Dei wide receiver

Iamaleava and Ressler’s visit to Notre Dame was set up on short notice. They didn’t know they’d be making the trip to Northern Indiana until a few days beforehand.

The experience couldn’t have gone much better for Ressler.

“It was great,” he said. “We started the day off by heading to the training facility and had the lunch. We had a photoshoot and met some of the coaches. I talked with Coach Del Alexander. We went over to the stadium and watched the team. The atmosphere of Notre Dame is second to none. It definitely gave me chills.”

Ressler started talking with Alexander, the Irish’s receivers coach, recently, and while Ressler wasn’t taken aback when he received the news of the offer, he still had strong emotions.

“I wouldn’t say it was surprising, but it definitely gave me chills when it happened,” he added. “I’m blessed to be in the position I’m in, and I don’t take it for granted.

“Coach Alexander is a great guy. You can tell that he loves to teach the game. I could tell that about him right away. He’s a super cool guy and very laid back. He can drop knowledge on you.”

It was a packed house inside Notre Dame Stadium for the Irish’s 27-13 victory over Purdue.

“The atmosphere was crazy,” Ressler said. “The fans were in sync and locked in on the game. It was the craziest experience I’ve had so far.”

Mater Dei is inarguably one of the top high school programs in the country and currently ranks as MaxPreps’ No. 1 team nationally. The lead receiver on the squad through two games is Irish pledge CJ Williams, someone who Ressler looks up to.

“He’s a super cool guy,” Ressler said of Williams. “I’ve definitely learned a lot from CJ. He’s a great teammate and an even better person. I learn as much as I can from him.”


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