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January 31, 2010When Derek Roback earned all-state honors as a sophomore wide receiver he didn't know it would help him land a scholarship offer to one of the nation's elite college football programs.
The 6-foot-3, 221-pounder from Waverly, Ohio played the next two years at quarterback and showed enough athleticism to warrant a late scholarship offer from Notre Dame. Roback made an official visit to South Bend over the weekend and before leaving on Sunday he verbally committed to the Irish.
"I actually had breakfast with coach (Brian) Kelly this morning. I definitely made it known I was going to commit, and he knew, but we went to the bookstore before we met with him," said Roback, a former Toledo commitment. "I officially committed once I met with him, just a few minutes ago. He was happy. He said I'm his type of player."
Roback's ability to play multiple positions first caught Kelly's attention in November. It was then that the former Cincinnati coach extended a scholarship offer to Roback to join him with the Bearcats. Once Kelly settled in at Notre Dame, the coach again made his pitch to Roback.
"We talked about that this morning at breakfast, just my versatility," Roback said. "He said we'll figure where I'll play later. He knows I can help this team somewhere."
Roback said it didn't take long for him to realize he wanted to play for the Irish.
He arrived on campus Saturday morning and first enjoyed a tour. That's all it took for him to make the decision. Getting to know the Notre Dame coaching staff only helped the Irish cause.
"That pretty much solidified it," he said. "Being around the coaching staff, they are a very, very good staff to be around. They are easy to be around. (The comfort with the coaching staff) was something that I was hoping for and I definitely got it."
Roback said his parents were on board with his decision.
"They're really excited; I think we all are," he said. "It's a great opportunity; I was definitely not going to let it pass."
After spending Saturday meeting with Notre Dame academic personnel and checking out many of the famous campus landmarks, Roback spent the evening with host Dan Fox and several of the other Irish players and recruiting visitors.
"We went to one of the Golic's house and hung out there for a while," he said. "We had a good time. We all got along real well. I met Dayne Crist and Kyle Rudolph and got along real well with them. They are the kind of guys like me. We had a lot in common."
Although the recruiting process didn't go exactly according to plan, Roback couldn't be more pleased with how things turned out.
"I'm feeling relieved," he said. "Something like this has always been my dream and it's finally come true. I get to play for one of the best traditions in the country."