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January 31, 2013
John Wilkinson won't forget Wednesday even if the head coach at Cocoa High School might want to.
A week before National Signing Day, Wilkinson was forced to juggle coaching staffs from Notre Dame and Auburn, leading to some bizarre exchanges between rival recruiters in town for Tarean Folston. There wasn't much small talk among Irish assistants Chuck Martin and Tony Alford along with Tigers assistant Dameyune Craig.
"That's what made it so awkward," Wilkinson said. "I really wasn't a big fan of it, but that's just the way it is now. It was very awkward to say the least."
The four-star running back committed to Notre Dame on Jan. 2, took an official visit to Auburn on Jan. 18, and appears to have firmed up his Irish commitment following the last round of school visits from his two contenders. Wilkinson said Folston will "absolutely" sign with Notre Dame next week.
The coach said the running back will fax his signed letter of intent to South Bend before school, then go through a signing ceremony that afternoon.
"The blend of academics and athletics, the obvious value of the Notre Dame education," Wilkinson said of what kept the Irish in front. "Beyond football the networking there is huge and he understands that. When you make a decision, sometimes you have to reaffirm, go and look at something else."
Wednesday wrapped school visits for Notre Dame and Auburn with Folston. The Irish are on top for now, and Wilkinson expects that to remain status quo through next week.
"I've felt that way the whole time," he said.
Wilkinson said he didn't have a firm grasp about what piqued Folston's interest in Auburn after the Tigers showed renewed interest following a coaching change. However, Craig had a relationship with Folston dating back to his time at Florida State, which also recruited the Under Armour All-American.
Wilkinson said Alford's work on Folston for Notre Dame played a part in the running back sticking. The Irish running backs coach and Florida recruiter pulled Folston aside in the cafeteria on Wednesday to talk one-on-one.
"They did a really good job," Wilkinson said. "Both sides were really good, but obviously Notre Dame did. They just kind of talked to him, didn't want to put him in a bad spot."