Bennett Skowronek On Notre Dame: 'It Felt Like The Place For Me'
Before former Northwestern wide receiver Bennett Skowronek entered his name in the transfer portal on Dec. 2, he put together a list of schools he'd be interested in going to.
Out of respect for those other schools, Skowronek did not indicate which programs reached out to him but, needless to say, Notre Dame was on that list. Once his name was officially in the portal, teams from every 'power five' conference, including Notre Dame, reached out.
Less than two weeks later, he was on campus for Echoes 2019 watching another 6-foot-4-inch wide receiver in Chase Claypool earn the team MVP award. By the end of the night, Skowronek felt as if South Bend was the place for him.
"As soon as I decided to enter the portal, schools start hitting you up immediately, so it was overwhelming," he said. "But Notre Dame hit me up that day as well. From there we were both mutually interested in each other and it worked out once I got up there on a visit, I think two weekends later or something. It felt like home, and it felt like it was the place for me."
He made things official yesterday, signing with the Fighting Irish as a graduate transfer. Skowronek will enroll at Notre Dame for the spring semester, starting classes in a couple of weeks.
His main recruiters were special teams and recruiting coordinator Brian Polian, wide receivers coach Del Alexander and quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees. Rees actually helped recruit Skowronek to Northwestern while he was there as a graduate assistant in 2015. Director of player personnel Dave Peloquin and director or recruiting Aaryn Kearney were also involved with the process.
Growing up, he wasn't a Notre Dame fan per se, but he did become one as players he looked up to from his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, began to play for the Fighting Irish. This includes players such as tight end Tyler Eifert, defensive lineman Tony Springmann, wide receiver John Goodman and linebackers Jaylon Smith and Drue Tranquill.
"The best guys in the area used to go to Notre Dame," Skowronek said. "Later in my childhood, I really started following Notre Dame, and once I got up there to a couple of games, the tradition blew me away."
While Skowronek is excited about this next chapter, his plan as recently as September was to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. After back-to-back 45 catch seasons in 2017 and 2018, he entered 2019 as Northwestern's go-to receiver, but an ankle injury that required surgery prematurely ended his senior season. He had 12 reception 141 in three games played this season.
The details of his injury are still a little fuzzy, but he says he is healthy and will be ready to participate in spring practice. Given his size and past production, it seems reasonable that he would compete for the boundry wide receiver position.
"I don't want to share all the stuff that coach Kelly and I talked about, but I just want to get in there and compete for a spot," Skowronek said. "I'm excited to compete. Competition brings out the best in people. I'm very excited for this opportunity and can't wait to put pads on in spring ball and fall camp and kind of see what my role is for next season."
After winning the West Division in 2018 and playing for the Big 10 Championship, Skowronek has much bigger aspirations for his time in South Bend.
"The biggest team goal is the College Football Playoff," he said. "I think it's realistic talking to the guys on the team, the talent is there. I'm really excited. That's the biggest team goal there is: to win every game there is. But for me individually, to basically just keep growing as a person and keep growing as a player. It's really that simple."
"Every day is going to be an opportunity to grow with the new environment, new coaches, new teammates, new strength staff. I think I'll be able to grow a lot as a player."