The way Ben Councell sees it, there's positive attached to the only negative surrounding his commitment to Notre Dame. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound outside linebacker from Asheville, N.C., made his decision Sunday afternoon after conferencing with his parents, then placing a call to Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston to relay the news to South Bend.
After making the trek to the Midwest a week ago, Councell can appreciate the distance his parents John Mark and Victoria will have to travel to see him play live. Then again, the Councell family can strike college tuition from future budgets, possibly freeing up travel funds.
"That was the only down part, the fact that it's so far away," Councell said. "But with the money my parents are saving on college, they can fly up. My dad came up with me on my visit and saw Notre Dame firsthand, so it was fine with him. He loves the school and the academics."
The athletic fit isn't bad either. In fact, Councell said the chance to join Bob Diaco's 3-4 hybrid defense on the ground floor played a major part in Notre Dame beating out Georgia Tech and West Virginia for his commitment. Councell visited the Yellow Jackets the week after seeing the Irish. A trip to see the Mountaineers was up for discussion.
"It was a great visit up at Notre Dame, but I was thinking about how every visit I've taken thus far that coming out of it I'd been thinking, 'Wow, this is the place for me,'" Councell said. "My dad knew that I liked it, but he wanted me to take a visit to Tech just to think about it. So I visited Tech and loved it, but it just wasn't the place. Notre Dame just had a lot more pieces that fit me."
Councell knew he wanted to play in a 3-4 style defense, which eliminated the in-state programs. Notre Dame not only offered the odd front, it had an open depth chart that could mean early playing time.
"That defense just fits me," Councell said. "Basically the coaches told me that if I work hard that I could possibly be starting my freshman or sophomore year. The chance to come up and make a difference, that was a big deal."
Councell said the Irish defense has elements of what he runs at A.C. Reynolds High School, where he led the program to a state championship last season. Head coach Shane Laws agrees, although the linebacker's match with Notre Dame extends off the field too.
"It was just the total package of everything," Laws said. "The things that coaches up there were stressing really stood out, mainly how the coaches were stressing development on the football field, in the classroom and spiritually. That's what he was looking for."
Early enrollment could be an option for Councell, who said he'll look into arriving in South Bend next January. He added that he's unsure about his official visit date, but said the Michigan weekend was a strong possibility.
"Football started today for our high school and I kind of wanted to get this out of the way," Councell said. "Once I made the commitment, it was a big load off my shoulders."