William Mahone didn't think Notre Dame fit his recruiting profile.
Then the four-star running back from Austintown, Ohio made a summer visit to South Bend on the advice of a friend. Then the Irish climbed over Penn State in mid-September after official visits to both programs. And finally on Friday night after Fitch High School's game against Jackson, Notre Dame scored Mahone's commitment over Pittsburgh.
"Next fall I want to take my talents to South Bend and play for the Irish," Mahone said. "I just had a feeling. I had a lot of times I wanted to commit and things like that. But after going there, I just felt something there."
Mahone sat out because of a badly sprained left ankle suffered on his first carry against Glen Oak last Friday. He'd planned to see Notre Dame's game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 but stayed home for x-rays.
Mahone knew a commitment was close for most of September, and revealed he had a leader as of last weekend. The running back believed he'd commit in the next few weeks with plans to return to South Bend for Notre Dame's night game against USC. Considering Mahone hoped to be off the market before that third Irish look, his commitment to Brian Kelly's program wasn't seen as a surprise.
Offensive line coach Ed Warinner, whose territory includes northern Ohio, led Notre Dame's recruitment of Mahone. The Irish plan to attend Mahone's game during Notre Dame's mid-October bye weekend.
Mahone said he plans to study business of communications at Notre Dame.
"They graduate I think 98, maybe it was 99 percent of their players," Mahone said. "After talking with the academic advisors and everything, I felt I could definitely succeed there and there would be no problem getting all the help I need, but I'll definitely be buckling down and getting my studies done."
At Notre Dame, Mahone will join a depth chart that's been shallow all season. The Irish will lose Jonas Gray after the year. Cierre Wood has two years of eligibility remaining although he's on pace for a 1,200-yard regular season and might not stick around South Bend that long.
Notre Dame's running back depth chart behind the upperclassmen consists of converted freshman receiver George Atkinson III and rookie Cam McDaniel. The Irish also have sophomore Cam Roberson, who's recovering from spring knee surgery after damaging multiple ligaments.
The recruiting picture at running back has Notre Dame searching for a couple commitments at the position, meaning Mahone gets the program halfway home. With Mahone's size in the commitment column, the Irish can focus on speed options Keith Marshall, Byron Marshall and KeiVarae Russell, all scheduled for official visits during the USC weekend.
"I have no problem with another running back or running backs coming in," Mahone said. "Competition makes everyone better and I'd be happy to go out there and recruit for Notre Dame because that's where I'll be playing next year and I want the team to be really good."
Mahone pointed toward Keith Marshall, the nation's No. 1 all-purpose back, as perhaps the perfect complement to his game.
"He's coming down there for an official visit," Mahone said. "That'd be great having us two back there."