Valley tight end Eli Raridon: Here's why I'm committing to Notre Dame football
Editor's note: West Des Moines Valley tight end Eli Raridon, the Register's No. 4 in-state 2022 football prospect, announced Sunday that he will attend Notre Dame. Raridon selected the Fighting Irish over Iowa, Iowa State and Tennessee. He explained his decision in this first-person account for the Register.
I am committing to the University of Notre Dame.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a die-hard Fighting Irish fan. I remember praying as a little kid to get a scholarship to play football at Notre Dame. Pretty much every Halloween, I would dress up as a Notre Dame football player.
And now here I am.
I took a self-guided visit to Notre Dame last weekend, and I had previously taken self-guided visits to Iowa State and Iowa in the past month. I really wasn’t expecting to make a decision based on these visits. I was just trying to get a better feel for the schools. I was pretty set on taking my official visits to Notre Dame, Iowa, Iowa State and Tennessee in June.
But after going to Notre Dame, I fell in love with the place. I really just couldn’t see myself going anywhere else. The trip was a deal-maker for me.
Notre Dame's tight end tradition is just as good as anywhere in the country. Every starting tight end since 2005 has been drafted. Getting a degree from Notre Dame was a factor, too. Basically, it’s an Ivy League, so it’s a win-win situation. The actual tight end development and the NFL chances, that’s obviously something I want to do. But if that doesn’t work, then the degree and how it sets me up has to work, too.
Obviously, me growing up as a Notre Dame fan also played a part in this decision. My dad, Scott Raridon, played offensive line for Notre Dame in the early 2000s. We'd go to a few games a year, and we watched all other games on TV. I remember nearly crying when Michigan State beat Notre Dame in 2010 on that fake field goal. So, you can imagine how big of a deal it was when I got my Fighting Irish offer in February.
But Iowa and Iowa State were right up there, too. This decision was very hard. Those Iowa State coaches were my favorite coaches to talk to. They’re such genuine guys and I got really close with them. With Iowa State’s recent tight end success, it was really tempting for me. It was tough for Iowa, too, because their tight end tradition is just as good as Notre Dame’s. I like their coaches a lot, too. It has the close-to-home factor. It would have been an honor to play for either school and I know they both would have been great places to go, as well. But, in the end, I really couldn’t see myself passing on the opportunity to go to Notre Dame. I’m sure it's the place for me. I think it was wise to make this decision as soon as I could.
For Fighting Irish fans out there that don't know me, I’m a tight end who has great size. I’m a little over 6-foot-6 without shoes and I would say I’m pretty athletic for my size. I love hitting people and getting pancakes when I’m blocking, too. I bring a lot to the table as a dual-threat tight end who can block or line up as a wide receiver.
This really is a dream come true for me. See you soon, South Bend.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Drake basketball and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.