HONOLULU?The brief gathering with the Notre Dame captains at the Sheraton Waikiki Tuesday was coming to a close when a local member of the media asked this simple question: What is it about Notre Dame that makes it such a draw?
Two-time captain and four-year starter Maurice Crum Jr. went first.
"The name Notre Dame speaks for itself," Crum said. "A lot of high character guys, great people, great organization...
"I think the biggest thing is the tradition that Notre Dame has, and it goes back forever. Just studying it and watching it, even me?and I've been here for five years?I'm still in awe of some of the guys that come around and the names that are involved with the program. It's just a life experience that I feel you can't get anywhere else."
Crum cited a personal hero, Jerome Bettis, the former Pittsburgh Steeler, and Michael Stonebreaker, an old-time Notre Dame adversary of Crum's father back in the late '80s when Crum Sr. was playing for the Miami Hurricanes.
"It's history, and those guys are real life figures," Crum Jr. said.
Wide receiver David Grimes, a man of few words, seemed eager on this day to express himself about his soon-to-be alma mater, although in typical brief fashion.
"Once you get involved with Notre Dame, you'll be involved for life," Grimes said. "One thing Notre Dame is good for is taking care of its own."
Free safety David Bruton capped it off by offering the broadest, most compelling description of Notre Dame.
"It's been a great experience," Bruton said. "Whenever we were recruiting somebody, I would just show them the campus and show them guys who walk around in the locker room every day. They are great guys who come from good homes. They have their heads on straight and they have a goal. A lot of people at a young age don't really have a goal, or aren't really sure what they want to do.
"But everyone who comes here wants to be great and has the ambition to do something great in the world, whether it's charity work or as a CEO. (They) just (want to) do something that will affect the world in a positive way. Notre Dame helps mold us into the people that we want to be."