Though Notre dame head coach Brian Kelly expressed the terrible loss felt on behalf of the Notre Dame Football program at the tragic death of star recruit Matt James on Friday night, Kelly also felt a tremendous loss on a personal level.

James wanted to sign for Kelly when he was coach and the University of Cincinnati, and when Kelly decided to take on the challenge of turning around the fortunes on the Fighting Irish, James decided he wanted to take that journey as well and committed himself to the blue and gold.

“When a young man makes a decision to follow you to another university, you feel like you’re providing him the opportunity that he’s wanted his whole life. That makes it very personal. Obviously he chose Notre Dame, but he chose to be part of my first recruiting class too,” Kelly told

Whatever of football fortunes and football programs, Kelly was devastated by the loss felt by James’ family.

“To lose a young man at 17 years old who had such an incredible future ahead of him is tragic, but as much as I think of that I can’t get away from the heartbreak I feel for his family,” said Kelly on Saturday.

“They’re wonderful people who raised an incredible son. That’s the thing that’s hard for me.”