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Meet 4-Star RB Justin "The Thurmanator" Thurman, The Newest Commit In The 2025 Class

Written by Ryan Fravel, Recruiting Analyst - Twitter: @Fravel_Ryan

Photo By Sports Illustrated

When you talk about Notre Dame recruiting, you will hear a term pop up quite a bit - "A Notre Dame Kid", which is a kid that typically comes from a private high school and has heavy interests in academics and religion. This description couldn't portray a recruit more perfectly than Justin Thurman, a 4-Star Running Back formerly of DeSmet High School in St. Louis Missouri, who now plays at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida. Thurman and Notre Dame seemed like a perfect fit for one another, and after he received an offer from the Fighting Irish on May 28th, it was only a matter of time before he committed to Notre Dame. On August 1st, that time came as the once "Notre Dame Kid" became a Notre Dame Commit, picking the Irish over the likes of Florida, Tennessee, Iowa, Kansas State, Auburn, and many more. I sat down with Justin to get more insight on not only why he chose Notre Dame, but to find out just what Irish fans are getting in Justin as an athlete and as a person.

Ryan: What made Notre Dame the team you committed to? How were they different than other schools that offered you?

Justin: "I would say definitely the culture, the academics, the program, and the people. I mean, In terms of the culture, they have the Golden Standard which is a mentality that the coaches and the players have that holds each other accountable to help each other be better. I believe that in terms of the academics and athletics, It was just the best fit for me holistically. They have a real estate program that I'm highly interested in because that's what I want to do after football. Then, they also talked about the 4 for 40, which is basically four years at Notre Dame can set yourself up for the next forty years and life. That is something that really just stuck out to me. In terms of the culture, from Coach Freeman all the way down, It's just a family environment. It's competitive, but It's collaborative, just lot's of comradery, and It's just an environment I wanna be apart of."

Ryan: What is Irish Nation getting in you as a person and a player?

Justin: "I would say they are getting just a great person overall. Off the field I'm just a great person with a great personality, very respectful and kind. I'm open to new opportunities, new challenges, and open to meeting new people too. Also, on the field too, a person that works hard, that's dedicated to the team, dedicated to working hard to put the team in the best position for success, and just to help the team win another championship."

Ryan: Which coach on the Notre Dame Coaching Staff do you feel was the most impactful in your recruitment?

Justin: "I would say I have a great relationship with all the coaches on the coaching staff but, Coach (Deland) McCullough the Running Backs Coach is the coach I have the best relationship with. He's very detailed in how he coaches as a running backs coach, and just his philosophy, his mindset of how he coaches and how he goes towards working with with running backs. He's also just a great mentor overall, I had many great conversations with him, not just about football but about life too. He's definitely just a family guy, just open and welcoming, and he's just a great coach and a great guy. Now, for Coach Freeman he is just a players coach, he's always around the players, interacting with them, just always checking in with them seeing how they are doing. He's around them all the time and is very engaged, and that's something I really like about Coach Freeman. Especially with him having six kids, he definitely understands how important family is. He has a big emphasis on family, and just how that can contribute to success on and off the field."

Ryan: Are there any players your model your game after or would compare yourself to?

Justin: "That's a great question, for the NFL specifically, I model my game after Dalvin Cook. He's a great running back, when he was at Minnesota, I believe his skillset is very similar to mine and that is the reason I try to model my game after him. Just seeing how he works, how he plays on the field, and I believe that I can be as great as someone like him."

Ryan: What impact does seeing how Coach Deland McCullough has developed guys like Audric Estime and Logan Diggs have on your commitment?

Justin: "It means a lot, I believe that he has the experience, the skillset, and the development skills to put his players in the best position to have success not only at Notre Dame, but possibly the next level being in the NFL. I believe with just his coaching and just hard work and dedication, his players can achieve great things."

Ryan: Have you talked to or had connections with any former, current, or incoming Notre Dame players?

Justin: "So, yeah I actually have a pretty good relationship with Jeremiyah Love, Christian Gray, as I actually went to school with Christian Gray my freshman year of high school, I played Varsity Football with him at DeSmet Jesuit. Then with Jeremiyah, we train together with the same trainer in St. Louis, so I got to know him pretty well through that. They too also were just really helpful in the process, just like giving me advice about Notre Dame, just what's great about Notre Dame, and what makes Notre Dame a great place. Also too, my trainer also trained Kyren (Williams) so I actually met him before, he's a great guy and just a great person overall as well."

Ryan: Do you have a nickname that you would like Notre Dame Fans to refer to you as?

Justin: "Actually I've been called "The Thurmanator" since as long as I can remember, from probably all the way back to when I was in elementary school and kindergarten even. So I've just been called "The Thurmanator", especially when I was playing flag football in elementary school, that was my nickname that my teammates called me. It just carried onto Tampa Jesuit, It's great and I just love the nickname."

Ryan: Where do you see yourself at Notre Dame?

Justin: "I see myself as a versatile back, being able to not only run the ball hard, I've actually been characterized as "running like an angry man." Also being a three down back, with my speed and my versatility as being a receiving back and being able to run the ball hard. I believe that I can contribute greatly to Notre Dame's offense. Also too, I played special teams and defense last year, I was also a returner on special teams and then on defense I played cornerback so I can use all of those skills to help better Notre Dame overall."

Ryan: Did you grow up a fan of a specific team or teams, and have you followed Notre Dame Football at all?

Justin: "So really to be honest with you, for the NFL I had the Buccaneers because my dad is actually from around the Tampa Bay area so he grew up a Bucs fan. In terms of college teams, I didn't have really a specific college team, I just watched college football. I have been watching Notre Dame for the past couple of years or so, especially with Kyren (Williams) being a main part of the offense the last couple of years. I believe they are continuing to point the program in the right direction, and I believe they can achieve great things consistently."

Ryan: Do you have any plans to get back up to South bend for a game or visit?

Justin: " Yeah, so I plan to go back to South Bend, and I plan on trying to get up there for the Ohio State game, especially with the green jerseys. I watched the video and actually, yesterday (August 1st) when the August 1st recruiting contacts can happen, I actually had a great conversation with Coach Freeman and we talked about the green jerseys and we kind of reenacted it. So yeah it was pretty funny and pretty cool. We just had a great conversation about Notre Dame and how I'm a great fit, he characterizes me as a "Notre Dame Guy" and he just believes that I can contribute greatly on and off the field at Notre Dame."

Ryan: What are your thoughts on the job Marcus Freeman is doing at Notre Dame?

Justin: "He's doing a great transition, just being a players coach, showing that he cares about the players and wants to have great relationships with each of his guys no matter what they play, or what position, or how well he knows them, or whether they're at the top of the depth chart or the bottom. Whoever it is, I believe he wants to have a relationship with every single player and he just wants to be around them, he wants them to have fun, he wants them to be kept competitive. Also too, he just wants them to just feel welcome and feel like It's a family environment, and I feel like he's doing a great job at that. I believe he is going to continue to do a great job at that and that's something I'm looking forward too."

I hope you all enjoyed the interview, to hear the full interview in It's entirety with more questions and answers from Justin click the video below.

To get to know Justin Thurman more, please give him a follow on Twitter: @JAT_2025


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