Licensed collegiate trading cards aren’t all that uncommon to find these days. However, the University of Notre Dame recently used cards as a small way to help lure prospective football players to their program.
The school has a long history with trading cards. Back in 1990, they gave a license to produce the unpopular Collegiate Collection cards, which can be found by the box for only a few bucks on eBay. Most recently, the company signed a deal with trading card giant Upper Deck to give them exclusive rights to produce licensed trading cards. Now, at least temporarily, the school has gotten into the ‘business’ of distributing them.
Word of unique ‘Pot of Gold’ trading cards being sent to potential football recruits leaked on Tuesday as the cards were reportedly given to select targets of the Irish’s 2017 recruiting class. The cards featured the recruit in question and were sent in packs of 50 to each one who had visited campus.
The cards feature the player’s name at the bottom along with numbering on the front to denote that 50 were made. The words ‘God, Country, and Notre Dame’ are in a Celtic font above the name while beneath it, “Notre Dame Class of 2017 Signee” is displayed. A logo similar to that of Upper Deck is in the upper right hand corner with the words Upper Deck replaced by “Irish Elite.”
Some of the players showed them off on Twitter:
— Brock Wright (@brockjwright40) May 10, 2016
As you can imagine, the cards were a big hit with recruits. Via Notre Dame Insider:
Notre Dame commit Josh Lugg, an offensive lineman from Wexford, Pa., knew a special package was headed his way, but the coaching staff kept the contents a secret.
“It’s awesome,” Lugg said. “I’ve never had a trading card of myself. Growing up, I always collected baseball and football cards. To add this to my collection is pretty humbling and pretty neat.”
Linebacker Jacob Phillips was also impressed:
“I feel really honored to receive it,” Phillips said. “Coach (Mike Elston) told me not a lot of recruits received them. It’s only a small handful of the top targets and the commits. I’m very blessed to be in the position that I am in for me to be considered to receive them.”
Lugg went on to say that the recruits are ‘raving’ about them. The cards (at least Lugg’s, which was pictured in that Notre Dame Insider article) are fantasy pieces of sorts, with the backs having made-up bios of players who started 53 games while winning a national championship.
As college coaches strive to outwork each other for recruits, Notre Dame’s approach is the latest effort to stand out. As 247 indicates, this is hardly the first time the Irish have recruited players in unique ways. Last year, the school sent scratch off tickets to prospective recruits, depicting them in a Notre Dame uniform. In 2014, coaches wrote letters to players that had a corner dipped in actual 24 karat gold powder from the Golden Dome.
It’s difficult to imagine that trading cards will be much more than a very small factor in any player’s decision, but in the game of high stakes recruiting, it’s often the little things that count.