By all accounts, Keaton Komatz did his due diligence before committing to Notre Dame to play lacrosse.
The Heritage sophomore, who started playing the game in third grade, visited at least 12 college campuses this summer, hoping to shape his recruitment and get an idea where he'd like to land. He was traveling, anyway -- Komatz would head East to lacrosse tournaments nearly every week during the summer and into the fall -- so he and his parents used it as an opportunity to visit campuses.
"It was a bunch of lacrosse over the summer and the fall, but, obviously, it all paid off," Komatz said on Friday.
"We saw a lot of colleges," said Komatz's mother, Nancy.
And a lot of colleges saw him. Komatz. an attackman, became a highly sought-after recruit because of his performances at those tournaments while playing for 3d Select, his club team.
"He's kind of the best kid you've never heard of in Colorado," said Jon Cohen, who is about to begin his first season as Heritage's lacrosse coach. "I mean, Georgetown, Maryland, Notre Dame, Harvard, Princeton, Brown all extended offers to him."
The onslaught of attention was "overwhelming at times," Komatz said. Especially because he's only a sophomore.
"I still kind of have that shocked feeling in me that I'm already (planning for college)," Komatz said. "Having that first (recruiting) call with Maryland and Georgetown was the scariest thing of my life."
But all the travel and preparation helped him figure out what he liked in a school. In late November, Komatz visited Notre Dame's campus. He committed the day after he returned.
"All the other schools were kind of all the same to me. They all had the same feel towards their daily living, lacrosse, their academics," Komatz said. "When I went to visit Notre Dame, it felt completely different from all the other schools. It was the same in terms of great academics and lacrosse, but I guess being a good football school and a college down -- South Bend definitely has a good college-town feel -- it has a bunch of spirit."
Komatz will follow former Wheat Ridge standout Nick Ossello with the Fighting Irish. Now a junior at Notre Dame, Ossello was an all-state lacrosse and football player for the Farmers.
Komatz also joins a prestigious list of recent Colorado lacrosse recruits heading to big-time programs, which includes Ossello, Rock Canyon's Wilkins Dismuke (Johns Hopkins), and the recent slew of locals staying home at the University of Denver.
"When I moved out here, there were one or two (big-program) guys. Ossello was kind of one of the first big guys, and then Wilkins," said Cohen, who is also an assistant coach with the MLL's Denver Outlaws. "Now, a Division I recruit is not -- it used to be a huge deal, where everybody kind of talked about it. Now, I think it's more of a credit to the youth coaches and the youth club programs that are giving these guys coaching.
"On any summer day at a tournament here, you'll see 40 college coaches lined up. The rest of the nation is noticing how well Colorado is doing and how well the kids are playing."
Komatz was Heritage's top producer last season, notching 37 points on 24 goals and 13 assists. The Eagles are coming off a 7-8 season, but, Cohen said, having a player of Komatz's talent and stature "bodes well for the program."
"I think more people are starting to notice him and are game-planning for him, so he might get doubled," Cohen said. "One thing about Keaton is he's one of the smartest players I've ever coached, so if he is getting double-teamed, more guys will step up and score points and he'll find a way for the team to win regardless of how many points he scores. To be honest, I don't think he really cares about how many points he scores."
Added Komatz: "I'm really excited for the whole new coaching staff with Jon being there. I'm definitely excited for what he's going to bring to the table; he's really experienced. I feel like we'll step it up from last year. We have, I think, 19 seniors, so that will be strong right there. We're hoping for the best."