College coaches will often ask the top high school coaches in the area if they have any rising prospects. When the Notre Dame coaching staff contacted coach Ivlow at Bolingbrook, Alex McNulty (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) was the first player to come to mind.
"The Notre Dame coaches have just asked me about kids. When coaches ask about who is up and coming, I give them Alex's name," coach Ivlow responded when asked about his contact with the Notre Dame coaches. "I haven't really talked to them about him, the main thing Notre Dame has done with Alex has been to send mail. They haven't been in here asking about specific guys, but I know recruiting season is coming up here and I expect that they'll be back in.
"At this point all the interest is mail. It comes in a bin here and they come in a pick it up. USC has sent him stuff. He's got Georgia Tech and Notre Dame sitting here right now. No one really has varsity tape on him, but they will. He's got plenty of nice tape to look at from this season and we'll get that out shortly. And then everything will pick up when the coaches come back through. People are already talking about him on the internet sites and all, so he's a real nice player.
"He has been over to South Bend, with my defensive tackle Roosevelt Holliday," Ivlow said. "I'm not sure if they have interest in Roosevelt… we'll have to see."
Coach Ivlow has sent a number of players to top programs over the last several years, so he knows a good one when he sees one, and he thinks McNulty is a special kid.
"He's a real nice player, he really is," Ivlow said. "He's a defensive back, strong safety-type, but we've been playing him at outside linebacker. He'll definitely be a strong safety-type in college. He's mean and he has a nose for the ball. He stepped in as a junior at his size and he's able to hit and mix it up with the big boys… and he isn't playing safety, he's playing linebacker, a position he hadn't played until this year. That's what is impressive about him and that started from game one. We played Downers Grove South in our first game and he started making a name for himself right away. He's a tough kid and a sure tackler.
"We brought him up as a sophomore for the play-offs and now as a junior year, playing against top teams, he's all over the place. His sure tackling just stands out, and he's playing linebacker at his size. He's a good tackler. He's a form-tackler and he'll light you up. He isn't an ankle-bitter.
"We haven't had to use him in coverage because he's been at linebacker. We stunt out linebackers a lot, so we lock down man in our secondary. If someone doesn't come his way, he's usually free. That could hurt him when colleges look at him, because he'll be a defensive back in college, but when they see his tackling skills everything will take care of itself. The kid is just a football player and that's what you want to find.
Coach Ivlow has been as impressed with McNulty off the field as he has been with him on the field.
"He's a soft-spoken kid off the field," Ivlow said. "He'll shake your hand and look you in the eye. A lot of these kids now will drift off into space, but he'll look you right in the eye when he talks to you. You won't hear his name in the principal's office or on the police blotter, but you'll hear it over the intercom at one of our games. He's a mild-mannered kid off the field, but when he gets on there, he's as tough as they come. He'll knock you out."