ARLINGTON, Texas — The third-ranked Notre Dame football team completed its first practice at AT&T Stadium as the Irish prep for their College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Notre Dame and No. 2 Clemson will meet at the home of the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, Dec. 29, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Notre Dame players trickled into the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Sunday after spending a few days in their hometowns. The official travel party with coaches and staff arrived via charter flight from South Bend International on Sunday night and settled into the team hotel.
After the first night at the hotel, the Irish awoke Monday morning to begin game week prep with meetings, followed by practice at AT&T Stadium. Both teams held arrival press conferences prior to practices today, with Notre Dame represented by head coach Brian Kelly and graduate captains Drue Tranquill and Sam Mustipher.
Kelly quickly demonstrated how proud he was of the pair of captains when he was asked to introduce them.
“First and foremost, they are two graduates of Notre Dame,” he said. “Both of them have degrees in engineering. Both of them are captains: Drue Tranquill, linebacker; and Sam Mustipher, offensive center. So very proud of both of them as graduates of Notre Dame, in a very challenging academic degree as engineering, and both captains for us. So great football players, but extraordinary individuals.”
Tranquill was asked about his chance to play linebacker in the home of Cowboys linebacker and Irish All-American Jaylon Smith.
“Jaylon is a good friend of mine,” Tranquill said. “We’re both from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I grew up training with him. And so to see him have a big game yesterday was awesome. And just to see him come back from (injury in the Fiesta Bowl to end his college career) — you know, what he did was truly inspiring. And so we’ve got to get out there and run around like he does and make plays all over the field for our team.”
Mustipher took the opportunity to do what offensive linemen do, talk about their teammates.
“We have a standard of Notre Dame offensive line play,” said Mustipher. “It’s been here long before I got here, long before those guys who moved on last year got here. And we take pride in what we do. And we understand guys on Saturdays who’ve played here before are watching us. And we go out there every weekend and give it the best we have.”
The Irish returned to the hotel for afternoon rest, with Monday night’s welcome party hosted by the Cotton Bowl at the Star, the Cowboys’ practice facility, to include both teams. They will then settle into as close to a game-week routine as possible with meetings and practice on the docket for Tuesday.
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