Jeff Samardzija grew up as a Notre Dame fan, making it an easy decision when offered a football scholarship after his prep career.

Getting To Know... Jeff Samardzija

Oct. 20, 2005

#83 Jeff Samardzija
Junior, 6-5, 230
Wide Receiver
Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso

Junior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija has had a break out season at wide receiver for the Irish in 2005. Coming into the 2005 campaign, the Irish two-sport star had 24 receptions for 327 yards in the first two years of his career. Through the first five games of this season, he already has 28 grabs for 499 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the Notre Dame receiving corps. A marketing major, Samardzija also doubles as a starting pitcher on the baseball team and owns a 13-4 record and a 3.45 ERA over two seasons. The Valparaiso, Ind., native was an all-state selection in both football and baseball while at Valpariaso High School. GameDay Magazine’s Michael Scholl gives Irish fans a chance to get to know Jeff Samardzija.

Scholl: What is your major and how did you get interested in that area of study?

Samardzija: I’m a business major. It’s sort of just what came out. Those were the classes I’m good in. They put me through the wringer sophomore year with business classes. It’s kind of just what fell in place for me.

Scholl: What is your favorite class and why?

Samardzija: I’m not really sure what my favorite class is. It varies from semester to semester. I like any class that can go often the beaten path and makes you think a little bit. I don’t really enjoy the math classes, so philosophy and classes like that are the ones that I’ve enjoyed.

Scholl: What made you pick Notre Dame over the other schools you were interested in? What were the other schools?

Samardzija: I’m kind of a local guy from Valparaiso, Ind. I grew up around Notre Dame. I’ve heard about it for as long as I can remember, either watching on TV or going to a few games growing up. It was an easy decision once they offered me a scholarship.

Scholl: To date, what has been the highlight of your Notre Dame career?

Samardzija: I like to look at things a little differently. I’d probably have to say the guys I meet everyday. They’re great people and people I’ll know the rest of my life.

Scholl: Who were your sports idols as a kid and why?

Samardzija: My heroes changed a lot over the years. I have an older brother, so I always looked up to him. I pretty much copied what he had to say, so he would probably be my idol.

Scholl: Who has been your biggest non-sports role model and why?

Samardzija: I’m a big fisherman, so all the pro fisherman out there. I love all of them and watch them all the time. I have a lot of respect for those guys because that’s probably the best job a person could ever have.

Scholl: What is one thing in your life that you cannot live without?

Samardzija: I couldn’t live without the people close to me. I would probably go insane if I didn’t have those people to talk to everyday, mess around with and have some fun.

Scholl: What is the best advice that you have ever been given and who gave it to you?

Samardzija: It’s not so much one that I got from any one person, its just the saying, “Live everyday like it’s your last day.” You never know when that time may come.

Scholl: How do you think you’ve grown as a person since coming to Notre Dame?

Samardzija: I don’t think you realize it as a person until you come to Notre Dame. But, as a person I think you grow up faster, you’re more mature and it happens in such a quick amount of time because of the people around you. There are great expectations put on you here, so you have to grow up fast and take the positives with the negatives.

Scholl: What is one thing about you that might surprise people?

Samardzija: I think it might surprise people how laid back that I am. Football is a head-knocking sport. But, I’m a laid back guy who just likes to mess around and not be crazy all the time.

Scholl: If you were stranded on an island and could only eat one meal, only listen to one song, and spend your time with only one person; what would you eat, what would you listen to and who would you pick?

Samardzija: If I could only eat one meal, it would definitely be Papa John’s thin-crust, cheese pizza. The one song I would want would be Modest Mouse Ocean Breeze Salty and the one person would have to be my brother.

Scholl: Where is the toughest place that you’ve played as a college football player?

Samardzija: The toughest place to play would be Michigan. My freshman year we didn’t have the outcome we wanted there, but we turned it around this season. Tennessee was a tough place, but we won there so I guess I can’t say it was too hard.

Scholl: What would a movie about your life be titled and who would star as you?

Samardzija: The title would be A Day In the Life because I think it would be good for people to see what I do in a normal day. The person who would play me would probably be Johnny Depp.

Scholl: If you had the chance to play golf with anyone in history, besides you, who else would be in your foursome and why would you pick those three people?

Samardzija: I would probably want to play with my grandparents on both sides of the family. I’d just like to what they went through and see where I come from. I think that would be interesting.

Scholl: Describe what it feels like on game day and playing at Notre Dame Stadium.

Samardzija: I don’t know if it’s possible to describe that. It’s really amazing. It’s something that you wish everyone could feel. When you have 80,000 people, plus all those watching on TV, the feeling is second to none. The older you get, the more you realize that and as a junior I just want to take advantage of it and cherish every moment. It’s the biggest rush you could ever feel. I’ve been skydiving and bungee-jumping, and it’s completely different and better. It’s something you can get addicted to. .

Scholl: Where did you get your nickname – Shark?

Samardzija: It all started my freshman year. I was new on the baseball team. I showed up, didn’t know anyone. I was a talking to (former Irish pitcher Chris) Niesel, and out of nowhere they called me `Shark’ because they said I looked like the shark on Finding Nemo. It started during a game while I was pitching and they yelled at me from the dugout. Then Coach (Paul) Mainieri picked it up and it just snowballed from there. I guess I look like a shark.