Fighting Irish Gridiron Blog

Welcome to the new Fighting Irish Gridiron Blog! Notre Dame fans can get a look inside the world of Fighting Irish athletics from coaches, players and staff. Check back on a regular basis for news and notes about Notre Dame athletics and our various teams, and for even more news on the Fighting Irish, follow us on Twitter ( and Facebook (go to and search for “”). Go Irish!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Today the Notre Dame Football team is traveling to the Big Apple to face Army at Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame and Army have a storied football past and the ND football players are excited to renew this historic rivalry this weekend in the first football game to be played at the new Yankee Stadium. For several Irish players including Senior TE Mike Ragone and Senior WR Duval Kamara, playing in New York City will be somewhat of a homecoming. Ragone hails from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and he is looking forward to Saturday night.

He said, “My family has season tickets at Yankee Stadium. My family is split in half because I’m from New Jersey and I live near Philadelphia. I love the Phillies, but half my family loves the Yankees so we’re just torn. I just love going back east and just feeling like I’m closer to home. All my family is going to come to the game and it’ll be fun.”

Kamara is from Jersey City, New Jersey, and is also eager to be able to play close to home.

“Being back on the east coast is just a different feeling–I love it though. Most of my family will be at the game like they were at Giants Stadium, but probably a few more this time around,” he stated.

There are some Notre Dame players, however, who have never been to the east coast, such as Junior OLB Darius Fleming, so this opportunity is exciting for slightly different reasons.

Fleming shared, “I’ve never been to New York so it’s going to be an experience for me as a football player and as a person. I know there’s a lot of tradition behind the game so I’m looking forward to that and just being a part of it.”

The players are also anticipating a great atmosphere on Saturday night.

Freshman QB Tommy Rees said, “There’s so much tradition between Army and Notre Dame and we’re playing at Yankee Stadium where so many great baseball players have played. It should be pretty electric.”

Ragone echoed Rees’s sentiments, “The atmosphere should be wild. From what I heard we’ll be in the Yankees’ locker room. I’ve never played football at a baseball stadium so it should be interesting.”

The Fighting Irish will also be wearing green uniforms this weekend which adds another historic element to this tradition-filled weekend. While the players are thrilled by the green jerseys, they recognize that wearing them will not help them win.

“I’ve been here for three years and this is my first time wearing these jerseys so it’ll be cool to be able to bust those out, but we just have to stay focused and not let that get into our heads and play the game like we have been doing all year,” Fleming explained.

Notre Dame fans all across the country will be watching eagerly tomorrow night as the Fighting Irish take the field against the Cadets at Yankee Stadium. The Irish Football Team shares this excitement.

Kamara may have captured the anticipation best, “New York, Yankee Stadium, night game -you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Friday, November 19, 2010

Many Irish fans are unaware of the detailed equipment process that goes on behind-the-scenes of Notre Dame Football. The procedure is intensified during the week before an away game.

Head Equipment Manager Ryan Grooms stated, “Our biggest turnaround is going to be following this [Army] game because our truck is leaving on Monday to go to USC. We start with the helmet process on Sunday and normally finish up on Wednesday. The truck left today [for New York] though so we shortened the process: painted Sunday, rebuilt Monday and Tuesday. Adam Myers my assistant and I go through and check everything Sunday morning to Wednesday morning and then put it all in the semi-truck to leave Wednesday afternoon.”

Senior manager Sean Kearns elaborated, “There are something like eighteen trunks so we go through every single one and double-check to make sure that we’ll have everything that we need. Then we go through all the coaches’ clothing to make sure every coach had every possible thing that he could need. Once the helmets get painted I go over and decal them. Then we double-check them all and those are brought over from the stadium. Cleats get pushed over from the stadium once they get cleaned.”

This week the Fighting Irish will be wearing green uniforms so this added a twist to the equipment team’s regular routine. When the new uniforms arrived every player needed to make sure their jersey fit correctly, had the right cut, and was made of the correct material.

“When you deal with new uniforms the biggest thing is making sure the sizes are all right because sometimes coming from the manufacturer they can be off. When we’re reusing jerseys we know the sizes are right we just need to make sure we have the number of jerseys we need,” Kearns said.

Grooms explained that having new uniforms this week was beneficial to his packing process in a way, “The jerseys came in last week. The pants showed up Tuesday so we were biting the bullet a little bit because we did change the game-pant. It only affected things by making sure everything got here. Once everything got here, it was a quick process–do a quick inventory and issue of the pants. So it almost helped us a little bit because if we were wearing our blue jerseys again, they’re still over at the laundry facility getting repaired with the holes from the game from Saturday.”

The equipment managers stayed organized by utilizing numerous checklists. The lists help the managers keep track of all the football equipment and ensure that anything a player or coach might need is with them on the road.

Grooms said, “I have a list I’ve been using for several years now that has everything down from the helmet screws, to the helmets, and jerseys. I’m not going to say it’s impossible to forget something, but if we do it’s our own fault because everything that we could think of is on that list.”

The managers do a great job week after week to make certain that every player and coach is outfitted correctly so that they can focus strictly on football.

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Friday, October 29, 2010

Patrick Coughlin a senior accounting major from Oak Lawn, Illinois, came to Notre Dame in the fall of 2007 as a member of the track team, but during the spring of 2008 (his sophomore year) decided to tryout for the Irish football team.

“I always kind of missed playing football after high school,” Coughlin said. “My brother walked-on the year before me. I started hanging out with a lot of the walk-ons.”

Coughlin traveled to Hawaii in December of 2008 for the Hawaii Bowl with family and this trip further solidified his decision to attempt to walk-on to the football team. He spent a lot of time with his brother and other walk-on players and became really close with them.

“I realized I was playing the wrong sport and when I got back I made the decision that I needed to play football,” Coughlin said.

Coughlin tried out for the football team when he returned to school in the spring. He was able to turn to his older brother for advice and reassurance.

“My brother definitely gave me advice,” Coughlin said. “He ran through with me what we were going to do with the actual tryouts. He was able to help me a lot especially with the stress of going through it and knowing that you could be cut any day. He had gone through it already so he would settle me down by saying, `The coaches aren’t going to cut you now; they already made their final cuts. You just have to keep going and working hard.’ That really helped me.”

Being a walk-on player can be difficult and frustrating at times, but Coughlin finds motivation within the community of walk-on players who call themselves the Walk-on Players’ Union or more affectionately WOPU Nation.

“There’s a close group of walk-ons; everyone calls it WOPU Nation,” Coughlin said. “We take a lot of pride in it. We’re all going through the same thing so it makes us pretty much a tight-knit family.

What keeps me motivated are all the other walk-ons and all of us going through it together. Sometimes a guy might be down because he really thinks he’s playing well, but no coach noticed him. We’ll all talk about it and keep him up. Basically we all keep each other going and that’s the big thing that keeps me going definitely.”

Through his hard work and dedication, Coughlin has become a contributing member of special teams on the field in 2010. He will never forget the moment he found out he was going into the actual game, which came during the season-opening victory over Purdue. Coughlin was a backup on kickoff return and freshman Prince Shembo was cramping up.

“The special teams coach (Mike Elston) came up to me and was just like, `Coughlin you ready to go? Have you been watching him?’ I was just kind of stunned like `Are you serious? Yeah I’ve been watching him. Does that mean I’m going in?’ Running out there I hardly even remember it, but when he told me I was actually going in for the first time that was probably one of the most memorable experiences.”

Being a part of the Notre Dame Football tradition has been a great experience for Coughlin.

“Every walk-on comes on the team and the first year you kind of get acclimated,” he said. “After that you start itching to play and to become an actual contributor to the team. There are at least ten other walk-ons who could play my spot just as well as I can. What it comes down to basically is just getting put in the right spot at the right time and you definitely just have to catch a few breaks. I got the chance to do it and I couldn’t be happier–it really is a dream come true.”

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Monday, October 25, 2010

Notre Dame Football quarterbacks Brian Castello and Matt Mulvey play integral roles as part of the Irish offense, but many fans may not recognize their names. Brian is a senior Aerospace Engineering major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who walked onto the football team in the spring of his freshman year. Mulvey is a junior Finance major from San Diego, California, and he joined the team in the fall of his freshman year. They each spent the past two football seasons primarily as members of the scout team.

“We do what’s asked of us as walkons as part of WOPU (Walkon Player’s Union) Nation. We fulfill many roles on the team. Whatever they ask us to do, we do it, and we’re happy with doing it. Before this year we did a lot of scout team quarterback stuff, some receiver, and special teams stuff. Mulvey was one of our fiercest kick returners we had on the scout team, and I usually fulfilled the role of fiercest blocker whether it is punt protection or the wedge on kickoff. Anything that was asked of a WOPU Nation member we fulfilled,” Brian explained.

This year, however, Castello and Mulvey have become the primary play signalers for the offense. Coach Brian Kelly’s offense involves signaling the plays from the sideline as opposed to the quarterback reading the plays from an armband, which had been implemented in more recent years.

“This year with Coach Kelly’s offense it involves the aspect of communicating the play from the sideline. He trusts his quarterbacks to handle that so all the quarterbacks are involved in the signaling of the plays from the sidelines,” Brian said.

Every signal represents a different play and Castello and Mulvey must memorize them all.

“It’s really a different language,” Mulvey said. “There are 200 plus signals that get installed every single day and you have to come up with new ones. It’s starting to get tricky coming up with ones that don’t look like something else from 50 yards away because the guys like to complain out there about the signals.”

“(Keeping the signals straight) can be hard just because there are a lot of them, but being that we only have one meaningful purpose to the varsity offense right now–to know our signals–it’s not impossible,” Castello said.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to keep all the signals straight, but that’s why you have a great co-pilot as I like to call him, Brian Castello,” Mulvey said. “It’s tough, but you do so many reps in practice that it just becomes second nature.”

Castello and Mulvey, along with the other quarterbacks who signal plays, wear red hats on the sidelines so the players on the field can easily find them among the blue and gold.

“When Dayne looks over to the sideline we’re all wearing blue and gold and our red hats stick out,” Mulvey said.

The color red also holds a much deeper meaning for the signalers. The quarterbacks on the Irish football team refer to themselves as `The Red Army.’

“The Red Army is going into its third year,” Castello said. “It stemmed from us all wearing red jerseys, and Evan Sharpley was the leader of the Red Army when he was here. It is a brotherhood–one of the most feared groups on the team.”

Castello and Mulvey are proud members of the WOPU Nation and The Red Army, and are pivotal parts of the Irish offense through their precise signal calling.

“(Signaling) is fun; it’s nice to be in all the huddles and in the game right there with Coach Kelly”, Mulvey said.

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The University Notre Dame is a place that parents, especially alumni of the University, love to share with their children whether it’s by gathering around the television to watch the Fighting Irish take the field or by taking a picture in front of “Touchdown Jesus” and praying at the Grotto. A few members of the Notre Dame football team were well aware of the magic this place holds as they were growing up because their fathers suited up for the Irish well before they did.

Senior TE Bobby Burger, whose father Bob played from 1978-80, recalls Notre Dame being a big part of his childhood.

“I was set down at the kitchen table had the Notre Dame bib, those Notre Dame little forks, little knives, and had a `Play Like A Champion’ sign coming down my stairs. It was in my baby bottle. Every Saturday we knew 3:30 was the time–sit around the family room TV and watch the Irish. I always thought it’d be special if I could one day wear the gold helmet and suit up for the Irish,” he said.

Junior OL Mike Golic Jr. and his brother sophomore TE Jake Golic also grew up in a Notre Dame family. Their father Mike Sr. earned four monograms from 1981-84 and their uncles Bob, who played from 1975-78, and Greg, who earned a pair of monograms in 1981 and 1983, also played football at Notre Dame.

“I basically came out of the womb bleeding blue and gold. You can go back to my house; it’s borderline embarrassing. There are Notre Dame rugs everywhere, posters hung up on the wall, I’ve got gold helmets all over my room,” Mike Jr. shared.

The fathers of these players also had a role in the college decision process whether they knew it or not.

Senior LB Brian Smith whose father Chris played from 1981-84 said that his father’s attending Notre Dame definitely influenced his choice to come here.

“[The fact that my father played here] influenced me a lot. He was a Notre Dame guy and I wanted to be like my father,” he stated.

Mike Golic Sr. made it clear to his boys that the college they attended was to be their choice, but Notre Dame was always on Mike Jr.’s radar.

“It was a dream of mine to come here and play, to put on that gold helmet, and run out into that stadium. It was Notre Dame or bust.” Jake explained that his older brother Mike Jr. already being at Notre Dame was a greater influence than knowing his father and uncles played here.

Junior QB Nate Montana, son of Joe Montana, did not become very familiar with Notre Dame until his sisters attended the university. Notre Dame itself attracted him to the school more so than his father did.

“The whole atmosphere around game days is something special and something that is not replicated anywhere else and that’s what really brought me into Notre Dame,” Nate stated.

These players have come to understand Notre Dame’s strong ties to tradition and agree that it is a truly special place that they will one day share with their own children.

Mike Golic Jr. expressed, “There really is no feeling like being at Notre Dame and that’s the absolute truth.”

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Senior OT Taylor Dever enters this season ready to compete. He’s also looking to show Irish fans everything he learned by playing behind four-year starting Irish standout Sam Young (’10).

“He was obviously a good player,” Dever says. “He’s in the NFL now doing very well for himself. He was definitely a good player, and I just did what I could everyday to learn from him.”

During his time at Notre Dame, Young set the school record for most career starts at 50 games. He was selected to play for the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round of the NFL draft last spring.

“Learning things from a guy who’s obviously on his way to making it is something that propels me forward,” Dever says. “Just knowing in the back of my head that I have what it takes, and I’m capable is definitely good.”

Over the course of the three years that Dever played behind Young, he says they developed a strong bond. The two make a regular effort to keep this friendship strong.

“We were good friends,” he says. “We hung out a lot. I keep in touch with him–I talk to him a couple of times a week. It’s cool hearing about the things he goes through and how it’s different.”

Dever is trying to approach each game with a clear head, focused and ready to prove his skills.

“When people get asked what their goals for the season are, it tends to be future oriented. I’m just focusing on each game as they come week by week and that’s one of the most important things you can do. I love football and I love the game–I love suiting up on Saturdays to play for Notre Dame.”

— posted by Lauren Chval, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Sunday, October 3, 2010 (Part Two)

Sophomore WR Theo Riddick has a twin sister Thea. As twins often are, the two were very close throughout their childhood and remain so to this day.

Theo shared a story about him and his sister when they were much younger. Thea was stung for the first time by a bumblebee while they were outside, and within an hour Theo had also received his first sting. The “twin things” do not stop with that story though.

“We did everything–played basketball together, just hung out together. Sometimes we even say the same thing at the same time. She’s just my best friend,” he said.

Thea Riddick lives in New Jersey while Theo is nearly 700 miles away here at Notre Dame. Despite such a distance the siblings remain very close. They talk on the phone every two days. Theo will text his sister to give her some notice of his call. On some occasions when they want to speak face-to-face, they use Skype to video chat.

“I can tell her anything. We talk about basically everything. We’re basically the same person. I can just be myself completely,” Theo said about his relationship with his twin sister.

Thea has only been able to come out to Notre Dame to see her brother play in one game, which was last season when the Irish faced USC. Theo is very excited though because Thea will be attending both of the Notre Dame games in the New York area this season–the Navy game at the New Meadowlands and the Army game at Yankee Stadium. He cannot wait to see his sister.

Theo Riddick’s relationship with his twin sister is truly special, and it is evident how much he cares for Thea simply by the way he talks about her.

When asked to describe Thea, he replied, “She’s like a blanket. She’s someone I can always rely on. She’s just amazing in every aspect. She’s like everything I would ever want as a friend and a sister.”

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Sunday, October 3, 2010 (Part One)

World Cup fever swept the globe this summer, and the FIFA fever is still present among some players on the Notre Dame football team. Senior CB Gary Gray, senior LB Brian Smith and freshman RB Cameron Roberson along with others including junior S Jamoris Slaughter, sophomore DT Tyler Stockton and sophomore P Ben Turk can often be found battling each other on the virtual soccer fields of the FIFA video game. The football team has a players’ lounge in the Gug equipped with Play Station 3 game systems so players will often take advantage of their down time and challenge each other to various games.

“We’ve got a bunch of games in there, but probably the only game I play is FIFA,” Gray said.

“We just play all the time, whenever we get a chance,” Smith said.

Gray and Smith, the team’s primary FIFA rivals, explained that the typical format of the games is a best of five series with each individual game lasting twelve minutes. Every day they keep track of how many wins and losses each player has.

Roberson described the atmosphere in the players’ lounge when FIFA is being played, “There’s a lot of trash talking. Pretty much everyone gets into it. Everyone wants to know what’s going on and what the score is.”

FIFA 11 was released on Tuesday, September 28th and Gray and Smith made a special trip after practice to pick up the newest edition of their favorite game. No time was wasted and they immediately tested out the game with a traditional best of five series.

“We just got the new game so we’ll go back to my house or his house and play. Wherever we can find a chance to play, we’ll play the game,” Smith said.

Gray, Smith and Roberson all had varying opinions on the actual game of soccer. Gray became a fan this summer while watching the World Cup. Smith has been a fan for a few years now–he got hooked in 2006 during the previous World Cup. Roberson is not much of a fan of soccer outside of playing the video game. In high school many of his friends played soccer, but he never got into the game.

Despite their differences in opinion on the game of soccer, they all enjoy getting together with their teammates to battle for supremacy on FIFA. They all have a particular team they turn to when everything is on the line. Gray sticks with the Ivory Coast; Smith chooses Uruguay or England; and Roberson always chooses Brazil.

When asked who the most dominant FIFA player on the football team is, Gray, Smith, and Roberson all had the same response, “Me.”

I guess the best way to settle this discord is with another round of FIFA.

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Friday, October 1, 2010

Defensive line coach and special teams coordinator Mike Elston came to the Irish from Cincinnati with head coach Brian Kelly. On the practice field, Elston is aggressive and hands on despite being hospitalized with a viral illness early in the season. Elston’s presence is commanding, but on the field he employs an old technique of coaching to give him extra volume: a megaphone.

“I’m old school,” Elston says. “I want everybody to hear me. And I have a fragile voice–I don’t want to lose my voice.”

Besides being heard, Elston enjoys using his weapon of choice to startle his players.

“I’ve never asked them what they think about it,” he says. “Sometimes I get too close to them with it, and I see them jump. Sometimes Coach Kelly will steal it from me.”

Senior fullback Robert Hughes laughs at Elston’s use of the megaphone.

“A lot of times it seems unnecessary,” Hughes says. “He’ll say something without using it and then he’ll realize he has it and he’ll be like, oh ok and use it. I get a kick out of it.”

Aside from victory on the field, Elston has another hope for this season.

“I used to have a speaker I put on my back with a megaphone like Britney Spears,” Elston says. “It was a lot cooler and a lot easier to carry around. But now I just go with the old school megaphone. Maybe if we can get our kick off return unit playing better, then coach will buy me one.”

— posted by Lauren Chval, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In interviews, when the Notre Dame football players are asked who is the best singer among them, the answer always seems to be Brandon Newman.

The nose guard from Louisville, Ky. stands six feet tall and weighs 300 pounds-not someone you would expect to be known for his voice. The Irish junior modestly claims he is just the player who sings most often.

“I don’t like to brag, but I am a showman,” Newman says. “Pretty much wherever we are as a team and if music is on I am singing the words to whatever song is playing-in the locker room, training table, and of course our alma mater at the end of every game.”

Music has always been a part of Newman’s life. He has been in his church choir since childhood and says he has taken voice lessons here at Notre Dame.

“I always sang and dance as a child at family reunions and I have sang in every talent show in school for as long as I can remember,” he says.

As Newman enters the season ready to compete for time in Brian Kelly’s new defense, he always has a song going in his head.

“I literally listen to all kinds of music: from Disney to rap, from boy bands to R&B, from country to rock,” Newman says. “As long as the song tells a story I am a fan of the music.”

— posted by Lauren Chval, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Barry Gallup Jr. grew up in a household loyal to Boston College. His father Barry Gallup Sr. played football at BC and is currently their director of football operations, and his older sister also attended the college. Despite this strong BC allegiance throughout his upbringing, Gallup Jr. decided to attend and play football for Notre Dame; he fell in love with the university when he visited.

Gallup Jr. shared, “When I was looking at different schools, the two things that were most important to me were academics and athletics. When I came here I just felt comfortable and I thought it was the best combination of those two.”

Gallup Jr. has certainly taken full advantage of both the academic and athletic offerings of Notre Dame. He graduated in three years with a degree in finance and was accepted into Notre Dame’s MBA program, but decided to forgo the opportunity. Instead he has been taking a variety of graduate courses in subject areas that he was unable to explore while focusing on finance in his undergraduate studies. He plans to have a career in business and hopes to attend a top MBA school in the future.

Barry Gallup Jr. is also in his fifth season as a member of the Notre Dame Football team. In these five seasons he has rotated through a number of positions including receiver, running back, cornerback, kick returner, and punt returner.

“One of my biggest strengths is that I’m versatile; I can play a lot of positions. I think that has been advantageous for me,” he stated.

Last season Gallup Jr. started eleven games at kick returner. After suffering an injury his junior year, being able to come back and contribute to the team in such a way was very meaningful. His performance in the game against Michigan especially stands out in his memory.

“I had a return for fifty-something yards in a crucial time in the game. It was just really exciting. I think guys were happy for me because they knew I battled back. My mom was up there somewhere in one of the tops rows so that was a special moment for me,” he recalled.

This season Barry Gallup Jr. has primarily served as part of the secondary and even played quarterback a couple weeks ago. He views this role as an opportunity to get on the field and to contribute to the training of his teammates. Gallup Jr. remains dedicated and continues to work hard.

He said, “It’s the beginning of the season. I’m very optimistic about my situation. I just go out to practice hard every day and compete-whatever the coaches want me to do.”

Barry Gallup Jr.’s performances both in the classroom and on the field demonstrate a true Fighting Irish spirit. He is truly thankful to be here at the University of Notre Dame as a student and an athlete.

“Just to be on the team and represent such a great university has been a wonderful opportunity and experience for me.”

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Monday, September 13, 2010 (Part Two)

During the first two football games of the season, Notre Dame students have experienced the beginnings of a new tradition. Irish football coach Brian Kelly decided to have the team enter the field through the student section for pre-game warm-ups instead of the usual route through the tunnel.

Kelly says he started this new ritual to both pay thanks to the students that are very much a part of the program and give the team momentum as they take the field.

“I just always felt that that’s a great way of coming out into the stadium,” said Kelly. “We needed to come up with a way for us to thank our fans and thank our students. And our team coming through the student section, we thought, was a nice touch of letting them know that we’re going through this area and we recognize your importance to this program.”

The players recognize the importance of the mindset Kelly is trying to promote. Senior outside linebacker Kerry Neal agrees that by coming through the students, the team is more connected to their school.

“It really gets the students involved,” Neal says. “We’re all in class together, we are one, and so it’s us representing them. They get to feel how we come from them. And for us, there’s nothing better than feeling the support of the crowd and your school behind you.”

Changing the way they start the game is making its mark on the program, says senior safety Harrison Smith. It is something that will propel them forward into this new era.

“I think it brings the team together and unites us with the students more,” said Smith. “Instead of fans and the football team, you have one Notre Dame nation. I’ve talked to my friends, and they all think it’s pretty cool, although they kind of wish we did it right before the game. It’s exciting because it’s something the team hasn’t done before ever, so it’s a start for us.”

— posted by Lauren Chval, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

Monday, September 13, 2010 (Part One)

Notre Dame head Coach Brian Kelly, and his coaching staff, continue to shape the Irish football program in new ways. The team has added another exercise to their strength and conditioning regiment — hill sprints. A hill behind Loftus Sports Center was cleared and mulched for the players to use in their training.

Director of Football Strength and Conditioning, Paul Longo, was a primary advocate of this addition.

“I’ve used hill sprints over the course of my career as one of the modalities for training sprints because it’s a lot less stress on the hamstrings and it’s competitive,” Longo said.

Running sprints up a hill decreases the risk of injury because impact is reduced, but at the same time provides a tough, aggressive work-out for the players. Every player, despite position, has been using the hill to train. The sprints have been incorporated into the football strength and conditioning program to increase the speed and agility of players.

Senior cornerback Darrin Walls shared his initial reaction to running the hill, “I wasn’t too sure about it until I did a couple. It’s kind of tough. But after going through it a couple of times you kind of get used to it. But it helps us a lot with speed and endurance, so it was good.”

Although the hill sprints can be a difficult component of the players’ training, Longo noted, “The players love it because you can be competitive on it. You race up the hill.”

Junior quarterback Dayne Crist echoed his coach’s comments, “[Running sprints up the hill] helps break any sort of monotony that was there.” He added, “[It] helps build camaraderie and team chemistry when you’re competing and sweating with your teammates.”

Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph elaborated, “It more turns into a competition than conditioning. It’s a three, four guy race to the top of the hill. Next thing you know you finish with ten of your hills and you weren’t even focused on that– you were focused on winning every rep and beating the guy next to you.”

The players can feel the physical results from using the hill sprints as a conditioning exercise as well.

Sophomore safety Zeke Motta said, “It’s definitely improved our speed. You train on an incline so when you come out on the field, the flat ground, you feel faster.”

The construction of the hill and its incorporation into the football team’s strength and conditioning program has proven beneficial thus far. Hill sprints reduce the likelihood of injuries, create healthy competition among teammates, and allow the players to become faster and stronger.

— posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant