Sept. 3, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Going into Saturday’s game, the Irish still had a lot of question marks surrounding them.

The defense left a lot of Notre Dame fans feeling weary. With a September schedule unlike any other teams, Bob Davie’s squad needed to get out of the gates fast and furiously. Many felt that the defense would hold a key role in seeing that goal accomplished.

Saturday they did just that with a solid win over the Aggies of A&M. This week’s Unsung Hero honor goes to junior Shane Walton. Walton earned the starting cornerback position in just his second season of football with the Irish.

In his first start for the football team, Walton registered five tackles on Saturday, including one solid hit for a seven-yard loss.

The remarkable part of Walton’s story is what he gave up in order to pursue his goal of playing football for the Irish. Coming out of high school, Walton knew he would be playing for the Irish, just not the football team. Walton would play soccer for Notre Dame.

He never tried to hide the fact that he would rather play football for Notre Dame so he worked out an agreement with then-head soccer coach Mike Berticelli. Berticelli said that if Walton could commit to one season of soccer for him that he would see if he could get him a tryout for the football team.

Walton spent his freshman year dominating the soccer fields. He led the Irish in goal scoring in his freshman season with ten goals. The Big East named him to the all-rookie team in 1998.

Berticelli made good on his promise and got Walton some time with the team. Ever since that day, Walton has never looked back just focused on the task at hand, football. As a sophomore, he played in nine games for a total of just over four minutes of game time.

“I have come a long way from the spring to the fall but there is still a lot of stuff that I can still improve on,” Walton said.

Saturday showed how far the former soccer standout has come from dominating the soccer field to dominating the defensive backfield, which is why he is this week’s Unsung Hero.