Incoming Irish: Sam Mustipher

Irish interior offensive lineman Sam Mustipher realizes he has a unique opportunity.

Not every college player is a prodigy.

Sure, Jadeveon Clowney could decapitate Michigan ball carriers from the moment he took his first step, and Peyton Manning's initial words were a run-check audible, but they're the exceptions -- collegiate football players rarely have such a seamless rise to prominence.

Incoming Irish offensive lineman Sam Mustipher wasn't destined to be a football player. He didn't immediately take the field as a high school freshman and start pancaking defenders. He had to watch from the sidelines and that early apprenticeship is what drove him to eventually warrant an offer from Notre Dame.

"I wasn't picked for our first high school game but I just kept working and working at my game," Mustipher said. "By our fourth or fifth game I was in the line up and after that I thought football might be my thing."

Sam Mustipher has come a long way from not making it into his first high school game. Last year he sat in head coach Brian Kelly's office in Notre Dame and watched his life change before his eyes. He was being offered a scholarship to play for the Irish. In his freshman year in high school he thought football might be his thing. Now he was sure of it.

"Sitting in that office was a surreal moment and it still hasn't sunk in," Mustipher said. ""When Coach Kelly says he has an offer for you that's worth over $60,000 it knocks you off your feet. My Dad was sitting beside me when I got the offer and it was something I will remember forever."

Mustipher has spoken extensively with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and says he hasn't mentioned redshirting yet. The message that the six foot three, 286-pound player from Our Lady Good Counsel High School (Olney, MD) has gotten is that if he performs well in camp, he might see the field. Either way, Mustipher has forged a good relationship with Hiestand and is looking forward to working with him.

"Coach Hiestand has a special air about him," Mustipher said. "He can work with a lot of different players and personalities and I think that is why the Notre Dame offensive line has been so successful."

Mustipher is one of four offensive line recruits for 2014 and he is looking forward to getting to camp and making new friends. And while he wants to get on well with his new teammates off the field, he is looking forward to competing once the whistle blows.

"I am coachable and I can take on feedback be it positive or negative," Mustipher said. "And I am aggressive. I play through the whistle and I like to finish plays."

And looking past training camp, there are a lot of things that Mustipher is looking forward to. He is excited about moving away from home and starting a new chapter in his life. And whether he is redshirting or not, he has circled the Navy game at FedEx Field on his calendar because that will bring an influx of visiting family members. But like so many other players, the moment he is looking forward to the most is hearing the roar of the Irish crowd for the first time.

"Running out at Notre Dame Stadium on game day will be one of the most exciting moments of my life," Mustipher said. "But hopefully I get to experience running out on the field for one or two national championship games too."


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