Will Yeatman (6-6, 255-pounds) was ready to proceed as planned; he would primarily be a lacrosse player his freshman year. He would be able to practice with the football team, but he wouldn't be eligible to participate in games. Those plans changed as Yeatman received a call from Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis.
"It's pretty nice. It's pretty awesome that coach Weis gave me the opportunity to be on a football scholarship this season," Yeatman said of his recent football scholarship. "I know one of the tight ends quit and that's why he did it, but I'm pretty excited about the way it's worked out. I can still play lacrosse. I really couldn't be happier.
"[I found out] pretty recently, shortly after Joey Hiben quit. Coach Weis said he wanted to have another tight end on scholarship that could contribute in games or maybe special teams this year. I said ‘Of course. If you think that's the best for the program, then I'm all for it. I'm looking forward to being part of the program sooner.' That was pretty cool."
Although it would appear to be a major shift for a student-athlete, Yeatman doesn't expect much of a shake-up.
"It really isn't too much different," Yeatman explained. "I'm still going to practice with the football program next year. The only difference is that next year will be more football oriented instead of lacrosse. It was going to be where I was doing more things with the lacrosse program. I'll still play lacrosse in the spring, but that's how I'll approach it. The fact that I'll be traveling with the team and suiting up for all the games, that will be pretty cool."
The biggest change for Yeatman will likely have a positive effect on his adjustment to life at Notre Dame. Instead of being ‘the lacrosse guy' playing football, he'll be an official member of the team from day one.
"That was the feeling I got when he [Weis] mentioned that," Yeatman said of the benefit of being on the football scholarship. "I do feel more a part of the team now. Not that I wasn't going to be, but I was still going to be on a lacrosse scholarship. I felt more a part of lacrosse before, but now I feel a part of both programs. When I went on my official visit and it was a lacrosse visit, so I spent a ton of time with the lacrosse guys, so I now know all of them really well.
"Looking back at the recruiting process knowing that Jeff Samardzija and a couple other guys have done it [played two sports] at Notre Dame that made it easier for me," Yeatman said of his decision to come to Notre Dame. "Other schools early on said ‘Of course you can play lacrosse and football', but when it got down to crunch time schools most schools pulled back and said ‘We want you to play football and not lacrosse.' Coach Weis has been honest about it through the whole process. He said if you contribute to the lacrosse program, and I think I do have a good opportunity to contribute early in my career, he said if I contribute early then we're not going to hold you back from playing that sport. I'm excited about that.
"I had a lot of [football] programs that recruited me and said we really, really think you can come in and play and even start your first year. If I was choosing the college based on who was ahead of me I think that would be wrong. I chose the college based on the academics, and that's why I chose Notre Dame. They also have a great lacrosse program and obviously a great football program. Hopefully we'll be national championship contenders in football. I'm not saying that that isn't part of the package, but academics is what you go to college for."
Expect Yeatman to get plenty of quality playing time for the Irish lacrosse team. Although Will won't come out and tell you himself, he was widely consider one of the top lacrosse recruits in the country.
"I was recruited very heavily by nine of the top ten schools in the country," Yeatman said after some encouragement. "Johns Hopkins won the national championship this year and they offered me a scholarship. Maryland is the second ranked team in the country, which is why I looked at them so heavily, not as much for their football program, but because they have a tremendous lacrosse program. They recruited me from the get go. North Carolina, Navy, Syracuse...a bunch of programs recruited me.
"I'm considered by others as one of the top lacrosse players in the country. Our teams don't compete as well on the West Coast. Individually I can hang with those [East Coast] guys. I went to a camp with the top 102 players in the country. It was an invite only camp and I did pretty well. That's when Notre Dame started recruiting me.
They're [Notre Dame lacrosse] good, I think they're 10th in the nation. I think in the upcoming years we'll be really good," Yeatman said. "The lacrosse team thinks we had the best recruiting class they've ever had, by far."
Lacrosse starts at the end of January. Games start up at the end of February to early March.