Two players Konrad Reuland (6-6, 245-pound) knows from the January all-star game, James Aldridge and Chris Stewart, have already enrolled at Notre Dame. Because of their experience they will be able to provide invaluable advice to a friend whose fortunes changed rather quickly.
Both events that altered Reuland's path as he prepared himself for college football involved tight ends on the Irish squad. Anthony Fasano entered the NFL draft and Joey Hiben retired from the football team. With those departures from the Irish depth chart, an incoming freshman expecting to be the fifth option at tight end now enters as the leading candidate for the third tight end spot. Reuland went from luxury to necessity; sideline to spotlight.
"I'm really excited to tell you the truth," said Reuland of his opportunities for early playing time. "With both of those guys not being there, it puts a lot more pressure on me though. I feel a lot more pressure to perform next year.
"In a way I feel good because I know that I'll be out there playing. I'm definitely taking my training very seriously so I can get out there and do some good things. I want to get out there and see how I do. I'm not worried or nervous, it's really more that I'm anxious."
Most people can remember a time where they were challenged by the next stage in life. This is that next phase for Reuland. This is just one more step that Konrad will complete successfully.
"Before my junior season which was my breakout year," recalled Reuland. "I felt really stressed out before the first game, but once I got my first touchdown catch I've kind of built from that point and now I have all the confidence in the world.
"I came away from that All-American game pretty happy with how I played, especially with that gimpy ankle. In practice, I did well in all the one-on-ones and I was making plays. I felt I did really well. I got the starting spot and played pretty well in the game, so I was happy."
Those building blocks and that confidence will be the foundation on which Konrad builds his new opportunities. Only now, he'll being making his mark under the golden dome.
"Once I get out there and make a couple of nice plays I'll know for sure that I can be out there next season," said Reuland confidently. "In the back of my mind, I know I'm going to be out there and I know I'm going to be just fine, but there is always that sense of ‘How tough is this going to be?'
"I have so many expectations for myself and I'm harder on myself than anybody. There are things that I want to do next year that people would never think that I'd want to do or they think are impossible."
One challenge that doesn't concern Reuland are the 110 sprint workouts of coach Mendoza.
"Our high school team used to run 20 110s at a time," explained Reuland. "I always ran with the backs and the receivers. I always wanted to push myself so I always ran with the fastest guys on the team because I want to keep myself in the best condition possible.
"I'm training real hard now doing a lot of explosive movement, quick-twitch stuff and I'm doing a lot of the power-lift stuff, power-cleans, squats and stuff."