Hard-Nosed Semple Receiving Mail From ND

Joe Semple has torn enough cartilage, and is looking forward to finally playing a healthy football season next fall. One of the top players in Illinois, Semple played through torn cartilage in his shoulder as a sophomore, and a millimeter-sized tear of cartilage in his knee as a junior. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound offensive lineman never missed a play, and both minor injuries are in the past.

In the present, Semple has been text messaging quite frequently with Illinois, Purdue and Colorado. He has been receiving a lot of mail from those schools, as well as Iowa, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. The tough guy from Mundelein Cons High is still waiting on his first scholarship offer.

"He had these kind of problems, and even dislocated a finger, and he hasn't missed a down," Mundelein head coach Dave Whitson said. "When it comes to toughness, Joe is the type of kid you like to coach because he doesn't ever want to come out.

"Joe Semple is a good football player. Joe's been one of the few bright spots at Mundelein. He is simply a hard-nosed tough kid, happy go lucky. Just plays the game because he loves it. He is like a sponge, absorbing as much as he possibly can."

Talk about tough and hard-nosed, Semple said that his shoulder would have a minor dislocation in almost every game his sophomore season, but they would just pop it back in place, and he'd trudge back onto the field. He had surgery after the season, and wasn't cleared to lift weights for 10 months.

This past season, the knee never bothered Semple, and he eventually had it scoped. He now figures the injury bug has bit him enough.

"I'm hoping so," Semple said.

Semple and his 78-inch wing span plays right tackle at Mundelein, but the junior projects as a guard or center on the next level. He has played a little center during his prep career, but thinks he might play it more this coming season.

"It's a lot different playing inside," Semple said. "Everything is in your face now. You have to move quicker and keep your head up more."

Semple, who's father was a center for a season at Elmhurst College, has been on unofficial visits to Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northern Illinois and Iowa. But he says nothing compares to the many experiences he's had in South Bend. For the last three years, Semple and his teammates have come in for Notre Dame's strength and conditioning camp during the summer. He was also in for the Irish-UCLA game last season.

"It was impressive, all their brand new facilities, and their indoor field and their weight room, pretty impressive compared to other schools," Semple said. "Definitely the most impressive college I've been to so far.

"I got a chance to talk with (Irish recruiting coordinator and receivers coach) Rob Ianello, and I talked to the offensive line coach (John Latina) for awhile.

"We just talked about racquet ball and how he has his lineman play racquet ball to get their feet quicker," Semple said. "He said the big guys don't like doing the bike, so they play racquet ball. It's more exciting than running around in a circle all day. I thought it was a good idea. I've never heard of that before."

Semple has also camped at Notre Dame. He's done the same at Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois and Central Michigan. He's not sure where he'll go this summer, but reports a max-bench press of 265 pounds (still bouncing back from the 10 months out of the gym) and a max-squat of 385 pounds. Semple said he runs the 40-yard dash in 5.3 seconds, and has a 2.8 GPA.

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