As a youngster, Steven Filer wasn't as in to sports as he was in to school.
His parents use the same word to physically describe Filer as a kid, "goofy."
"He was a big, goofy kid," Filer's father also named Steven says.
His mother Debria says, "He was always big for his age and he was really kind of goofy."
Even Filer himself agrees.
"I didn't get too in to sports until the seventh grade, after my awkward stages," he says. "I was really in to school and had a 4.0 grade-point average."
Steven played sports as a kid; he just didn't have as much early success as he would later.
"I played baseball, but I didn't really start to hit the ball until I began wearing glasses in sixth or seventh grade," he says.
Mr. Filer coached Steve in football, basketball and baseball.
"We didn't know that he needed glasses. He just kept swinging and missing the ball," Mr. Filer says. "My wife took him to get glasses and he started connecting. We put him at first base and he was like Frank Thomas."
Mr. Filer has always encouraged his son to play hoops to help him with his athletic ability.
"I wanted him to play basketball to get his agility right," he says. "I told him that whatever he did, not to stop playing basketball because it would help him on the field."
Mr. Filer knew all along – even during those "goofy" stages -– that his son belonged on the football field.
"I always knew that football was going to be his major sport," Mr. Filer says. "He was always aggressive and even though he had to play with kids three years older than him because of his size, he would hurt the older kids."
Everything started to click for Steven shortly before high school.
"He had a monster seventh grade," Mr. Filer recalls. "I knew he would put it together one day, I just didn't know when. In eighth grade, he was dominating. He was a beast."
Unbeknownst to him, the coaches at Chicago's Mount Carmel High School knew that Steven was special as soon as he walked through the doors as a freshman.
"I didn't know what to expect when I got to high school," Steven says. "I thought that everyone was going to be better than me, but when I got pulled up to varsity at the end of my freshman year, I started setting higher goals."
Still, Steven didn't seriously start thinking about college football until the first game of his sophomore season.
"We played against Morgan Park and Demetrius Jones," Steven remembers. "He was one of the premier players in Chicago and I had 10 tackles and two sacks. I thought that if I could play against him, I could play against anyone in the state."
Steven again reset his goals and his work ethic.
"I didn't get nonchalant after that, it made me work harder," he says. "I was wondering what I could do if I worked really hard."
So he did. Even with Filer concentrating on football and basketball, those education habits that he formed as a child helped him and allowed him to have a wider selection of schools.
By the end of his sophomore season, he had three verbal offers from Division I programs. On Sept. 1 of his junior year, the fax machine at Mt. Carmel was busy with seven official scholarship offers coming through, including one from Notre Dame.
"It made me feel real good because I knew that I wouldn't be able to go to college without a scholarship," he says.
Steven's father helped make sure that the process would not interfere with what he had to do on and off the field.
"There wasn't really any pressure on him in the beginning because I was the one taking all of the phone calls," Mr. Filer says. "I started letting him talk to the coaches to start narrowing it down, because we didn't want to have too much control."
Mr. and Mrs. Filer did not want to select the school for their son, but they definitely had a preference.
"We talked about it and we knew what the best school for him was, but we wanted him to have a part in it, so we stepped back and let him decide," Debria says. "It wasn't that difficult, because we know what kind of kid he is and he makes pretty good decisions."
Steven eventually trimmed his list to two schools.
"Ohio State was in the picture and I thought there was a chance that he'd go that route," Mr. Filer remembers.
Steven admits that he almost committed to the Buckeyes during the summer before deciding on the Irish.
"At Ohio State, I liked the family atmosphere, the facilities, the coaches and the players. It was the same with Notre Dame," he says. "It was a hard decision, but in the end it came down to which degree would hold more weight."
His parents were proud that Steven came to the same conclusion that they did.
"If he would have picked Ohio State, we would have told him what we felt, but we still would have let him decide," says his mother. "Sometimes when a kid goes to a school that their parents pick, they don't do well."
His father felt that Notre Dame offered too many opportunities to turn down.
"When you go to Notre Dame, you're always Irish. That Notre Dame degree goes far in life," Mr. Filer says. "Not only that, it's the biggest stage you can play on for football. But the number one thing for me is that piece of paper."
Mr. Filer was confident that Steven would make the right decision, but has been impressed with everything his son has done.
"I'm so proud of him it's hard to describe," Mr. Filer says. "He amazes me sometimes. He's a special kid."