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Mike Profeta: High school star proves newspapers wrong

Meghan Martin | Thursday, November 13, 2003

The local papers said he was hanging up his cleats. Four years ago, when he accepted Notre Dame’s offer of admission, it looked like walk-on running back Mike Profeta was doing just that. A stand-out outfielder and running back at Seneca Valley High School, just north of Pittsburgh, Profeta was recruited by a number of Division I college football teams as a high school senior. He had decided to use football to get into colleges, but ultimately decided to follow in his sister Meredith’s footsteps and attend Notre Dame, the only school he had applied to without being recruited. “The newspapers [in Pittsburgh] made a big deal about how I was a pretty good running back in high school, and they were following me throughout where I was deciding to go to school. When I picked Notre Dame, a lot of people were surprised that I was done playing football,” he said. “There was an article talking about how I was basically done, and it was really hard; I didn’t expect to ever play again.”While sports writers at home may have silently lamented the fact that Bud, as he was known back then, would never don another jersey, Profeta’s plans landed him back on the baseball diamond for fall tryouts during his freshman year. He earned a spot in the team’s fall training sessions, but was cut from the team before spring practices began.”When I got cut from the baseball team, I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to try out again next year.’ I’ll have surgery on my elbow, which I’d had problems with in high school, I’ll try out one more year and see what happens,” he said. The day that he was cleared to resume lifting weights after two months of rest, he ran into then-Notre Dame walk-on Tim O’Neill, who suggested he try out for the varsity football team the following day. Profeta’s life at Notre Dame would never be the same again. “I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it,” Profeta said. “So I just decided, what the heck, I may as well give it a shot. So I went over to tryouts, I tried out, and I just happened to get lucky and make the team.”Without training or consultation, Profeta showed up at tryouts the next day. And the rest is history.”When I found out that I made it, I called my dad,” he said. “I said, ‘Well, I tried out for the football team, and I just found out today that I made it.’ He actually dropped the phone. He was really surprised.”Profeta, who has worn the blue and gold since his sophomore year, took to the field against both Stanford and Rutgers during the 2002 season. “For the last two years, I had been staring across the line at gold helmets and white or blue jerseys at practice; that was all I ever did,” he said. “And all of a sudden, I looked across the line to see the white and the red, and it felt totally different for me.” This season, Profeta was given the chance to fulfill another of his goals as a member of the Irish. “The biggest long-term goal I had set for myself was that I wanted to travel to the Pitt game my senior year.” he said. “I was called in to talk to the coaches before the Pitt game, and my running backs coach, coach [Buzz] Preston, said, ‘We think you’ve earned the right to travel back to Pittsburgh for this game.’ So they took me back for the game, and I really appreciated it just to go home. My high school coach was there, and my parents were there. It was a lot of fun.”Although he has met his major goals over the course of his career, Profeta, who plans to move back east for law school after graduation, has not taken his focus off the team. For the rest of the season, he and the rest of the scout team will focus on preparing their teammates for the next three games. “Basically, as a walk-on, you need to take a certain attitude towards everything,” Profeta said. “We’re covered in dirt every day now, because we’re working on cut blocks and things like that – something everyone else doesn’t usually see. It’s good to know you may not be the guy who’s getting the praise on national television, but you have a direct impact on that, and that makes it worth it.”