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Joshua Stull: Dillon player overcomes injury to make team

Allan Joseph | Friday, November 20, 2009

For most who compete at Riehle Field on Sundays representing their hall, the thought of donning a gold-painted helmet, touching the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign and running out of the tunnel to the cheers of more than 80,000 fans on a Saturday afternoon is nothing more than a pipe dream.

For Dillon Hall’s Joshua Stull, however, that dream became a reality.

Stull, a 5-foot-8, 189-pound cornerback from Brownsburg, Ind., wears the number 43 for Coach Weis’ team now, but his path to the home sideline of Notre Dame Stadium was not, by any means, a straight one.

Stull played on the Big Red Interhall team his freshman year at Notre Dame and was poised to do so again during his sophomore year when he broke his leg, ruining any chance of his playing for Dillon Hall that year.

In the spring, however, Stull tried out for the varsity team but failed to make the roster, as he was still not fully recovered from his injury. He doggedly continued to work out in hopes of making the team, waking up at 4:45 a.m. for months to work out despite his injuries.

“I was in Rolfs working out with a broken leg,” he said.

Despite his earlier setbacks, Stull again tried out for the team last spring, making the cut in time to be on the roster for this season, his senior year.

“My favorite memory has to be running out of the tunnel for Nevada,” he said. “It was just an unbelievable experience.”

To Stull, that moment represented the culmination of all of the hard work he had put in over his time at Notre Dame and toward his ultimate goal of putting on the blue and gold on Saturdays. He had fought through injuries and rejection to finally make the team for one year, and entering the Stadium showed him the value of his perseverance and what he was able to achieve.

“Everybody wants to do this,” he said. “To actually be able to do it, that’s a really special thing.”

Though he is small by most football standards, Stull enjoys being a part of the football team.

“Yeah, I’m definitely one of the smallest guys in the locker room,” he said with a laugh. “It’s actually one of the first things my mom noticed about the team.”

He also vividly remembers the opportunities he has had during practice — the first time he heard “Stull, get in there!” during the first week of practice was a “wow” moment, he said.

Stull was appreciative that the coaches made an effort to see what the walk-ons had to offer the team, though they may not be in the same physical category as the four- and five-star recruits.

“It’s a little intimidating being around all these Division I athletes,” he said. “It’s definitely a humbling experience. In high school I was one of the top players on the team, but here, your confidence gets a check and you realize who you are.”

Naturally, Stull’s favorite aspect of the Notre Dame experience is the football games, though of course the academics of the University are important to him as well. He is not just paying lip service to the idea of studying, however — Stull is a double history and theology major. He plans to work at General Mills in Minnesota after graduation.

“My favorite part of being on the football team,” Stull said, “is just being a part of something so special. After two years, I finally got a chance on my last opportunity.”