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Steve Paskorz: Torn ACL leaves Paskorz on sideline for senior year

Michael Todisco | Thursday, November 11, 2010

Notre Dame football is defined by tradition — the gleaming golden helmets of the Fighting Irish carry with them decades of pride and success. For senior linebacker Steve Paskorz, this is what lured him to the University.

“The name and tradition that comes along with playing for Notre Dame is outstanding,” Paskorz said.

Paskorz entered Notre Dame as a highly touted prospect, in a group with the likes of Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate, and he said he looks back fondly on the relationships formed with his fellow recruits.

“Not only were those guys leaders on the field but they were great people off the field, and I was real good friends with both of them,” he said. “I enjoyed talking to them when they came through here [during their bye week] for games this year and catching up and having fun with them.”

A highlight of Paskorz’s career came during his sophomore year, in which he established himself as a strong special teams player.

“I would say the defining moment was the Hawaii Bowl,” he said. “We really had fun, plus it was a unique experience to get out there and see Hawaii.”

Paskorz continued playing special teams during his junior season, and seemed prime to take on a bigger role as a senior under the new coaching regime. However, after tearing his ACL, Paskorz has spent his senior season on the sideline, which was aggravating for the Allison Park, Pa. native.

“It’s been really frustrating only being able to watch my senior season,” he said. “Possibly the last time I have the chance to go out on the field might slip away without even having a chance to play; it’s kind of depressing.”

Once he realized that he wouldn’t have an impact on the field for this season, Paskorz said he decided to try to make a positive impact on the team in other ways. Paskorz has tried to take the underclassmen under his wing and share his experiences with them.

“I stay around and talk to the younger guys and try to help them out, and mentor them, with what I know and what I’ve been through,” Paskorz said. “I do what I can off the field to help the guys on the field.”

Paskorz said he has met influential people at Notre Dame who helped shape his football career. While he stressed that he enjoyed learning from the coaching staff, especially strength coach Paul Luongo, Paskorz’s time at Notre Dame afforded him the opportunity to work with a legend: Former Notre Dame standout and a member of the Super Bowl I champion Green Bay Packers team Red Mack has taken an interest in Paskorz.

“Red Mack actually graduated from my high school, and when he comes to a game or attends practices he always gives me advice,” Paskorz said. “He lets me know what I’m doing wrong, but he also just talks to me and tells me his story which is really interesting.”

Paskorz has embraced the coaching change from Charlie Weis to Brian Kelly. He laments his injury that precluded him from fully competing under and learning from the new coach.

“When I was still good I had the opportunity to play but it was just a shame that I got hurt,” Paskorz said. “I really enjoy his coaching style and the type of coach that he is.”

But Paskorz hopes that he may have one more year left under Coach Kelly. Since he did not play in his freshman season and was injured for his senior year, Paskorz still has NCAA eligibility. If things don’t work out playing football though, Paskorz said he may take some time to enjoy his other passion.

“Hopefully I can come back and play for a fifth year,” he said. “If I don’t get a fifth year then take some time off. I’m a big outdoorsman, and I’d love to travel and go hunting and fishing, just relax a bit.”

Whatever the future holds for Paskorz, he will always remember the unique experience of being a Notre Dame football player.

“When people come up and talk to you and ask, ‘You look like you play football player, where do you play?’ Being able to say that I play at the University of Notre Dame is truly special.”