Tyler Plantz lives out dream, earns scholarship
Daniel O'Boyle | Thursday, November 20, 2014
From the very start, Tyler Plantz’s dream was playing for Notre Dame.
As the son of former Irish offensive lineman Ron Plantz, the graduate student running back said his father made sure that he would grow up supporting the Irish.
“We started coming to games at a young age, and from there, we were wearing the jerseys, and we’d watch the game every Saturday,” Plantz said. “We always just kind of grew up a Notre Dame family, and I always had the goal of going to Notre Dame”
Plantz received offers from multiple Ivy League schools and one school in the Mid-American Conference, but he said he always knew that he’d rather fulfill his ultimate goal by walking on at Notre Dame.
“The one thing in the back of my mind for everything I did was trying to get to Notre Dame,” he said.And when the time came for him to make his first appearance for the Irish, Plantz said the experience was something he couldn’t believe.
“It was pretty surreal,” he said. “Actually, the first play I don’t remember — I was so excited and the adrenaline was pumping so fast, but really it was the pinnacle of a dream come true. Finally getting on the field was one of the coolest, if not the coolest, experience of my life.”
Plantz’s commitment to Notre Dame goes far beyond his appearances on the football field, having made appearances for the Irish club rugby team and in interhall football as well as reaching the quarterfinals of Bengal Bouts in 2013.
“I’ve always had the mentality my whole life, of not just playing Notre Dame football, but an overall love of Notre Dame,” he said. “Just my whole life, I’ve had this undying love for the University, so being involved in things outside of football has opened up my experience here, and I’ve been able to meet some amazing people.”
Having spent most of his high school career playing linebacker, a position in which he registered 287 tackles in his final two years at Providence Catholic High School in Illinois, Plantz needed some time to adjust to playing running back. However, he said it has made him a better player in the long term.
“It was a lot tougher at first, being on the opposite side of the ball,” he said. “I always loved playing linebacker, trying to make tackles, but it’s actually pretty exciting getting to run with the ball in your hand and play on the opposite side, scoring touchdowns.
“There’s definitely a different feel for the game, but it really helped me to understand both sides of the ball, and it could become the next step, where if I want to become a coach, I have a feel for how to play defense, how to play offense and how to bring those skills together.”
After three years as a walk-on, Plantz was awarded a scholarship for this season in August, as part of the last announcement of scholarship players, and he said this experience was another of his highlights at Notre Dame.
“When the coach got up and announced my name for a scholarship, it was one of the coolest things in the whole world,” he said. “Not only that the coaches were excited and that they recognized me, but most importantly, my teammates did. I got a huge roar from the guys. They were all giving me hugs and high-fives.”
Plantz said his time as a walk-on had allowed him to understand the experience of some of the younger walk-on players and that he hoped he could act as a leader to them.
“These guys definitely don’t get the recognition of a lot of people — a lot of them aren’t traveling to the games on Saturday, but they have that mentality every day that they’re going to work hard every single day, and seeing these guys progress, not only in football, but in what they do after football, is one of the coolest things about being here,” Plantz said.
Plantz said his future remains open, and although he is studying finance, he still hopes that he might be able to find a career related to football.
“Honestly, I love playing football, and I love being around football, so I can definitely see myself taking the coaching route,” Plantz said. “But also, as a finance major, I can see myself also taking financial consulting or something in that direction. Honestly, the doors are still open.”