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irish insider

Montgomery VanGorder contributes to Irish success both on and off the field

| Friday, November 17, 2017

Although he hasn’t been on the field for many offensive plays during his career, senior quarterback Montgomery VanGorder still plays an important role for Notre Dame. As the main signaler for the offense, VanGorder has been relaying plays in his red visor to the Irish over the past four years.

When VanGorder first entered Notre Dame in 2014, he was a walk-on quarterback with aspirations of seeing the field in any capacity that he could. Aside from being a signal caller on the sideline, Van Gorder has earned his way onto the field as a holder for the Irish. Although it’s been in a smaller role compared to his initial dream of being a starting quarterback for the Irish, VanGorder’s team-first mindset is the reason Brian Kelly has entrusted him with the responsibility of being the team signaler.

Chris Collins | The Observer

Irish senior quarterback Montgomery VanGorder holds for junior kicker Justin Yoon during Notre Dame’s 48-37 win over Wake Forest on Nov. 4.

“… [I wanted to] help the football team any way I could as a scout team quarterback, and I worked my way up to be a holder,“ the senior said. ”Obviously, you want to be a starting quarterback, but I mean I came in as a walk-on originally. I always work as hard as I can to get as high on the depth chart as I can. At the same time, I just what to do whatever I can to help us win.

“[Holding] is something I had set my sights on when I first got here, and getting to do it just gives me another job, and it helps me have a bigger role in victories. I know it gets overlooked every now and then, but every time I get on the field we have the opportunity to put points on the board.”

VanGorder’s current role as a holder for the Irish is a transition from his freshman year as a scout team quarterback for the Irish. His promotion for the Irish comes with newfound privileges that VanGorder believes has further expanded his mentality of always helping the team.

“My freshman year when I was on the scout team I didn’t really get to sit in on the meetings like with the game plan … that was something I missed out on,“ VanGorder said. ”As a signaler, you have to be in there because you have to know everyone’s job. You have to know if that’s a motion on this play or if the quarterback needs to be under center or in the shotgun for one play … or just another set of eyes for Brandon [Wimbush], or whoever might be in, to see what the coverage is, things like that. So I get to sit in on the meetings now and see the game plan and sometimes I give input and help the guys when they get on the field.”

While reflecting on his career at Notre Dame, VanGorder believes that the best part of being a part of the Irish football team is the tradition and legacy that comes with putting on the jersey, in addition to the camaraderie with his teammates.

“The most important thing to me is my teammates,“ VanGorder said. ”I’ve created a lot of good relationships with those guys in the locker room, and those are some relationships I will carry out in my entire life — just the guys the culture and the atmosphere that we’ve created here its second to none.”

As a senior signal caller for the Irish, VanGorder has used the lessons he’s learned from previous Notre Dame quarterbacks to take underclassmen under his wing, especially sophomore Ian Book and freshman Avery Davis.

“When I first got here I was with Everett Golson, and I got to see a lot of quarterbacks come through in my time — him, Malik [Zaire], then DeShone [Kizer]. So I got to pick up on their tendencies, good and bad,“ he said. ”So when you have a guy like Ian come in and a guy like Avery come in, you try to take them under your wing and teach them as much as you know and as much as you can. And you get to see those guys come a long way. Both Ian and Avery have come a long way since they’ve come on campus, and I’m excited to see what they do once I’m gone.“

Aside from his father Brian’s tenure at Notre Dame, VanGorder has forged his own path at Notre Dame, and wants to be known primarily for that, not his father’s stint as an Irish defensive coordinator.

“Obviously when I first got here my dad was the defensive coordinator, but I think I was able to build my own path and friendships and being involved things around campus just trying to create a work ethic with the team,” he said.

The next path for VanGorder isn’t clear yet, but he is determined to continue to make a name for himself. VanGorder will graduate in the spring with a degree in management consulting, but doesn’t envision his future working for a management consulting firm or primarily using his degree for that matter.

“I wanted to have my major as a fallback plan because it teaches you good leadership skills,” he said. “But I [have] always wanted to be a coach.”

Whether his first coaching job is a graduate assistant coaching job at Notre Dame or a coaching job in his native state of Georgia, VanGorder will be happy for the opportunity.

As his final season for the Irish comes to a close, VanGorder is simply grateful for all of his opportunities

“I just want to say thank you to my teammates, my family, my friends — everyone who’s helped me be successful here and get to where I am today,” VanGorder said.

“To the freshman coming in and to the freshman now, I just want to say cherish it and embrace it,” he added. “Always work hard and don’t leave anything out there or have any regrets. You never want to look back and think, ‘I could’ve done this or that.’ Just want to give it all you got, and everything will work out for you.”

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