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Cole Laux: Walk-on fullback has always loved ND

Mike Gilloon | Friday, November 12, 2004

His soft voice contrasting with his muscular physique, Cole Laux slowly described how he would feel strapping on the gold helmet one final time.

“I’ll just take it as it comes, I guess. That’s usually how I do it,” Laux said.

This calm, confident attitude has helped the senior walk-on fullback become a fixture in the scout team backfield and one of the leaders of the entire Notre Dame squad over the past five seasons.

“I always take it as a challenge to myself to try and get better,” he said. “I like to go against [the starting defense] and beat them when I can.”

Born in Texas and raised in Indianapolis, Laux and his family moved to South Bend when Cole was in the eighth grade. He attended Marian High School in Mishawaka and was the starting tailback on a 13-1 team that made it to the state semifinals his senior year. Along with the 13 touchdowns and 938 rushing yards he tallied, Laux was also named to the Academic All-State team. Despite his prep success, Laux did not receive any recruiting interest from then-Irish head coach Bob Davie and did not take the handful of offers from smaller colleges seriously.

“[Playing college football] really wasn’t a priority for me in high school,” Laux said. “Academics was the big thing in my family. So I really didn’t give it much thought until after I was done [with high school].”

Cole’s father Chris graduated from Notre Dame in 1979 so it wasn’t difficult for the second-oldest of the six Laux children to decide where to go to college.

“I was always an Irish fan,” he said. “I decided after my senior year was over that I thought I could probably continue [playing football] if I could get into Notre Dame and try out for the team.”

After receiving his acceptance letter, Laux contacted then-Irish recruiting coordinator Bob Chmiel and sent in some high school game film. The Notre Dame coaching staff liked what it saw and Laux started practice the first day of school.

Though he has mainly played fullback for the scout team, Laux occasionally filled in at running back and tight end to help the first-team defense prepare for Notre Dame’s next opponent. But his versatility is not what Laux is most proud of.

“I’m most proud of my work ethic,” he said. “I think I’ve worked pretty hard and maybe some of that has rubbed off on some of the other guys. Maybe they’ve stepped up their attitudes coming into practice by watching and seeing what I’ve been doing.”

Laux came back to Notre Dame for a fifth year to finish up the requirements for his finance and history double major and to enjoy one last season playing football for the Irish.

“My favorite part of playing has been the camaraderie with the other guys on the team,” he said. “Just building relationships with the guys that you’re always spending time with day in and day out. Getting to know them and working out with them at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings and hanging out with them on a Saturday night. It’s been a lot of fun. There are a lot of good guys on the team.”

Laux’s hard work and tight friendship with his teammates has helped him face the challenge of going to practice every day against players who are often bigger and stronger than him.

“I like to go out there and have fun,” he said. “I have a lot of fun with those guys on defense, joking around about who won the personal battles. I like to say I’ve won a bunch of them and they’d probably say they won a bunch of them. It’s a good time.”

Like every senior, Laux has seen the Irish head coaching job change hands from Bob Davie to Tyrone Willingham and he has many positive words to say about Willingham’s effect on the team.

“Coach Willingham brings a lot of emotion and intensity to the program,” Laux said. “I think he is able to get the most that anyone can out of his players.”

Sidelined recently with a knee injury, Laux hopes to be healed in time for the Irish bowl game. Though he might downplay it, he knows that his last game wearing an Irish uniform will be special.

“I don’t really get a chance to look too far in the future, but it will probably be somewhat emotional,” he said.