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Dennis Mahoney faces just another challenge in football

Adriana Pratt | Thursday, November 17, 2011

A history major focused on getting into law school and completing a senior thesis about crusades sounds like a busy student. Add a 40-hour-a-week time commitment to the Notre Dame football team, and you’ll have senior offensive lineman Dennis Mahoney.

“It’s tough. I mean, you have to be able to really manage your time well,” Mahoney said. “But once you get into your routine, I think it’s not too hard to handle.”

The former Dillon Hall resident began playing football in seventh grade. He looked to his older brother Patrick, a 2007 Notre Dame graduate, for the inspiration to play in college.

“He tried [walking on],” Mahoney said. “He tore his Achilles … so that was kind of it. But he always got me into football.”

The Maryland native said his family, and especially Patrick, were ecstatic when they found out Mahoney made the team.

His parents have made the trek from Baltimore to South Bend for most of the Irish home games. Seeing them and other fans line the team’s path to the Stadium on game days is one of his favorite college memories, Mahoney said.

“It’s just a good tradition,” Mahoney said. “There’s a lot of people and fans. My family’s usually there.”

Another highlight of Mahoney’s football career includes his block against Air Force during the Oct. 8 Irish victory at home. The game was Mahoney’s first chance to see time on the field since he joined the team.

“The first time I got in, [sophomore quarterback Andrew] Hendrix was in and he had a long run,” Mahoney said. “I made a block and I got up and looked and he was running downfield and it was pretty, pretty exciting.”

Mahoney joined the Irish after completing the team’s August 2008 training camp before his freshman year. After he found out he was admitted early to Notre Dame, his high school coach helped him compile a highlight film to send the Irish coaches, who then invited him to train with the team.

“[The coaches] said, ‘Yeah, come for camp and if you get through camp, then you can stay on the team throughout the fall and into spring,” Mahoney said.

After four years on the Irish offensive line, Mahoney is looking forward to getting back 40 hours in his week, but unsure what he’ll do with it. As a football player, his schedule often involves 8 a.m. practices followed by morning classes, meetings, another practice, team dinner then homework.

“This takes up your time,” he said. “[No longer playing] will be weird because I’ve never experienced it, so I don’t know.”

Two things he will take away from his time on the line are a group of close friends and a tough work ethic.

“I think you just learn, you know, what it takes — how hard you have to work,” Mahoney said.

He looks to his fellow walk-ons senior linebacker Sean Oxley and senior cornerback Nick Lezynski for both guidance and friendship.

“It’s good. It’s a good group of friends who have this unique aspect,” Mahoney said.

For now, Mahoney said he is focused on finishing the season and preparing for law school. He is looking at both Notre Dame and Georgetown’s law programs and is also considering schools close to his Baltimore home.

Spending time on the Notre Dame football team has been both a challenging and rewarding experience, he said.

“It’s been good,” Mahoney said. “You know, it’s been tough at times. But it’s always been something I wanted to do.”