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Mahoney looks toward law school after football

Brian Hartnett | Thursday, November 15, 2012

Although it took graduate student offensive linesman Dennis Mahoney more than three seasons to get into a game, it didn’t take him long to make an impact on the field.
Minutes after taking the field in the fourth quarter of Notre Dame’s 59-33 victory over Air Force last October, Mahoney, playing right tackle, was asked to pull and block an inside linebacker. Mahoney executed the play with ease and opened a hole to allow then-sophomore quarterback Andrew Hendrix to scramble 78 yards downfield, the longest run of the season for the Irish.

“It was the first time I had ever gone in, and they called the tackle pull,” Mahoney said. “I was a little shocked, but it was great. The most special part of my time here was getting in the Air Force game.”

The block against Air Force represented the culmination of a dream for Mahoney, a life-long Notre Dame fan.

“My family always loved Notre Dame, and I was always a huge fan growing up,” Mahoney said. “I always wanted to be part of it, and it was always the dream.”

As Mahoney grew into his 6-foot-7, 294-pound frame, he became a force on the offensive line at Boys Latin School in Towson, Md., gathering all-conference honors. Although he received interest from Princeton, Harvard and other Ivy League schools, he decided to attend Notre Dame, where he had been accepted early as a student.

“It wasn’t really that difficult,” Mahoney said of his decision. “You’re in front of 80,000 people [at Notre Dame], even if you’re not playing, and just being part of Notre Dame is a different experience.”

With the help of his high school coach, Mahoney contacted Irish coaches and sent them a highlight film at the end of his senior year. The Irish coaches responded by offering him a preferred walk-on spot, which allowed him to come to camp with regular scholarship players.

“I was in a different position because most walk-ons come on in the spring, so it was just me and two other [preferred walk-ons],” Mahoney said. “It was different, but I got along well with everybody, and they were all very welcoming.”

After getting through his initial fall camp, Mahoney has spent the last five seasons practicing with the offensive line. The former Dillon Hall resident, who prefers to play tackle, said he has formed a tight bond with both his fellow linesmen and walk-ons.

“It’s great because [the offensive linesmen and walk-ons] are tighter communities within the program,” Mahoney said. “Those are the kids I’ll be friends with forever.”
Mahoney’s strong work ethic on the line was rewarded last season when he appeared in two games. In addition to his appearance in the Air Force game, Mahoney made the team’s travel roster and played against Maryland when the Irish visited FedEx Field in Washington last November.

“I think I had 22 people [at the Maryland game],” Mahoney said. “It was great to get back and see everybody, since they didn’t always get to come to Notre Dame. My grandfather played for Maryland, and he was there, so it was special.”

The history major graduated in May and is currently enrolled in graduate courses. He said the decision to come back for a fifth year was not a difficult one.

“I just had the opportunity to come back, and I knew we’d do real well this year,” he said. “I wanted to be part of it.”
Mahoney said he is currently in the process of applying to law school. He plans to apply to Notre Dame, Virginia and Georgetown, among others.
Regardless of where he ends up, Mahoney said he is not quite sure how he will adjust to his life beyond football.

“It will be weird, since football’s been my life the past four-and-a-half years,” Mahoney said. “I don’t really know what to expect, since I won’t have to work out everyday or adjust my eating schedule for football.”

In addition to his time on the football team, Mahoney said the close friendships he’s created would be what he best remembers about Notre Dame.
“I think I’ll take away the relationships I’ve made with people, day in and day out,” he said. “Going through all this with others has allowed me to make some strong friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Contact Brian Hartnett at
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