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McCarthy follows in his brothers’ footsteps

Kevin Noonan | Thursday, November 15, 2012

Irish graduate student safety Dan McCarthy is a family man – and his family is a Notre Dame family that bleeds blue and gold through and through.
He is the third of his brothers to attend Notre Dame, and his older brother Kyle was in his senior year as a safety and for the Irish football team when Dan came in as a freshman.

But the family roots go deeper than just this generation, and McCarthy pays homage to this history every time he puts on his jersey.

“My grandfather went here and played sports here, and I wear 15 because that’s what my grandpa wore,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy came to Notre Dame as a freshman after a successful high school career that saw him named Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio, a second-team USA Today All-American and offensive player of the year for his division by the Associated Press.

That high school success didn’t immediately translate into college success, as McCarthy sat out his freshman season, and then struggled to gain playing time his next two seasons.

McCarthy played in 12 of the 13 games of the 2011 season, primarily making his impact on special teams, and finished the season tied for fifth for the Irish in special teams tackles. He has continued to see playing time on special teams and as a reserve safety this season.

But the experience of playing for the Irish is one that McCarthy cherishes for more than just playing time.

“Being an Irish Catholic, it’s been my dream my whole life,” McCarthy said. “We have pictures of my brother and I in front of Touchdown Jesus from when we were five years old. You know just with memories like that, being able to make that a dream come true has just been amazing and been a great ride.”
McCarthy, who completed his degree in finance in May and is currently in graduate studies, remembers what it was like to come in as a freshman and have a ready-made mentor in his brother to look up to.

“[Playing with my brother] was awesome, he was always there as a leadership role for me. He set a great example on and off the field and it was also great to just be here and hang out with him. That was a very neat experience,” McCarthy said.

And now that he is an elder member of the team, McCarthy sees himself filling a similar role for the younger players in his own way.

“You know it’s kind of funny, you take on the role of kind of guiding those guys,” McCarthy said. “It’s pretty cool because you’ve been there and you know what to expect and you kind of let them know what to expect, and tell them to just keep working and it’s fun watching them.”

Even since his high school days as a football star at Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, Ohio, McCarthy has been actively involved in areas outside of football. He was a member of the National Honor Society in high school, and served on his school’s student council for all four years.

That involvement carried over to Notre Dame. He is engrained enough in the business school to be able to repeat the party line on cue – “I graduated with a finance degree from the business school, and you know Notre Dame has the No. 1 business school.”

Outside of the classroom, McCarthy is an avid fisher and a member of Notre Dame’s fishing club.

“I’m trying to get out on the lake to try to beat my record of an eight-and-a-half pound bass last spring,” McCarthy said. “That’s something that I love to do here and hopefully we can continue to grow the Notre Dame fishing club.”

The future is uncertain according to McCarthy, but wherever he goes, he’ll bring with him his attitude and playing style (and a finance degree from the No. 1 business school in the country).

“I just play every play like it’s your last, just leave it all out there,” McCarthy said.

Contact Kevin Noonan at
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