Plantz follows father’s footsteps to Notre Dame
Joseph Monardo | Thursday, November 21, 2013
Growing up in Frankfort, Ill., Tyler Plantz and his brothers would wake up every morning to a panorama view of Notre Dame Stadium. Now, Plantz has seen an insider’s view of the very structure he grew up admiring.
Plantz, a senior running back for the Irish, said his father, Ron, an offensive lineman for Notre Dame from 1982-1985, placed a bedroom-wall mural as an early selling point for his alma mater.
“It’s like ridiculous,” Plantz said jokingly. “Absolutely brainwashing. It’s cool, but it’s like, ‘You are going to consider another school? No, that’s not even possible.'”
Plantz stayed at least unbiased enough to extend his college search to a few other schools after accumulating 287 tackles in his final two years as a linebacker at Providence Catholic High School. Although he had options at programs in both the Ivy League and in the Mid-American Conference, Plantz said he could not turn down the opportunity to walk on at Notre Dame.
“I sent [the Irish coaching staff] some stuff, they said they were impressed, if they could find a spot, then absolutely,” Plantz said. “So that’s always been the goal at the end of the day, was to come to play football here. So it was almost just a no-brainer at the end of the day. It’s just, I had to come here.”
A frequent visitor for football Saturdays throughout his life, Plantz had developed a comfort with the campus well before he officially enrolled, although not all of his visits inspire fond memories.
“Really, I remember Notre Dame since as long as I can remember,” he said. “We would always stop by the Grotto, That’s my mom’s favorite place in the world so that was always a big part growing up.
“Actually, I was here, probably one of the craziest memories, probably the 2005, I think it was the “Bush Push” game. I was actually with my brothers. We actually started crying. So that was a pretty emotional game for us.”
Following a freshman-year stint on his dorm’s interhall football team, the former Morrissey resident made the transition to the varsity squad, as planned.
“I remember one of my first practices,” Plantz said. “One of the walk-ons, Pat Coughlin, he was a running back, too, from Chicago. And I was all excited. I wake up at like 5:00 for a 7:00 practice, and I take a shower, I’m like stretching in the shower. And he comes up, eyes all glossy. I’m like, ‘Man, how are you not excited to play Notre Dame football?’ He’s like, ‘Wait a couple years, man. It’s definitely a grind.’ And I was like, ‘No, I think like I’m going to be like this every day.'”
Plantz has seen time on special teams for the Irish, and although he has experienced the grind described by Coughlin, his enthusiasm for the team has hardly waned.
“It really is a cool thing just being able to sit back, and that’s one of the cool things about being a walk-on,” he said.
“A lot of these guys, they take every single day and they aren’t necessarily getting the same glory as a lot of the other guys are. Everyone loves the university the same, but these guys go day in and day out with not as much accolades as the other players, and I think that’s a pretty cool thing that I respect a lot.”
Plantz and senior cornerback Joe Romano are serving as this year’s senior leaders of the “Walk-On Players Union.”
“That’s probably one of my best memories,” Plantz said of WOPU, which he admits is more of a loose conglomeration than a powerful union. “Even meeting all the guys that were walk-ons, even older guys, with the younger guys coming in, helping them to assimilate to the whole situation. Because it’s a little different from a scholarship guys, where sometimes there is someone looking out for you. Because sometimes they take on different guys at different times, so they don’t have best friends to lean on like the freshmen who come in with groups of 20.”
Plantz said he hopes to apply for a fifth year of eligibility to return to the team next year, when his younger brother Logan could be a freshman at the University. Plantz’s other brother, Zachary, is currently a junior at Notre Dame on the rugby team. As far as Tyler’s plans beyond graduation, the finance major is considering a job on Wall Street or in consulting, with another strong option in the back of his mind, as well.
“Maybe potentially coaching route, which is pretty cool, too,” Plantz said. “So being in a program like this presents those kinds of opportunities. You know, I’ve always loved football, so it would be tough to get away from it. Maybe potentially executive level in the NFL would be a pretty good spot.
“But, honestly, I’m wide open right now.”
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