Cam Bryan basks in complete ND football experience
Kit Loughran | Thursday, November 12, 2015
Interhall to Division I football is a pretty big jump in playing level — even more so for someone who had never touched a football growing up.
But graduate student Cam Bryan did just that.
“When I came in as a freshman, I weighed about 160 pounds and had never played football before,” Bryan said. “I played basketball in high school, and then a buddy of mine talked me into playing interhall football [for Stanford Hall].”
After one season competing for the Griffins, Bryan decided in the spring of 2014 to pursue a long-time dream: to play football for the Irish.
“I started to lift some weights, and my junior year I just felt like trying out on a whim,” the Westwood, Massachusetts, native said. “Some of the assistant coaches took a risk on me, especially in letting a kid who had never played before on the team.
“I was just learning the sport as it came along, rolling with the punches and trying to prove to them that I belong here and am worth the investment.”
But making the roster didn’t happen overnight for the 6-foot-2, and now 207-pound graduate student receiver.
“I had friends on the team, and [graduate student center] Nick Martin is one of my best friends who helped me out with a lot of training,” Bryan said. “We put together a workout program and exercises to get in shape and physically ready for the try out.
“[The coaches] told me nothing was guaranteed, but I picked it up as best I could and just tried to stay around here as long as possible.”
Bryan did stick around after those tryouts more than two years ago. The graduate student wasn’t ready to give up on his team just yet.
“I’m just here for an extra semester to be part of the team,” Bryan said. “I knew this year was going to be a special year for the team, and I didn’t want to sit back and be watching the national championship from my office, so I felt like I had to come back and be a part of it all.”
While Bryan missed the famed, undefeated 2012 season, he said there were plenty of games in his career to make up for, including one in particular.
“The best game being on the field for was definitely Stanford last year when we came back and [former Irish quarterback] Everett [Golson] threw the touchdown to Koyack in the end zone,” Bryan said. “It was just a roller coaster of emotions, and being a part of that on the sidelines was awesome.”
And before every player makes it to the sideline, there’s one game time tradition that has made Bryan’s – as well as many others’ – Notre Dame football experience all the more memorable.
“It’s cliché, but running out of the tunnel [is my favorite game moment],” Bryan said. “It’s the coolest feeling in the world because it doesn’t matter if you’re [junior wide receiver] Will Fuller or me, you still feel like you could run through a wall.
“And then once the game starts you kind of realize that you’re not Fuller, you can’t run through a wall,” Bryan laughed.
“But it’s just an awesome feeling. To have just one of those feelings left is bittersweet, but to get to experience that when thousands of people wish they could just once has been an unbelievable privilege.”
Beyond running through the tunnel, Bryan said he considers his time at Notre Dame an even more unbelievable privilege.
“To be honest, it was kind of a long shot that I would get in here; I didn’t think that I would,” Bryan said. “It was always a dream school of mine, so I kind of just applied not thinking I would get in, got waitlisted, then accepted. Then I just had no choice but to come here.
“ … Notre Dame has been an unreal experience for me, and it has really just changed my life. It’s turned my life around and me into a person that my family can be proud of.
“It’s been pretty unbelievable, to see who I was then and who I am now.”
His final semester and season at Notre Dame coming to an end, Bryan now prepares to wear a new uniform every day — after the Irish take on Wake Forest this weekend, Boston College on Nov. 21 and Stanford on Nov. 28, that is.
“I’m going to be working in investment banking in Boston for Raymond James,” Bryan said.
“The suit and tie won’t be as much fun as the gold helmet, but you have to grow up some time.”