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Ben Suttman finds meaning at Notre Dame

| Friday, November 18, 2016

For senior tight end Ben Suttman, simply attending the University of Notre Dame was an aspiration since childhood.

Getting to play football for the Irish has been icing on the cake.

The Kettering, Ohio, native has strong familial ties to Notre Dame, as his dad attended the University, and so the experience of and familiarity with Notre Dame had a strong impact on Suttman’s desire to someday go to school in South Bend.

Irish senior Ben Suttman walks over to the student section to sing the Alma Mater after Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan State on Sept. 17.Michael Yu | The Observer
Irish senior Ben Suttman walks over to the student section to sing the
Alma Mater after Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan State on Sept. 17.

“It started with my family, obviously — I’ve been a huge Domer fan my whole life,” Suttman said. “I grew up coming to games, grew up on campus, and so I was attracted to this place from a very young age. I can remember back in fourth grade setting a goal to come to Notre Dame, and so from a young age I was molded into the type of person that comes to this University: a strong person who’s faith-filled and academic, but at the same time I had a passion for sports, so I think that combination really put me in a good spot.”

Suttman went to high school at Archbishop Alter and was teammates there with three other Notre Dame players: sophomore cornerback Nick Coleman, sophomore wide receiver Chris Finke, and senior quarterback Malik Zaire. Although Suttman was not offered a scholarship out of Archbishop Alter, he was still able to walk-on to the team his freshman year — an opportunity he says he will cherish forever.

“To be able to extend your athletic career past high school is an opportunity that so few people get, and to do it at a university that I have such a deep love for is something that’s been incredibly special for both me and all those that I’ve been able to share the experience with,” Suttman said. “Having this perspective as a walk-on has given me a tremendous insight into the dichotomy of being at the top of the game — I play for Notre Dame — but there are a lot of times where I’m at the bottom of the rung here, so it’s given me a tremendous perspective for what it’s like to be on both ends of the spectrum. At the same time though, getting the chance to play for Our Lady, the fans of Notre Dame — just the passion that people have for this University is just an experience of a lifetime. I’ve been incredibly blessed, no doubt.”

Notre Dame is famous for its recent tradition of producing quality tight ends — many of which are still playing in the NFL. Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack have all passed through Notre Dame on their way to the NFL, and Suttman not only understands the legacy that he’s entered into, but greatly appreciates the help that he’s received along the way.

“When I came in [as a walk-on], I worked under Ben Koyack a lot,” Suttman said. [Ben’s] not exactly our most famous tight end, but Ben’s a guy who really taught you how to come to work every day, and that’s not something you can really take for granted. So Ben’s a guy that really ushered me into ‘Tight End U’ and helped me understand what college football is like — what kind of player you have to be at this level.”

After graduation, Suttman, a marketing major, plans to move to Baltimore and start work with Under Armour after interning there this past summer. From unique moments such as catching the last pass on the grass field inside Notre Dame stadium in the spring game to the everyday routine with the team, Suttman considers himself the luckiest man in the world to have been able to play football for Notre Dame.

“It’s been a tremendous blessing,” Suttman said. “I’m the luckiest guy ever to actually be on this team — a lot of walk-ons have crazy stories about how they got here and I’m no exception. I thank God every day for the opportunity to play here — the guys I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had — it’s been extremely tough along the way, but definitely worth it.”

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a senior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. In addition to formerly serving as Sports Editor at The Observer, Joe is a RA in Stanford Hall and a past champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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