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Center Sam Mustipher leads by example for Notre Dame

| Friday, November 17, 2017

Maryland native Sam Mustipher began playing football at the age of five and fell in love with it.

“My dad played football, so when I was younger, straight out of the womb, that was the first sport I was taught,” Mustipher said. “I did that, basketball, baseball — I was terrible at that — and I wrestled for a little bit as well, but football is always my first passion.”

Chris Collins | The Observer
Senior center Sam Mustipher blocks a Wake Forest defender during Notre Dame’s 48-37 win on Nov. 4.

When the time for the recruiting process hit, though, Mustipher found it was not all it is cracked up to be.

“It was fun at first, getting all of that attention, but after a while it gets stressful,” Mustipher said. “A lot of phone calls from coaches and the media members were the worst, but it’s alright. It was fun, it was a blessing obviously, but I’m glad I’m here.”

Eventually, Mustipher fell in love with Notre Dame.

“I don’t know, there’s just something special about this place,” he said. “That’s probably your generic answer. Growing up, I wasn’t a Notre Dame fan. I didn’t even know where Notre Dame was, but I visited my first time and fell in love with the campus and everybody.”

Running through the tunnel for the first time was an incredible experience, according to Mustipher.

“It’s indescribable. All your teammates tell you ‘You’ll never forget it,’” Mustipher said. “That was something that they preached to me Day One, ‘You’ll never forget your first time ever running out of the tunnel.’ Ours was Rice my freshmen year and you’ll never forget it. It’s like, ‘Wow, I’m at the University of Notre Dame.’”

Mustipher’s success at Notre Dame as been undeniable. The senior center is currently on the Rimington Trophy watch list — which is awarded to the best center in college football each season.

“It feels good. It’s an honor,” Mustipher said. “I owe a lot of credit to obviously my coaches and my teammates for pushing me to be better every day and I feel like if this team continues to do what it’s destined to do, we work the way were supposed to work, all the individual things will come with time.”

After coming off a 4-8 season, Mustipher is very appreciative of his coaches and his teammates, and the transformation the squad has been able to make, coming together.

“It’s pretty incredible. I felt that it was coming,” Mustipher said. “The games we lost last year were by very little margins. With [Irish head coach Brian] Kelly being receptive to all the suggestions that the players had and the suggestions that the coaches had. I feel like he understood what this team needed and what this team wanted moving forward.”

On and off the field, Sam Mustipher is a well-rounded person. He can speak, write and read basic French off the field, while on the field he serves as the vocal leader of the tightly-knit offensive line.

“On the field, I feel like my job is to tie the group together, make sure the scheme is set up in the right way, and that all the guys are on the same page each and every play,” Mustipher said. “Off the field, I kind of take a less vocal leadership role than obviously the captains do, but obviously I try to lead by example and also just by caring for guys. I feel like guys know they can reach out to me.”

Mustipher said he looks up to both his parents as his role models.

“My dad, especially [is my role model]. We share the same name,” he said. “It’s just something special in our family that we do and just his work ethic. From where he’s come from to where he is today is awesome and incredible and something I aspire to do.”

Looking at the rest of the season, Mustipher’s goals are the same as the teams.

“Obviously, I’m going to do whatever I can to help Notre Dame win and I feel like everybody else does to,” he said. “I want to help my unit be the best, our offensive line, our six guys and then all the guys in the group whether second string, third string or scout team, it doesn’t matter. We want to be the best that we can be. Just working hard every day and get to our ultimate goal and see what happens.”

Thinking back to his time here at Notre Dame, Mustipher has enjoyed it all.

“This season has been pretty fun. It’s my second year starting. I’m understanding the game a little better,” he said. “I already had experience so it was fun this year to go out and play ball. USC was obviously one of our biggest ones. A lot of fun beating a rival like that.”

Currently, Mustipher does not have any set plans after graduation.

“I am probably going to come back for a fifth year next year,” Mustipher said. “If the NFL presents itself down the road that’s definitely something I will pursue, but if not then I will enter into the working world. Hopefully in a cyber security job.”

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