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Austin Webster works his way from walk-on to captain

| Friday, November 17, 2017

From a walk-on to a captain on scholarship, wide receiver Austin Webster’s story at Notre Dame will warm any football fan’s heart.

“It’s been a blessing for sure,” Webster said of his journey. “Pros [of being a captain], you got more responsibility on your belt, you feel like your actions and your words are always valued, That can be a pro and con, con is that you always have to be on your A game, since everyone is watching. They are going to view you as a way to go about everything.

”But without a doubt it’s a pro for me cause I love to be in that kind of position. It’s kind of my bread and butter so I feel comfortable in that position. Best part is that I get to do it with a group of guys that I love.”

Working his way from the ground up, Webster was a member of the offensive scout team his freshman year, made his debut against UMass sophomore year, continued to be on the scout team junior year without seeing any action on the field and now steps on the field with the honor of being a captain.

“Definitely a big shout out to my parents first,” Webster said. “There were multiple times my freshman year when I would call my dad especially, but also my mom, and just be like ‘Yo this is tough, how do I get through this?’ They were there since day one.”

Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer
Irish senior wide receiver Austin Webster lines up at the line of scrimmage during the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium on April 22. Webster was named a captain and earned a scholarship this year.

After three years of persistence and the support he received from his parents and the team, Webster was awarded his scholarship on Aug. 10 during summer camp.

“I remember that day clearly, without a doubt,” Webster said. “We were right towards the end of summer camp at that point. Doing it for four years, you learn how to stay focused. You kind of get in the grind and your mind is ‘Wake up, eat, football, sleep.’ You get into that routine. It was like any other normal day. Only difference was that we were going to see the new locker room for the first time.

“Coach started talking about this new locker room, us being the first team to ever play in it and what that meant. He was talking about how he wanted to put one guy’s name up first and he put my name up. At that point I had no idea, I had the mindset of just getting through the day and improving. It was a shock at first. That was the dream, that was one of the bigger reasons why I am here, to help my teammates, help win a national championship and on a personal level get a scholarship and help my parents pay for me coming here. It took 30-45 minutes to sink in.”

Following the scholarship announcement and practice, Webster said the support and love radiating from his parents and team is unforgettable.

“We had practice right after that in the stadium and I didn’t have access to my phone,” Webster said. “There was 45 minutes to an hour before I could call my parents. I was like ‘Oh jeez, are they going to announce it on social media?’ Because my mom is all over that. I thought she was going to find out before I even got to tell her. But after those 45 minutes, I was able to tell them first. Telling them was the best part in the world, to hear their reaction over the phone. I will never forget when I was awarded the scholarship how my teammates reacted. How excited they were for me, that reaffirmed for me I chose the school for the people and the guys. And I chose right.”

Along with being awarded a scholarship and a captain position, Webster said the game against Stanford his freshman year and the USC game this year are the most memorable games in his career.

“First biggest game I will remember is when I played Stanford my freshman year,” Webster said. “It was 35 degrees, just warm enough to be rain and not snowing, and it was pouring rain. It came down to the last second, my boy [former Irish tight end Ben] Koyack caught a touchdown in the end zone right in the corner. That was the first big game I participated in D1 football. To have it come down to the wire like that in the freezing cold, rain, it was fun.

”This year, the most memorable for me was the game against USC. This is the year I’m getting the most playing time and being from LA it meant something different, something special. To go out and dominate, I will never forget. That’s the kind of game I will be telling my kids and friends for years.”

Playing for the Irish for four years and creating memories on the field, Webster noted his experience at Notre Dame will continue to affect him well after graduation.

“Probably the biggest thing I will obtain from being at this university is knowing how to get through really difficult times and just knowing how to be gritty,” Webster said. “Especially when things aren’t going your way. Especially coming from high school, you are kind of the top dog, the big fish in the small pond. But when you come here, starting as a walk-on, you are now the lowest on the totem pole. You learn how to persevere through all of that, as well as being at a highly talented D1 football school and being at a premier academic institution, you learn to balance all of that. I have those skill for the rest of my life, how to perform at a high level in multiple fields. It was academics and athletics in this setting, but no doubt in the future it will be very helpful.”

Stepping into life after graduation, Webster’s perseverance will aid him through his career journey.

“Last semester I had what I call a ‘mid-college’ life crisis. I did a couple internships and I am a fan of finance, but I wasn’t finding a lot of finance jobs available that made me feel fulfilled. So I started looking towards a medical route, potentially going to medical school and that’s still an option for sure.

“But while thinking of that, I always wanted to serve in the military, and I found a position that is kind of the best of both worlds. It’s called a combat rescue officer in the Air Force. A Spec Ops, operation where they are basically certified EMTs and they command paramedics. It combines the whole medical aspect I was looking for and feeling fulfilled. I saw that as an opportunity. As of now that’s the goal — it’s not easy, but that’s the initial goal to work towards and I will see what God has in store for me. I am along for the journey.”

Reflecting on his four years at Notre Dame and all the relationships he has built, Webster said he cannot thank the senior class enough.

“Shout out to senior class, this senior class has been through a lot,” Webster said. “We’ve been through the Fiesta Bowl, been a season when we’ve gone to the Music City Bowl and a season when we haven’t gone to a bowl, we have gone through virtually almost everything except playoffs, which is the goal this year. We have been through the thick and thin of it and we all love each other.”

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About Meagan Bens

Meagan is a junior Visual Communication Design major and Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy minor living in Lyons Hall. She serves as a sports writer and hails from the suburbs of Chicago.

Contact Meagan