Carney preps for final curtain call with Irish
Jamison Cook | Friday, December 18, 2020
With a Notre Dame alum for a father, J.D. Carney has been bleeding blue and gold for as long as he can remember. It seemed only right that he would follow his father’s footsteps and join the Fighting Irish, a dream that came true late in his high school career.
“I was raised to love Notre Dame, brainwashed, some might say, as my father went here,” he said. “I went to a football camp my junior year going into my senior year; it was one of Notre Dame’s passing camps and that kind of opened up the door for me to come here. I just say that God opened a door, and I was recruited a little bit as a preferred walk-on. And that’s what allowed me to get my foot in the door here.”
From the moment he joined the football team, Carney loved nothing more than building relationships with his teammates day after day.
“I’d say a lot of my favorite memories are just the daily grind that I’ve experienced on the team,” he said. “Some kids would think I’m a psychopath for saying this, but we have these team themed workouts, which are extremely difficult, but I have a lot of great memories from those and just going through the grind with my teammates is my favorite part.”
Carney helped with signal calling on the sidelines and played the role of scout team quarterback this fall, making him an integral part of the team’s preparation for a new opponent each week. He led the scouting ahead of the season finale against Syracuse, and towards the end of the game got to step on the home field for the last time as a member of the Fighting Irish.
“It was something I was mentally preparing for all week,” Carney said. “I knew it would be a small moment and really quick and would go by really fast, but I was excited for it and it definitely came to fruition. I was overjoyed to just be out there with my teammates and to see my fellow [senior] walk-ons at my side, whether it’s [tight end] Jack Henige or [running back] Cam [Ekanayake] and some of the other guys that made it out there. So it was cool, because there’s so much preparation in my mind going into that moment and then getting to see it happen, just as we had hoped it would, was really exciting.”
For most Notre Dame students, the stress of completing a college degree is enough to keep them occupied. For those also playing a Division I sport or pursuing a second major, the schedule is incredibly demanding. But Carney somehow finds a way to balance both theology and film, television and theatre majors with the daily grind of college football at the highest level, all while participating in the University’s theater program.
“When I did the Great Gatsby play, I had football practice from essentially 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then theater practice or rehearsal from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with school in between,” Carney said. “So it was a crazy semester for time management, but definitely one of my most memorable experiences here, and I think that’s what kickstarted my desire to pursue acting after college. I’m looking to head towards Los Angeles to continue to explore my film degree.”
But before the San Diego, CA native leaves South Bend to return to the west coast, Carney will get to spend the last weeks of the season with the teammates that have become his family on and off the field.
“It was one of the coolest things to be a part of, and to have my teammates come to my show and support me was one of the things I’m most grateful for,” Carney said.