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irish insider

Jake Rittman embodies strength of walk on community

| Friday, November 19, 2021

For Jake Rittman, walk-on punter/wide receiver and current president of the Notre Dame Walk-On Players’ Union, or “WOPU Nation,” as it is commonly referred to by the football team – the walk-on community has been the defining piece of his football experience here at Notre Dame.

“The walk-on community here is pretty special,” Rittman said. “The brand kind of goes back to Rudy, but the Union was started in about 2012-2013 by walk-ons. It was just an organization that helps walk-ons connect with alumni. We hold events, formals, golf outings and just to stay together. You know, being a walk-on is not always the most glorious role, whether it’s playing scout team, or boosting the team GPA, if you will. We just like to stick together, and I was passed down the presidency from John Mahoney, who was the president last year. It’s just awesome to help the younger guys and to help build relationships with all the other walk-ons.”

One of these other walk-ons is QB Cole Capen, who is one of Rittman’s best friends. The pair had nothing but good things to say about each other, and it is clear that the bond between walk-ons is a strong one both on and off the field, as the two coach the Badin Hall flag football team together.

“Jake’s one of my best friends, I’ve lived with him for two years now,” Capen says of Rittman. “He’s a great guy, we hit it off right away as both walk-ons of the same age. We’ve been through a lot together, I’d say, just from the start to now, and he’s a really good coach for our flag football team.”

Photo Courtesy of ND Athletics
Irish senior punter Jake Rittman runs down the sideline during Notre Dame’s 27-13 win over Purdue on Sep. 18 at Notre Dame Stadium.

Let’s hope that Rittman’s success as a flag football coach matches the success that he has seen on the field, where the Notre Dame team is a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points held by Rittman. It is a statistic of which he is very proud.

“I appreciate the question because you normally only talk about the holder if they screw up,” Rittman says with a laugh. “I’ve been able to get in for a few extra points, 4-for-4. As I like to tell people, every time I’ve been on the field, a point has been scored for Notre Dame. But its awesome, just being able to say I got on the field at Notre Dame is something I’ll be able to brag to my kids, grandkids, friends for the rest of my life.”

Rittman is not completely decided on his post-graduation plans but is leaning towards sales in the technology or medical industry.

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