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Michael “Milk” Vinson has become outstanding for the Irish

| Friday, November 19, 2021

For those wondering where the nickname “Milk” came from, the story is a good one.

“I was first given the nickname of Milk when I was a freshman here at Notre Dame by our then punter, Tyler Newsome,” Vinson said. “Tyler Newsome nicknamed the specialist unit the ‘Cheese Unit’ and when I was in training camp, I had to earn my cheese status, if you will, so then he gave me the temporary nickname of Milk. Then it just kind of stuck, and from here on out I’m just known as Milk. Coach Kelly called me Milk down at Wake Forest in 2018, and that really just made it stick with him.”

The nickname has remained ever since, but “Milk” has left his mark on more than just the locker room. The former walk-on has been the starting long snapper for the Irish for two years now, and his performance during Notre Dame’s run to the College Football Playoff in the 2020-21 season earned a nomination for the Burlsworth Trophy, an award given to college football’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. The recognition of his progress on the field meant a lot to Vinson.

“It was definitely really cool being nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy, for the most outstanding walk-on player of the year,” Vinson said. “Being a member of WOPU Nation here as we call it has been a tremendous honor for me. I’ve met some of my best friends, you know we’ve bonded over the fact that we all pay for school, and we all start on the scout team. It’s just been a lot of fun, and we do a lot of good things in WOPU, and it’s just nice when walk-ons get that recognition because we’re working just as hard as the scholarship players.”


Allison Thornton | The Observer
Irish senior long snapper Michael Vinson brings the energy to pregame warmups ahead of Notre Dame’s 34-6 win over Navy at Notre Dame Stadium on Nov. 6.

Vinson’s hard work and that of the other walk-ons was on display last season, when the team faced innumerable challenges during a season marred by COVID. All that time and energy was worth it, however, when the team was able to knock off Clemson on their home turf.

“My favorite on-field memory was definitely beating Clemson last year at home,” says Vinson. “It was a really weird year, and a lot of people were upset that they couldn’t go to the games. It was a lot of adversity dealing with the protocols and all that stuff, and everything in that moment, when the clock hit zero, and then we went to double overtime and then our defense stopped them on fourth down and the game was over and we beat them, everything was worth it at that point.”

Vinson hopes to return for another season with the Irish next year as he looks to continue his education as a graduate student in Notre Dame’s M.S. in Management program.

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