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A Captain’s Orders: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa helps usher defense into Freeman Era 

| Friday, December 31, 2021

With the matchup between No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 9 Oklahoma State on the horizon, it’s all hands on deck for the Fighting Irish defense as they prepare to ring in the new year with a victory at the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.

Standing in the way of the trophy is an explosive Oklahoma State offensive line, which defensive-line coach Mike Elston refers to as “an incredible challenge.” Nevertheless, the Irish defense appears ready to lasso down the Cowboys thanks to leaders such as fifth-year captain and defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa. 

Tagovailoa-Amosa has demonstrated his value throughout his time at Notre Dame and is now respected as a selfless teammate and leader. Around the time the Hawaii native was named captain this past summer, Tagovailoa-Amosa received news of his father’s passing. Nevertheless, he came into the 2021 season ready to live up to his new leadership role and honor the legacy of his late father. He was willing to make several sacrifices in the process.  

“My dad preached a lot about sacrifice,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said on Aug. 17. “As you can see, I’m here now. I have to sacrifice that time with family to be able to come back here and understand I still have a purpose out here. I have a job to do.”

Tagovailoa-Amosa started the season off strong with two sacks in the win over Toledo. Missing his father’s funeral to play in the game, he contributed the strip-sack to stop the Rockets on their final drive and secure a 32-29 victory. In Notre Dame’s victory against North Carolina, Tagovailoa-Amosa posted a season high of four tackles. Throughout the game he proved to be a disruptive force for the Irish defense.

Allison Thornton | The Observer
After recovering a fumble forced by senior defensive end Isaiah Foskey, graduate student defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa runs for a touchdown. This was the second defensive touchdown of the day for the Irish during Notre Dame’s 55-0 home win over Georgia Tech on Nov. 20.

He earned his first career touchdown on a 70-yard fumble recovery against Georgia Tech. This helped the Irish to a 55-0 win, as Notre Dame finished its home schedule with a bang. Now, Tagovailoa-Amosa still has one final game to play for the Irish and is honored to do so.

I am just blessed to be in this position,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said. “It’s been really exciting this entire season in terms of the journey that it has been and things that took place this year. There was some loss, but all I can say is I’m just grateful to be here and we are excited for the Fiesta Bowl.”

Despite the coaching shifts, the mission of the Fighting Irish defense has not changed. The emphasis is on being straight and to the point, or in other words, “keep it simple.” With a clear focus on effort and attitude, Tagovailoa-Amosa and his defensive teammates know what they have to do this weekend. 

“Wherever the ball is, you’re gonna see 11 guys swarming this weekend,”  Tagovailoa-Amosa said. “You’re gonna see 11 blue jerseys swarming, 11 gold helmets swarming, and that’s just the attitude and mindset we have. The ball’s not down until the carrier is down.” 

Tagovailoa-Amosa appeared optimistic about the defense’s ability to take on Oklahoma State. He has been part of two Notre Dame teams that made runs to the college football playoffs. Because of that, Tagovailoa-Amosa understands the defense’s role in winning their first major bowl game since the 1993 Cotton Bowl. 

“Put the ball down anywhere and you’ll put us in the perfect position to make the best play,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said. “Coach Elston has done a great job of putting us in a good position to be successful.”

Playbook aside, Tagovailoa-Amosa’s biggest goal for this weekend’s game is to honor his senior teammates by sending them home with a victory. 

“I think that the biggest goal for us is just sending our seniors home the right way,” Tagovailoa- Amosa said. “There’s a lot of guys who helped build this program and put it into place where it is now. I’ve been here at this place with some of these guys for five years. It would be great to send them home with a win.” 

The respect and care with which Tagovailoa-Amosa speaks about his teammates is reflective of the bond of brotherhood within the Notre Dame football team. Taking the time to understand and appreciate this tradition has taught Tagovailoa-Amosa what playing the game is all about. 

“I think the culture here is really what puts Notre Dame on top,” Tagovailoa-Amosa said. “There’s a culture here built upon trust, upon love, and above all about the brotherhood. You’ll hear us talk about the brotherhood day in and day out because that’s truly what it’s about. It’s about playing the sport that you love for your brothers and it’s all about the team. That’s really what it is.”

Catch Tagovailoa-Amosa and the rest of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense in action as they take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, January 1, 2022 at 1 p.m. E.T. on ESPN.

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