For Eddie Scheidler, Notre Dame was always a part of the plan.
“Grew up a diehard fan; parents came here, older sister came here, grandparents came here. So, a lot of Notre Dame in my blood.”
Football, however, was not.
It was in Scheidler’s senior season at Lake Forest High School in Illinois, that current Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees noticed the defensive back while visiting to recruit Rylie Mills who is now a junior defensive end with the Irish. Scheidler’s 35 tackles as a senior ranked among the team leaders. As a junior, he led the team with two forced fumbles. Rees took notice.
“One day, early in the fall, when Tommy came and visited [to recruit Mills],” Scheidler recalled. “He was like ‘hey we have some walk on spots open, would you consider walking on’ and that kind of snowballed to where we are today.”
While becoming a walk-on for the Fighting Irish may have been unexpected, Scheidler has been sure to take advantage of opportunities presented to him, both in and outside the football program. A member of Siegfried Hall, — “Go Ramblers,” the safety added — Scheidler is a marketing major and history minor. Outside of that, Scheidler is eyeing career opportunities in sports media, having taken several classes within the Sports, Media and Culture minor. He’s utilized some of that media experience with the football team this year. Continuing a tradition of player-produced media content, Scheidler created a video series titled “Welcome to Eddie St”, where he interviews Irish fans on Eddy St. He took over for former Irish safety Litchfield Ajavon and his ‘tiny mic nation’.
“I talked to Litch about it last year. Once he left, it was like trying to fill a void,” Scheidler noted. “I tore my ACL in the spring, so I wasn’t going to practice for about nine months. I wanted to do something, and might as well do it.”
However, Scheidler’s role expands far beyond the short videos posted on social media before each home game. Unable to practice with his injury, Scheidler sought out various ways to continue to have an impact. “I started doing defensive signaling so I could stay a part of the team, find a role and still contribute,” Scheidler said.
Beyond that role, Scheidler embraces his role as an upperclassman among the walk-ons, helping younger players adjust to life as a college athlete. Among those underclassmen is Scheidler’s brother, Leo, who walked on as a wide receiver.
“As an older walk-on, you have to show these guys the way things are done. I think it’s a different role as a walk-on. You’re not in the limelight and you have more of a backseat role,” Scheidler said. “It comes in things off the field … Classroom, weight room, time management, things that you don’t see on the field but translate well into life.”
Scheidler’s presence in the locker room contributes to an overall program culture that many laud as the best in the country. “Biggest thing for the culture is, my freshman year, it felt not as fluid. You come into the locker room now, as a freshman walk-on, and a superstar senior will talk to you. Everything’s more fluid, everyone knows what’s going on in each other’s lives. It wasn’t like that my freshman year. It’s like night and day. It’s awesome, it’s so much better.”
When asked about favorite memories, Scheidler, like many seniors, noted the two Clemson wins in the past three years as highlights, but he focused mainly on the off-field memories. “My favorite memories all time have to be locker rooms, before and after practice. The camaraderie, you’re just jumping around. It’s funny., some of the best conversations I’ve had in my life have come in the showers.”
Scheidler isn’t quite done with Notre Dame football; he is preparing to come back for a graduate program, but he still says the emotions of Senior Day feel surreal.
“It’ll be fun to stick around. It’s been a weird year not being able to practice because of my injury,” Scheidler said. “But it’s weird, I don’t feel like a senior. It’s gone by fast. It’s bittersweet. But it’s the best experience I’ve ever had in my life.”
Contact Aidan Thomas at email@example.com