Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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Fighting Irish Digital Media intern Josh Flynt ('11) continues to provide the inside scoop on the Notre Dame football program for Irish UNDerground ...

One of the most exciting plays in Notre Dame's 31-13 victory over Michigan State was George Atkinson's 89-yard kickoff return late in the first quarter. If you were at Notre Dame Stadium, you may have missed the crucial block that helped set up Atkinson's touchdown return, the first by a Notre Dame freshman since Rocket Ismail in 1988.

If you saw the replay during NBC's broadcast, you probably heard commentator Mike Mayock key in on senior Chris Salvi, who took out two Spartan defenders, making way for Atkinson to cut up the right sideline.

Salvi, a walk-on safety from Lake Forest, Ill., first came to Notre Dame for the fall semester of 2009 after playing his freshman season at Butler University in Indianapolis.

"I knew as soon as I got into Notre Dame that I was going to try out (for the team). There was no question about that. Such a large part of why I wanted to be a part of Notre Dame was the football program," he says.

Now living off-campus, the former Dillon Hall resident walked on to the team during his first semester in South Bend, along with fellow Butler transfer and teammate Evan Wray.

Walk-on tryouts are usually held during the winter in preparation for spring practice, but Salvi and Wray talked to Tim McDonnell, the team's director of football personnel, who was able to get them an earlier tryout.

"I think maybe they had more confidence in us since we had played at Butler," Salvi says.

About a week after the tryout, the political science major received a phone call from McDonnell, informing him that he was now a part of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

"I had no idea. I actually didn't really know if I had done well in the tryout. Tim called me and I was extremely thankful and reassured him that I was going to work hard. Right after that I had to call my old man and let him know because he's my biggest fan and he was thrilled," Salvi recalls.

Since making the team, Salvi has appreciated the challenge of the walk-on experience, and of course, enjoyed being part of WOPU Nation.

"WOPU is a great support staff. We've got a group of people going through the same thing, not that it's a bad thing. It's just something that's not easy. When you have other guys who are working with you and experiencing similar things, it's great to be able to talk about it and help one another out."

Salvi played defensively in last season's games against Boston College and Western Michigan and appeared in nine games on special teams.

Though the block on Saturday is perhaps the defining moment of his career thus far, it is not his favorite memory in an Irish uniform. That title belongs to a play he made in 2010 against this week's opponent, Pittsburgh.

"Besides running out of the tunnel, making a tackle on kickoff last year against Pitt [is my favorite Notre Dame memory]. I had made a 'bucket list' when I got into Notre Dame a couple of years ago, and that was one of the goals. The block is a close second."


Getting to Know Chris Salvi

Favorite place on campus ... Notre Dame Stadium

Favorite dining hall food ... Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Favorite TV Show ... Entourage

Sports team ... Chicago Bears

Favorite athlete ... Mike Brown ("he played for the Bears when I was growing up")

Most played song on my iPod ... "Donald Trump" by Mac Miller

Favorite sport other than football ... Boxing

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