Following Flynt - Walk-on Wednesday

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

Like Nick Lezynski and Chris Salvi stated in previous editions of Walk-on Wednesday, running out of the Notre Dame Stadium tunnel had always been a dream. The same can be said for Sean Oxley. And like the rest of the football walk-ons, it took a special type of commitment to turn that vision into a reality.

Unlike many walk-on student-athlete, Oxley joined the Irish at the beginning of his freshman year.

"Coming out of high school I was recruited by the Ivy League schools and FCS programs, smaller schools mostly," he says. "I had contacted Notre Dame because Notre Dame was my dream school since I was a little kid. My dad went here and I came up every fall for games, so it was kind of like a dream for me."

After sending letters and film expressing his interest in joining the program, the Avon Lake, Ohio, native received some good news - the Irish wanted him to be part of the team. Still, hearing the news that he hoped for was only the beginning of Oxley's story.

Along with Matt Mulvey and Bobby Burger ('11), Oxley was pushed through a series of intense workouts during his first semester on campus, fall 2008.

"There was one conditioning coach that was assigned to the three of us ... for eight weeks, his job was to make us quit the team.

"We were coming in at five or six in the morning throughout the week. We'd do a two-hour workout with him, which was just conditioning like I had never done before. We did those in the morning, then we went to meetings and practice, just like everybody else in the afternoon."

Despite his desire to play for the Irish, Oxley admits that he sometimes had second thoughts.

"After chasing this dream for so long, I never thought that anybody would potentially put it in my mind that I should quit, but after a few of those workouts, I was definitely considering it."

But Oxley, as well as Mulvey and Burger, made their conditioning coach's job much more difficult than he probably wanted it to be. After eight weeks, all three were left standing, having earned their spot on the Notre Dame football team.

This year, the former O'Neill Hall resident is the leader of WOPU Nation. While WOPU does take things seriously from time to time, he explained that at the end of the day, it's a "more like the good ol' boys club than anything else."

"The life of a walk-on is not as glamorous as Rudy made it out to be, so it's nice for the guys, whenever they're struggling or anything, we can kind of lean on each other because we all know we're going through the same thing."

In addition to the brotherhood and support system, the lighthearted, joking aspect of WOPU is a significant part of the unofficial walk-on organization.

"We've got some massive email threads where we're just poking fun at each other. Football's fun and sometimes we lose track of that, but with WOPU, we're able to bring that back in and remember what it's all about."

As U.S. presidential hopefuls are gearing up for 2012, Oxley is also watching for who might be able to fill his role next season.

"It's going to be tough. We were kind of short on younger guys and then we just got a whole bunch with this new freshman class. Typically, it's been a senior, not that it's a structured thing, but I've definitely got my eye on a few people."

As a senior, the finance major is interviewing for jobs with investment banks, but having been injured last season, Oxley has not ruled out returning to Notre Dame.

"I haven't really thought about a fifth year, but if that were presented to me, I would definitely have to consider it," he says.

Whether he's headed to Wall Street or back to the Bend will be decided some time in the upcoming months. For now, Oxley is enjoying his time with the Irish.

"I feel blessed that I've gotten to meet the kids that I have on the team. All of the guys on the team are great," he says.

"But obviously you can see that the walk-ons kind of have that special bond. Getting to know all those guys and just realizing that they're some of the most incredible people and their stories and everything. That's been good for me. I'm really glad I've been a part of that and it's something that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life."

Getting to Know Sean Oxley

Favorite place on campus ... South Dining Hall

Favorite dining hall food ... Carl's chicken sandwich

Favorite TV show ... Blue Mountain State

Favorite sports team ... Pittsburgh Steelers

Favorite athlete ... Patrick Willis

Most played song on my iPod ... "Lights" by Bassnectar ("I got into techno last summer.")

Favorite book ... Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis

Favorite sport other than football ... Basketball. I played basketball, baseball and ran track in high school. I was on the 4x100m relay team. I tried the 400m and did long jump, high jump and threw shot put. I did a lot in track, but I wouldn't necessarily say I was very good at it.

Hobbies ... I watch a ton of movies and play as many other sports as I can when I'm not playing football. Other than that, I would say watching sports and reading.

Favorite movie ... Tough to choose. I like "Pulp Fiction"

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