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Preseason Practice Update - August 13

Under Armour is helping the Irish look like green monsters in front of the Green Monster on Nov. 21.

Aug. 14, 2015

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A good walk-on is a good soldier.

The Irish got their first glimpse at the special Under Armour Shamrock Series uniform for the 2014 game in Indianapolis when staffers pulled the sheet off of a mannequin. Head coach Brian Kelly wanted something more in 2015.

Yesterday, equipment manager Ryan Grooms told senior running back and walk-on Josh Anderson that there would be an unscheduled team meeting at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday morning. They said not to tell his teammates but the meeting would be their advance peek of the 2015 Shamrock Series uniform and coach Kelly would like him to be the model.

On Kelly's cue, Anderson sauntered into the room to show off the green uniform and Leprechaun-emblazed gold helmets that the Irish will wear at Fenway Park on Nov. 21 against Boston College. Kelly said that they would be the green monsters in the home of the fabled Green Monster.

Kelly complimented Anderson on his modeling ability, but said that the model student-athlete had more in store than just modeling. After three years of blood and sweat helping prepare the Irish for games on the scout team, Anderson would now be a scholarshiped member of the team.

The team erupted as the seniors sitting in the front row mobbed their teammate in jubilation while the underclassmen stood, hooted and hollered from their seats in the back rows.

"Grooms came to me and said they need someone to model the jersey," Anderson recalled. "I said I would do it. No big deal. He said to make sure I didn't tell anybody so I kept it a secret. This morning, I had no clue still. I was just putting on a uniform. Afterwards, when coach Kelly started saying such good things about me, it kind of hit me. I still can't really process it."

Appropriately, the player who reached Anderson first among the flash mob was starting middle linebacker Joe Schmidt who came to Notre Dame as a walk-on.

The Irish's "WOPU Nation" (Walk-On Players Union) is a particularly tight-knit group. They maintain their own twitter feed and set of customs, including a W-shaped hand sign. Every year, a group of 20-something members of the team pay their own tuition (now in excess of $60,000 a year) to attend Notre Dame yet make time to compete with the football team around classes and other responsibilities. Often an extra scholarship will find a handful WOPU Nation members at the start of their senior years, fulfilling a dream.

"It means a lot," Anderson said. "It gives a lot of guys hope. It gives me and everyone in WOPU Nation drive. The jobs we do are truly important, getting our team ready for the next opponent. Giving them the best possible (look) is extremely important to me."

"He's a senior for us that has done everything we've asked over the last four years," Kelly said of why he chose Anderson who has yet to play a down for the Irish. "He's taken more hits than any one of our backs. He's a scout team player. He's done everything. He's a great student, well-respected by all of his teammates."

The timing of Kelly's announcement provided a challenge on a human level. Anderson hails from Chatsworth, California, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles and firmly entrenched in the Pacific time zone. One of the greatest pieces of news in his young and flourishing life happened at about 5:30 a.m. in his home town. Regardless, he rushed to his phone after the meeting to call his parents with the news.

"My dad answered the phone and you could tell he was just kind of waking up," Anderson said with a chuckle. "I have to call him again because I don't know if they really processed it. I'll call them in a little bit and see, but I'm sure they're ecstatic and proud. I can't wait until I talk to them again."

Anderson's parents assuredly would have heard it by afternoon whether it came from their son or not. The news spread fast after the video was made public via the football team's twitter account.

Anderson awoke early Thursday morning a reasonably-unknown walk-on running back who mainly worked with the Irish scout team. Thursday evening, Anderson was a national figure. The video clip was shown on ESPN's SportsCenter. FOX Sports One asked for permission to broadcast the clip. Nearly every major national sports news organization had posted it on their websites and tweeted about it. The NCAA itself made the video one of the top stories on its website.

Sometimes in life, you just never know what the day will bring when you get out of bed. The seemingly-innocuous morning of August 13 would prove to bring anything but triskaidekaphobic bad luck. Instead, it provided a moment that Anderson will cherish forever.

Regardless of whether or not he has to worry about tuition this year, he does still have to worry about football. On that front, Anderson's status as a scholarship player makes no impact whatsoever on his standing within the team and how he must execute his role.

"I'm just going to keep working hard and doing what I can," he said. "I'll give the defense the best look possible, if that's what they want from me. I'll do whatever they want me to do. With 150 or 200-percent of my effort. I will give everything I've got for Notre Dame football. Nothing's going to change."

HE WORE IT WELL

The uniform that Anderson wore when Kelly surprised him with the scholarship news was well-received from both his teammates and the public at large on social media.

Under Armour's second Shamrock Series uniform for Notre Dame features Kelly green uniforms and pants, reflecting the iconic green monster at Fenway Park. The Kelly green also represents the predominant ethnicity of Boston, a city filled with Irish Catholics. The jerseys even have "Irish" written across the chest and blue numbers with gold trim. The gloves, socks, base layers and cleats will also be predominantly Kelly green.

Infusing a nod to Notre Dame's proud football lore into the uniforms, the stripes on the helmet, shoulders, pant legs, under shirts and the palm of the gloves feature 11 breaks. The 11 breaks in the stripe are symbolic of the 11 consensus national championships won by the Irish.

The Shamrock Series helmet features the standard gold shell but with a few wrinkles. The head of Notre Dame's familiar Leprechaun logo adorns each side done in a reflective material similar to the shamrock decals on the 2013 Shamrock Series helmets. The helmet's center stripe and face mask are both split in half with the viewer's left side being blue and the right side green.

The game logo was also unveiled on Thursday, again with clear nods to Boston. The logo incorporates both the shapes of the Boston Red Sox's championship pennants and the familiar welcome signs that designate town lines on main streets and back roads across the commonwealth.

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-- written and compiled by Leigh Torbin, athletic communications assistant director, and Michael Bertsch, director of football media relations
 

 

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