In less than seven minutes, Mick Assaf name-dropped Jesus Christ, Notre Dame President the Rev. John I. Jenkins and Young Thug.
The walk-on running back plays a rather inconspicuous role for the Irish. Assaf, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior played in all 12 games for Notre Dame this season mostly on special teams. As a deep reserve running back, Assaf recorded nine carries for 34 yards.
But put him in front of a camera, and the eclectic Assaf can’t help but show his personality. Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Media team showcased Assaf’s sarcasm and dry humor by having him host an interview show on YouTube called “MicksTape.”
The 13th episode of the season came before Notre Dame’s regular season finale at Stanford. It featured Jenkins and the Rev. Peter McCormick, Notre Dame’s director of campus ministry. Naturally, reporters wanted to know how Assaf booked Jenkins for the show.
“I see him in the locker room after the game,” Assaf recounted. “I was like, ‘Have you ever heard of MicksTape?’ He was like, ‘Nope.’ I was like, ‘You’re kidding.’ And then I explained what it was, got in contact with his office and he didn’t hesitate. He accepted right away.”
Like every other MicksTape, the interview included no preparation. He didn’t feed Jenkins or McCormick questions ahead of time.
“MicksTape rules are no preparation, no script,” Assaf said. “I can’t know what the questions are going to be and they can’t know. Just on the spot, we’ll be like ‘All right, we’re going to talk about this,’ and then we go. Father John was an obvious topic: football and faith.”
Jenkins answered questions about which school Jesus would choose if he were a high school football recruit, who should be the patron saint of American football and if he’d beat McCormick in an Oklahoma drill.
McCormick shared his Mount Rushmore of saints and popes and said Jesus would be a tight end if he played football. Assaf quickly agreed by saying Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet is the closest thing he’s seen to Jesus.
“I didn’t see Jesus. Never have,” Assaf told reporters. “But if Jesus and Cole Kmet were the same person, I wouldn’t be shocked. Cole’s a great guy.”
But Assaf isn’t positive if Jesus would play tight end. He suggested long snapper as a potential position too.
“Long snapper’s a dynamic role, a thankless job,” Assaf said. “Jesus would really excel in that role.”
Assaf’s interest in video has already influenced his potential career after college. In the coming weeks, Assaf plans to launch a business called Yoke. As Assaf explains it, Yoke will be a platform that allows customers to pay for live video chats with celebrities on FaceTime.
While Assaf was putting together a business plan, he settled on the idea of live video chats when Assaf spoke with rapper Young Thug via FaceTime. Assaf connected with Young Thug through relationships Assaf created in previous entrepreneurial adventures in Atlanta. Since his days at Atlanta’s Pace Academy, Assaf has been interested in starting his own business.
Now after four seasons with the Irish, Assaf might have some natural clients for Yoke including friend and teammate Ian Book.
“One day hopefully when Ian’s a famous quarterback, someone will be able to pay 20 bucks to FaceTime with him for a few minutes,” Assaf said.
Book and Assaf, now roommates, have been close friends since their freshman year. Book recently posted an Instagram photo of the two of them posing after Notre Dame’s Echoes awards show. Book won Offensive Player of the Year. Assaf won WOPU (Walk-On Players Union) Player of the Year.
Assaf joked that he became friends with Book as a freshman because the 6-0 Book looked like a walk-on.
“I was drawn to him, because we’re all in that 6-1 to 5-10 sweet spot where you walk around campus and people aren’t sure if you’re a walk-on or not,” Assaf joked. “Ian quickly revealed — I guess not that quickly — but eventually revealed that he wasn’t a walk-on. I revealed that I was, but we remained close friends through it all.”
Assaf is the messy roommate. Book is more of a neat freak. That tends to wind up with Book a little angry with him at times, Assaf said.
But watching Book lead Notre Dame’s offense with confidence is never a surprise to Assaf.
“Outside of a few settings, you’ll never see him lose his confidence,” Assaf said. “You can pretty much say or do anything you want — whether you’re playing ping pong or whatever. He won’t get flustered, and I’m really good at flustering people. But Ian’s a tough one to crack.”
Book broke through a rough stretch of the season with a game-winning touchdown to beat Virginia Tech. The Irish haven’t lost since and carry a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s Camping World Bowl (noon EST on ABC) against Iowa State (7-5).
Assaf has confidence that Book can lead the Irish to another victory. The Irish don’t need Jesus at quarterback.
“He’s going to do everything he can to put us in a position to win,” Assaf said of Book. “That’s pretty much what he’s done ever since he stepped into that role.”