Notre Dame's Joe Schmidt won't chase NFL career

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

There will be no sequel in which Joe Schmidt transcends the modest limits and expectations so many had projected for him.

At least not on the football field.

Notre Dame’s starting middle linebacker for the past two seasons said on Wednesday that Notre Dame’s 44-28 loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1 in Glendale, Ariz., will end up being the last time he’ll play the game he loves.

While 10 of his former Irish teammates head to Indianapolis next week for the invitation-only NFL Scouting Combine to help enhance their draftability and define their pro football futures, Schmidt opted against working out on his own and trying to find a back door into a pro training camp.

So if he attends ND’s March 31 Pro Day workout for scouts and NFL player-personnel types, he’ll do so as a cheerleader of sorts.

“As soon as the season was over I sat down and thought about whether I wanted to continue playing football and pursue that avenue,” Schmidt said Wednesday on WSBT’s Weekday SportsBeat radio show, “but, really, I never had a dream of playing in the NFL, as a kid.

“Really, I didn’t think about the NFL. As a college student, for the most part, it was always about trying to win a national title here and to do everything I could to help this team get better. So for me, I really didn’t want to pursue that at all, and I’m not going to.”

Schmidt started all 13 games for the Irish in 2015, and was the team’s second-leading tackler (78) behind only projected first-round draft choice and fellow linebacker Jaylon Smith. The best game of his career was his last — a 13-tackle performance against the Buckeyes.

The former walk-on was voted the team’s MVP in 2014, despite playing in only 7½ of the team’s 13 games. That season was truncated when Schmidt suffered a broken fibula against Navy.

After the season ended, Schmidt took an internship in Notre Dame’s investment office. The graduate with a degree in management-entrepreneurship is also taking a finance class this semester and co-hosting the Jack Swarbrick weekly radio show as he ponders his next step.

“I’m actually very happy with that decision (not to continue with football), and I’m looking forward to pursuing other avenues as well,” he said. “I’m kind of just exploring right now, taking some trips and meeting some people and trying to figure out where I want to start my career.”


Twitter: @EHansenNDI

Notre Dame's Joe Schmidt (38) said Wednesday he will not pursue an NFL career. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)