Former walk-on RB Mick Assaf chooses business over final Notre Dame football season

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Former walk-on running back Mick Assaf is walking away from Notre Dame football.

Assaf, who was set to be a fifth-year player for the Irish, announced Friday on Twitter that he will stop playing football to pursue his business career.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Assaf played in 14 games as a member of the Irish the last four seasons. At the end of last season, head coach Brian Kelly awarded Assaf a scholarship for the 2019-20 school year.

Assaf was a deep reserve player in the running back rotation last season but also made contributions on special teams. He recorded nine carries for 34 yards and was named the program’s WOPU (Walk-On Players Union) Player of the Year.

Assaf, who graduated cum laude from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in January, told the Tribune he will no longer be a student at Notre Dame.

“Thank you to Notre Dame for allowing me to experience the pinnacle of what it means to be a student-athlete,” Assaf said in part of his Twitter statement. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to achieve my childhood dream of playing football at the highest level while also setting me up for the challenge that lies ahead with @yokegaming.”

Assaf launched his YOKE platform early in 2020. In its original form, the web site allowed users to bid for live video chats with celebrities. In recent months, the platform transformed into an app that allows fans to pay to play video games with athletes.

Assaf founded the business with the help of former Notre Dame tight end Nic Weisher and childhood friend Bailey O’Sullivan.

Without Assaf, Notre Dame still has six scholarship running backs on its roster for 2020: grad transfer Trevor Speights, senior Jafar Armstrong, juniors Jahmir Smith and C’Bo Flemister, sophomore Kyren Williams and freshman Chris Tyree. Smith, Flemister, Armstrong and Williams combined for 140 carries, 490 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns last season.

Departed running back Tony Jones Jr. led the Irish with 144 carries for 857 yards and six touchdowns. Jones signed with the New Orleans Saints in April as an undrafted free agent.

Former walk-on running back Mick Assaf played his last game for Notre Dame football in the Camping World Bowl last December in Orlando, Fla.