How former Notre Dame walk-on Davis Sherwood earned a scholarship

Justin Frommer
South Bend Tribune
Notre Dame running back Davis Sherwood (38) runs the ball during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football game on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

SOUTH BEND — There was confusion Wednesday about what position Notre Dame sophomore Davis Sherwood actually plays.

Sherwood spoke with media members as part of preseason football camp's designated tight end day, just as he is listed on the Irish roster. But when he arrived to the second floor of the Irish Athletic Center, his name plate proclaimed fullback.

Sherwood couldn't care less about that sort of thing.

"I let people call me whatever they want," Sherwood said. "I just like to play football. I like to go out there and block, run routes, catch balls, anything. Whatever you want to call me, that is cool with me."

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Sherwood came to Notre Dame to do just that as a walk-on recruit. Going forward, however, he will play as one of Notre Dame's 85 scholarship players after it was announced by the program Sherwood would take over senior Avery Davis' scholarship spot following the wideout's career-ending knee injury this month.

"(The coaches) brought me in and told me," Sherwood said of his big moment. "It wasn’t anything too special or anything you see on TV. It could have been whatever, a meeting. I didn't know what I was going in to talk about ... A tiny fluff, but pretty much to the point."

The point being, Sherwood could have a role in Notre Dame's offense as a tight end, a fullback, a half back or any other gadget spot.

At 6-foot-3, 228 pounds, Sherwood came to Notre Dame as a linebacker. Last season, he was a staple for the Irish on special teams playing in 12 of the team's 13 games as part of kickoff, kick return, punt and punt return teams.

This winter, a couple of weeks before spring ball, Notre Dame's coaching staff moved Sherwood to offense with the tight ends.

"It was a little shocking at first," Sherwood said. "A little bump to get over when I first started playing, but after that first week, second week it really started to slow down. Spring ball really helped, too, having practice every other day, so those off days I could really look at what I was doing, get those meetings in and try to get a plan for what to do the next day."

Notre Dame’s Davis Sherwood (38) works against Stanford's Jay Symonds (24) during the Notre Dame vs. Stanford NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.

Major change has been something Sherwood has embraced throughout his football career.

He attended three different high schools in four football seasons, beginning at Woodberry Forrest High School in Virginia, before accepting a full ride scholarship at The Peddie School in New Jersey, then transferring again when Peddie's football program folded to Our lady of Good Counsel High School in Maryland.

With his position change this spring, Sherwood approached it the same way.

"When they told me, I was like, 'yes sir.' I'm sure I did have a little bit of a choice, but I was happy to do it and I'm not afraid of change," Sherwood said. "Mentally I love the game, nothing really scares me. I'm going to go out there and if I get beat, I get beat. That jump didn't hurt me in that sense. I love to hit people, so that definitely helps."

Sherwood said the blocking aspect of offense was the easier transition. Instead of locking people out as he did at linebacker, he had to grab them in. Pass catching was more foreign. Working with first-year Notre Dame tight ends coach Gerad Parker, a former wide receiver at Kentucky, helped ease Sherwood into the position.

"Coach Parker has been awesome," Sherwood said. "Obviously I didn't know coach McNulty (now the offensive coordinator at Boston College), but coach Parker has been really good with me. I know the offense now and I know all the things I need to be doing, all the technique and just every day get a lot better. Just contributor any way that I can."

That was the mindset Sherwood had when he came to Notre Dame. Around the winter of his senior season, Sherwood said he didn't have a lot of interest coming from Power Five programs, who wanted him to send more film. Instead, Sherwood gave his high school coach a list of programs he would consider taking a walk-on spot at, Notre Dame being one of them. He decided shortly after taking a visit to commit to the Irish, announced on his Twitter on Mar. 17, 2021, and has since been on a mission to prove those doubters wrong.

"...It wasn't hard for me to get in academically and I was just another guy they thought could come out here and compete," Sherwood said.

Notre Dame running back Davis Sherwood (38) during a Notre Dame spring football practice on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in South Bend.

Two years later, Sherwood finds himself working in the same tight end room as one of college football's best in Michael Mayer and blocking one of the top lineman in Isaiah Foskey. He's still finding ways to get himself on the field for the Irish, however they decide to use him.

"Knowing they believe enough in me to create a role for me, whatever that will be, means a lot to me," Sherwood said. "Coach Rees and coach Parker showed a lot of belief. It is easy to prove people wrong that didn't offer me out of high school when I felt like I should have gone to a Power Five school. Instead, I focus on proving (Rees and Parker) right ... to the best of my ability."