In his own words: The wit and wisdom of Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman

Mike Berardino
ND Insider
Injured Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman watches teammates warm up for an NCAA college football game against VMI in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

SOUTH BEND — In Sam Hartman, Notre Dame isn’t just adding a record-setting quarterback who is already older than several current NFL starters, including playoff sensations Trevor Lawrence and Brock Purdy.

Hartman, the ballyhooed transfer from Wake Forest, also knows how to deliver a winning quote.

While Notre Dame has yet to make Hartman available for interviews, his philosophies on football and life are readily available through the magic of YouTube. At 23, Hartman is already a seasoned NIL spokesman for the likes of Bojangles chicken and biscuits (“It’s always Bo time”), Mizzen + Main menswear (#StayComfortable) and Wahl Grooming.  

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Last July at the ACC Football Kickoff in Hartman’s hometown of Charlotte, N.C., he turned a question about his choice of headwear into a chance to discuss his affinity for the British crime drama “Peaky Blinders” and Tommy Shelby, the unflappable gangster played by Irish-born actor Cillian Murphy, a Dublin resident.

“Big ‘Peaky Blinders’ fan,” Hartman said. “It’s a Peaky cap, not a fedora. Tommy Shelby. I like the show and I like his attitude and his mentality.”

Here’s a sampling of Hartman’s many insightful quotes across his five-year run in Winston-Salem:

On his quarterback role models

“Growing up, Will Grier. If you’re a Charlotte guy, you kind of know the legend of him in high school. I went to his high school (Davidson Day School), so watching his highlights, the crazy stuff that he used to do on the field when he was in college (at Florida and West Virginia), I looked up to him. We have a great relationship now. He helps a lot with different decisions on and off the field. And then Aaron Rodgers, I feel like, is a classic answer. The guy just plays and doesn’t really care what people think and he says stuff in the media that might be controversial.” (July 20, 2022)

Davidson Day's Sam Hartman (10) passes against North Carolina during the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at Wofford's Gibbs Stadium.

On playing with emotion

“I think I’ve toned it down a little bit. Maybe freshman year (2018) I had a little bit more fire, a little more trash talk. I’ve learned if you ‘trash talk’ people, they hit you harder. So I’ve shied away from that. I’m more likely to make cordial conversation. You have many good conversations with guys out there. You can see it: the intensity and the passion. I love the game. I love playing it. I really enjoy it. That’s another part of this game is you can have fun doing it while also being successful. I like pushing our guys to be great and go good to great and go good to greater or greatest.” (July 20, 2022)

On Aug. 9 surgery to address Paget-Schroetter syndrome, a blood-clotting condition also known as “effort thrombosis”

“It was a long, hard road. Different medical conditions arose that have now subsided and I’m completely recovered from. I think it was more mentally taxing than anything. Physically, it was here and there. You’re poised for a big year and … all you’re thinking about is just staying healthy and grinding through and just making it through camp and then something out of the blue comes up and sidelines you for whatever reason it was. Everyone in the program handled it well. My teammates and such were incredibly gracious to keep everything that I wanted private. It’s a blessing to be back. It wouldn’t really be my career without having something like that happen right before the season. That was what my mom (Lisa) and I always joked about, sitting in the hospital room: It only makes sense for this to happen going into my last year here. It would’ve been nice to not have to go through that.” (Nov. 15, 2022)

On the unknown of the offseason

“You never know what you have until you take that first rep or that first practice or that first scrimmage. It’s just that excitement of all the work you put in with your guys and you get to see where you’re at and what you need to work on. Frankly, you never know. You don’t know if you have a leak until you put the boat in the water.” (July 29, 2022)

On keeping his receivers happy

“You get a lot of rooms where you have a premier guy that is almost jealous of any other receiver getting the attention, getting the touches. But across the board guys want to be the guy and they want the ball to come their way. You’ll have a game where the ball doesn’t come your way all the time, but they’re still right there with you celebrating. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things.” (July 29, 2022)

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman (10) rolls out of the pocket looking for an open receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Louisville in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

On having a deep receiver group

“It’s honestly an honor. It puts the pressure on me to show up because obviously they can’t do anything they want to do if the ball’s not getting to them on time and hitting them in stride and all that. It’s more just, I guess, a pressure and, I guess, a cool pressure because you know those guys are special and you know if you can get them the ball, they’re going to make you look good as well. I guess you’d call it a give-and-take reality there.” (March 17, 2021)

On the dangers of complacency

“Complacency is always (a concern). You can find that anywhere in any successful place when you taste success. I would just speak for myself. Doing wrong would just be doing too much. Trying to chase the big play or the highlight-reel play, you can get caught up in that. Or get caught in just trying to win the game by yourself. For myself and the guys around me, it’s just doing their job. If we do our job day in and day out, we’ll have success.” (July 29, 2022)

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On motivation

“You’ve got to love football. You don’t get to play football a lot in a year. When you really break it down, you don’t get many live reps. I just love football, so I’m excited to play football again.” (July 29, 2022)

On throwing four interceptions in Duke’s Mayo Bowl loss to Wisconsin

“You lose a game for a team, it weighs on you for a while. ‘Man in the Arena.’ You put yourself in that position. You succeed, you fail, no matter what, at least you went out there and tried. It’s still part of the game. Quarterbacks before me have done the same thing. It’s all about that next game, the next throw, the next play.” (March 17, 2021)

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman tries to stop Badgers safety Collin Wilder after his interception in the second half Wednesday.

On processing disappointment

“You soak in those moments, use them as something to remember them celebrating. You just want to see it, just feel that feeling you know you don’t want to feel again so it gives you something to work for — if you’re into that or whatever.” (March 17, 2021)

On being haunted by the Wisconsin loss

“Every night. Just who I am, just how it works. Trying to work on it, but every night. … The idea of those one or two plays affecting me for however long it’s been is one of the things I’ve been trying to dive into — that psychological effect of trying to work on that next-play mentality and reading books and different outlets that we have here, just trying to improve that aspect of it.” (March 17, 2021)

On his growth as a leader

“Working on my core values of what do I find important. As I get older, if I’ve been doing this for a while, what can I improve on? Not just physically and in the film room but what can I, as just a man, what can I get better at? Building friendships with younger guys that are just coming in, working on relationship with coaches. It’s obviously different things as you get older. You can take a step back. It’s not always just X’s and O’s and pushing weight around. It’s how am I going to talk to Donnie today? Or what kind of interaction am I going to have with the midyear freshmen? ‘How am I doing that?’ is another big step I’m trying to take.” (March 17, 2021)

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman (10) is sacked by North Carolina defensive lineman Kaimon Rucker during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

On his personal growth through adversity

“I think I’m more level-headed. A tendency when you’re young is you feel like you have to prove that you’re a leader and prove that you can step up in different situations and different circumstances and you have to be the vocal guy and you have to be the guy that’s yelling and screaming and getting fired up and getting in people’s faces. I think there’s always a time and a place for that. In my position it’s a little hard. You have to really play a balancing act of being a vocal guy but also being a guy that people can come to and people can trust and rely in any situation, circumstance. … I think therapy’s helped with that a lot. Everybody’s got their demons and everybody’s got their different ways that they react and are prone to the reaction that they are giving because of the circumstances either they grew up in or different coaches they’ve had, parents, background, whatnot. And I think that’s been huge is just learning to be less reactive toward different situations and just sit back and assess. On a game day, being the same guy if we’re up by 20 or down by 20, just trying to stay as cool and calm when the ship is sinking.” (Nov. 15, 2022)

On his high-calorie diet

“It’s going to hit me one day. I’m going to get fat, but right now it’s 5,000-6,000 (calorie) days. Morning breakfast is not fun to eat. Definitely some gags here and there. I can’t eat eggs anymore … I cook four eggs and I put the cooked eggs in the blender and it’s like a serving size of Greek yogurt, a serving size of peanut butter and then I got some creatine and collagen to put in there. It’s a powder, and then I put in Fruit Punch Gatorade and you mix it up and it’s actually not that bad. The only thing that’s gross is it’s warm. I don’t put ice in there because I want to be able to chug it. It tastes like strawberry peanut butter, but it’s just warm. People don’t like that, I guess.”

On the idea of a Sam Hartman cookbook

“Hey, I might have to throw one out. It’s grilled chicken and noodles and whatever you want to call that smoothie delight or something — Strawberry Fruit Punch Smoothie Peanut Butter Delight.” (March 17, 2021)

Dec 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks on from the sidelines against the Missouri Tigers in the first quarter in the 2022 Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On the decision to play bearded or clean-shaven

“I usually just text my mom and ask her what she thinks, and she usually gives me the thumbs-up/thumbs-down.  We went beard this year.” (July 20, 2022)

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On leaving Wake Forest after five seasons

“I think people are just sick and tired of me, I’ll be totally honest. I think media included. I think (you’re) ready to talk to somebody new and get some new phrases. Wash out my ‘one-week seasons’ and definitely cliched answers. I want to test my luck and see what happens. I think I have an opportunity to do it.” (Nov. 15, 2022)

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.