Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 30 of 55 AUGUST 2021 31 next starting center at Notre Dame, in fact. Correll started in place of injured junior Jarrett Patterson against North Carolina and Alabama last season. Patterson is expected to move from center to guard as a senior, leaving snapping duties to Correll as a junior. Starting a Division I football game is a height Gabe Correll never reached. Or Caleb. Or Jesse and Josh. That's not to say that quartet wasn't an athletic one. They all achieved plenty in their athletic endeavors. Gabe played tight end at Kentucky. Caleb played baseball at King Univer- sity in Bristol, Tenn. Jesse started his college football career at Butler, but he transferred to Division II Malone University to team up with Josh. Jesse and Josh were finishing up at Malone right when Zeke's recruit- ment out of Cincinnati Anderson High School started to heat up. An- derson head coach Evan Dreyer won't ever forget the moment he shared with Steve when Zeke received his first scholarship offer from Ball State. "We were like, 'Wow, he could go to Ball State,'" Dreyer said. Zeke interrupted the moment rather brazenly. "He said, 'I want to go higher than Ball State,'" Dreyer said. "That's when he took off. His mindset changed." 'A SENSE OF DESTINY' The shift in mentality wasn't a drastic one. Perhaps it was just an ad- dition to how he was already wired. Remember, Zeke was basically born into a cutthroat lifestyle. "Whether it was playing checkers with my brothers or shooting hoops in the front yard, I'd be really be upset whenever I lost," Zeke said. "Having all four of my brothers play college sports really helped set my competitive edge." A little bit of help was all he needed, at most. After the Ball State offer rolled through, Zeke wanted more. Just 230 pounds at the time, he dedicated himself to transform- ing his body. That's what he figured would get him noticed by the big boys in college football. So he set a daily alarm for 3 a.m. and woke up to chug a protein shake. Then he'd wake up for good at 6 a.m. and down another before his morn- ing workout. He drank that one with his first of five peanut butter sand- wiches of the day. The post-workout shake, perhaps the one that matters most to fitness enthusiasts, didn't always stay in his system. But that was merely a sign he was doing things the right way. "There were times he'd work so hard the protein shake would come back up, if you know what I mean," Dreyer said. "People don't under- stand how hard he worked. The com- mitment he had was totally different than anybody I've ever been around." Different is just the way Zeke's parents would describe him, too. "The thing that Zeke had more than any of our sons or daughters was a great amount of confidence," Steve said. "All my sons were great athletes, but Zeke had something special that was distinct about him. There was a sense of destiny there." 'HE WON THE FIGHT' That sense of destiny struck Dreyer during Zeke's senior season. Anderson was up against Cincinnati Walnut Hills and future Virginia de- fensive tackle Jowon Briggs, the No. 4 defensive tackle in the country in the class of 2019 according to Rivals. That was Zeke's matchup most of the game. "It was a battle of who was going to survive a 10-round boxing match every time they went up against each other," Dreyer said, "and Zeke out- lasted him. He pancake-blocked him I don't remember how many times that night. Too many to count. He won the fight." It's funny the way the world works. If Correll is still starting at center for Notre Dame five weeks into the 2021 season, Briggs will get his chance to even the score. He transferred to Cin- cinnati and is expected to be a key contributor on the defensive line. The Irish host the Bearcats on Oct. 2. Correll will be up for the rematch. He's never met a challenge he hasn't welcomed. Again, that was evident his senior year of high school. An- derson lost in week nine. It needed to win in week 10 to make the playoffs. It did, thanks to the 300 rushing yards Zeke largely paved the way for. "That memory of just being com- petitive for four to six seconds, every play as fast as he could, and just be- ing tougher than everyone and out- lasting them for three straight weeks during our playoff run was amaz- ing to me," Dreyer said. "He wanted the ball ran behind him constantly to make sure our team won. "I love that about him. He wasn't afraid to tell me that. You don't see many offensive linemen demanding that." 'HE'S READY FOR IT' Steve and Lisa are jaded to an extent. Don't get them wrong, they're still on the edge of their seats every time Zeke runs onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium or anywhere else. Lisa joked she has to hold her breath for the first series, then she can calm down for ev- ery one thereafter. Steve looks around a few extra times to take it all in. "I have to pinch myself sometimes," Steve said. "It's like, 'Wow. My son is playing at Notre Dame Stadium.' It's such an honor and a privilege." The jadedness stems from always en- visioning Zeke playing football some- where as prestigious as Notre Dame Stadium, and it's not shocking to them in the slightest that it's happening. Like Gabe, Steve played at Ken- tucky in the 1970s. His father, Ray, lettered under coach Bear Bryant at UK from 1951-53. High-level college football has always been in the Cor- rells' blood. Zeke is an extension of that. "I had guys to look up to growing up who helped me understand what it's like to be a college athlete," Zeke said. "I understood that you have to have a competitive edge to succeed, no matter what level it is. Having those role models in my life definitely helped me be more competitive and got me to where I am today." In typical Zeke fashion, just being at Notre Dame isn't enough. This offseason has been spent making sure he comes through for Irish head coach Brian Kelly and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn. That's the duo that presented Zeke the opportunity to start at center, and it's the one that could take it away if Zeke does not perform up to expectations. Dreyer, Steve and Lisa aren't worried that'll happen. Neither is Zeke. He is, after all, the most confident Correll of the nine — by his father's own admis- sion. To anyone who knows him, this is just the beginning for Zeke Correll. "He's worked hard for this," Steve said. "He's earned it. We all know he's ready for it." ✦ "Having all four of my brothers play college sports really helped set my competitive edge." CORRELL

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - August 2021