Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 18, 2021

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

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Page 16 of 55 SEPT. 18, 2021 17 — some of whom he will face Sept. 18. Kiser played seven-on-seven with David Bell, Purdue's All-Big Ten wide receiver, for an Indianapolis-based pro- gram. They sometimes played safety next to each other. Now, the former might find himself tackling the latter. Kiser became friends with Boilermak- ers' All-America defensive end George Karlaftis, a West Lafayette, Ind., native, through their high school track and field careers. Twice per week, Purdue opened its fieldhouse to high school track and field athletes. Kiser would drive there to prac- tice the shot put and frequently bumped into Karlaftis, a fellow shot-putter. "George and David were wanting Jack to join them," Aaron said. "You know how recruits get close." It was hard to say no. But when he did, there were zero hard feelings. No matter which school he picked, Kiser would be a Royal Center icon whose football tal- ents captivated the town and remain a role model. He led Pioneer High School to con- secutive Indiana Class A state champion- ships and was the The Indianapolis Star Mr. Football winner as a senior. He was the first Pioneer player to accept a football scholarship to a Power Five school. The turnout from family and friends when the Irish and Boilermakers meet will be strong. They are coming to watch their favorite team face their local hero (and for some, their relative). Aaron bought 35 tickets to resell to friends and family. He has heard from others who found tickets themselves. All told, he estimates the Kiser-affiliated crowd at the game will be 85 to 100 people. Most will be donning gold and black, rooting for Kiser to play well but Purdue to win. But not Aaron, who will wear Notre Dame gear as he normally does at Jack's games. Blood is thicker than water, after all. "I never felt like he should auto- matically go to Purdue," Aaron said. "It needed to be his decision. It needed to be the right fit for him. We're really happy with where he decided to go." ✦ Purdue was one of the first schools to offer Kiser (24), who has numerous family ties to the Boilermakers, but he always had his eyes on Notre Dame. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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