Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2022*

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM NOV. 26, 2022 17 linebacker Rashan Gary of Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High School. He flung his arms in the air when Sot connected on a state- record 57-yard field goal. Those were substantial successes, but they weren't anything close to as significant as it was for Ransone to sit through the eulogy. He called it the most admirable affair he's ever seen. Sot's relationship with Ransone has transitioned from one of a player-coach connection to an undying friendship. Ransone has had a front-row seat for Sot's maturation from the 18-year-old who lost his 20-year-old brother to the 22-year-old starting punter at the Uni- versity of Notre Dame who has become a beacon of merriment enveloped by otherwise melancholic circumstances. "You could easily build up resent- ment. You could build up anger and allow it to send you in the other direc- tion," Ransone told Blue & Gold Illus- trated. "Jon did the total opposite. It was such an unbelievable display of character, strength and resilience with how he handled that situation. "The worst situation in his life he could ever go through, he took that and t u r n e d i t i n t o strength. Watch- ing an 18-year-old at the time do that, I get emotional just talking about it." So does Sot's dad, Michael. It's a father's natural instinct. Jon graduated from Harvard and turned a four-year career there into a one-year opportunity to walk-on at Notre Dame. He's earning a master's in science and management. Michael's daughter, Jessica, is a senior in high school. She's off to college next fall. His other son, Matt, plays base- ball at Arcadia University in Philadel- phia. Michael's stepson, Frankie, is an eighth-grader destined for the halls of high school next year. The second oldest behind the late Mi- chael, Jon was the one who had to set an example and make a choice on how the Sot siblings would live from Dec. 4, 2018, and beyond. The decision he made is one of coura- geous fortitude. "He could have easily said enough with this, I'm depressed," Michael Sot told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "I'm not finishing school. I'm going to stay home. He chose to take the other path. He's go- ing to do something for his brother now. He has a mission. He has a goal. He's go- ing to make his brother proud." PUSHING THROUGH November 19 would have been Mi- chael Thomas Sot's 24th birthday. Jon Sot spent it listening to "Me And My Brother" and reading from his treasured memento. Don't think of me as gone … My journey's just begun, There are many paths in life, This earth is just but one Think of me as living in the hearts of those I touched, For nothing loved is ever lost And I know I was loved so much Above those words on the card is a picture of Michael Thomas Sot, smil- ing. Sot sees it every time just before he runs out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium. He has grown to a point in which he felt comfortable enough to say Nov. 19 wasn't going to just be a commemora- tion of the last home game of his college career. It was going to be a celebration of his brother's special day, too. Michael Sot called his boys "Irish twins" for how close they are in age. They did everything together. Michael was the pitcher. Jon was the catcher. They were both running backs, shar- ing the backfield together just as they shared slices of pizza, trading cards and everything else young boys grow up on. "He not only was my brother," Sot said. "He was my best friend." Now Sot has a good one in Ransone, who called Sot the best football player he's ever been around in a coaching capacity. Ransone was an assistant for former Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick's high school team at Somer- ville (N.J.) Immaculata. He was former Notre Dame nose guard Hafis Williams' defensive line coach at Elizabeth (N.J.) High. He's seen great players. Sot stands out above all. For Ransone, it was the "ice in his veins" and the diligent dedication to preparation that set Sot apart. Sot fre- quently went to away venues in his free time to scout kicking conditions. He'd report back to Ransone with notes on what he liked about the field and what he didn't. "Everything about Jon screams, 'This kid is going to be successful,'" Ransone said. Ransone was always adamant Sot would kick in the NFL someday. Maybe he will. There is still time. Sot is the right-hand man of Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Mason, who is a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the best assistant coach in college football. It's not easy to form a personal link with Mason. He's all business, one of the most intense figures on the Irish staff. Sot managed to squeeze him- self into that inner circle. It has hap- pened everywhere, from Saint Joseph to Harvard to Notre Dame. "He is the gold star for what you're l o o k i n g fo r i n a football player at any program," Ran- sone said. That doesn't happen overnight. And it certainly doesn't happen without keeping your head up after the loss of a loved one. "He's a tough kid, man," Michael Sot said of his son. "He's resilient. He's one of a kind, I'll tell you. He's been through so much, and he handles it so well." Sot is writing his own story. He's re- sponsible for where he is. But several chapters of the book of his life belong to his brother, the one who's always there by way of the words of 5IVE and a glossy pocket card he won't ever part ways with. "Sometimes I look back like, 'How am I here right now?" Sot said. "It doesn't feel like I should be here with some of the things that have happened. But I always push through it." ✦ "Everything I've done since Michael's passing, I dedicate to him and I do for him. It gives me purpose. Sometimes when I hit an amazing punt, I feel like my brother is up there helping me do that stuff. I feel like I couldn't be doing that without him." SOT

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