Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 59 of 63

60 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WHERE HAVE YOU GONE? One-time elite recruit is now coaching premier prospects at IMG Academy BY LOU SOMOGYI C hances are there will never be a younger Notre Dame football player to grace the cover of Sports Il- lustrated than Maurice Stovall. The Sept. 30, 2002, issue featured the freshman Stovall — who turned only 17 the previous February — snagging a 15-yard touchdown pass in the win at Michigan State and it highlighted the "return to glory" theme under first-year head coach Tyrone Willingham during a surpris- ing 8-0 start after a 5-6 record the year prior. The week before the cover shot, the freshman sensation Stovall — who had been a USA Today first-team All-America selection — grabbed a 41-yard pass on the second play of the game from quarterback Carlyle Holiday to set up a touchdown in the 25-23 victory versus Michigan. The dramatic start to Stovall's career had him repeating a mantra he learned from his parents: "Talent is God-given: Be humble. "Fame is man-given: Be thankful. "Conceit is self-given: Be careful." It took several days before Stovall even was aware about the SI cover, and that came by accident. "My personality always has been about staying humble," Stovall re- called. "I was sitting in the locker room after a practice and it was [receiver] Ronnie Rodamer who dropped the cover on my lap, and my jaw dropped. "I actually felt more embarrassed about it because there were so many older guys on the team who helped make it possible." The 6-5 Stovall was the break- through recruit at Notre Dame that would usher in a more pass-oriented attack at the school this century. Two-time All-American Jeff Sa- mardzija was added the next sea- son, future Biletnikoff Award winner Golden Tate in 2007, then first-round selections Michael Floyd (2008) and Will Fuller (2013) … all the way up to the plethora of rangy wideouts, led by 6-5 Equanimeous St. Brown, on the current Notre Dame roster. Stovall's freshman season, a 10-3 campaign, ended with his 18 catches averaging 17.3 yards, with three touchdowns. Above all, there was a feeling of peace that he had made the right selection of where to attend col- lege. Virginia and Michigan also had been in his top three. Again, parents Maurice Sr. and Cynthia provided a guiding light. "They said, 'Maurice, here's what you need to look for when you're looking at schools: Don't get caught up with how cute the girls are, how nice the uniforms look, and don't get caught up with how many people are in the stadium,'" Stovall recalled. "'You need to worry about having an opportunity to play as a fresh- man, but you should look at the aca- demic support first. And above all, if you were to break your neck the first day of football as a freshman, where would you want to earn your degree from the most?' "That's what got me, and then it was almost like a spiritual experi- ence stepping on to the campus. A lot of schools can offer you a nice edu- cation and a nice football program — that's why they compete against one another — and the resources and facilities are great pretty much every- where. "But how does it make me feel when I step on campus? I just felt like I belonged. It was almost like a vocation." SENIOR SURGE Despite the auspicious start in the first month of his college football ca- reer, Stovall's next two campaigns yielded huge disappointment on the field with 5-7 and 6-6 records as a team, his share of nagging injuries, plus a gnawing feeling of under- achievement. Through three seasons, Stovall After Stovall hauled in 61 passes for 1,046 yards and seven scores in his first three years on campus, he exploded for 69 receptions, 1,149 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior campaign. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS Maurice Stovall, 2002-05 Wide Receiver

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - May 2017 Issue