Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Family First For Notre Dame OL Target Rocco Spindler

May 18, 2020
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Marc Spindler is a man of great passion and excitement.

“And that’s an understatement,” he says.

That made being a spectator at his daughters’ tennis matches…well, challenging, for the former NFL defensive lineman.

Spindler’s daughters, Gabriella and Isabella, played the sport at a high level throughout high school and college, and their father’s uneasiness was unmistakable.

“When they were winning, they were looking going, ‘He’s pissed off,’” Mr. Spindler says. “When they were losing, they were like, ‘Now, he’s even more pissed off.’

“I said, ‘Look, what am I supposed to do? I’m not allowed to yell. I’m not allowed to give you signals. I’m not allowed to cheer. I’m not allowed to do anything.’

“So, I used to put my hand over my mouth and just watch. I didn’t really have much emotion at all.”

Spindler’s wife, Rochelle, experienced the struggles as well.

“The tennis was the most challenging 10 years of our lives,” Mr. Spindler says. “That tennis s*** is for the birds, trust me. It took 10 years off our lives.”

The Spindler girls certainly inherited good genes.

Gabriella played tennis at West Point before embarking on a successful career as an Army officer. After becoming an assistant to the General, she was recently promoted to Captain.

Isabella graduated high school early and enrolled at Cleveland State, where she was named Horizon League Freshman of the Year in 2016. She was a three-time Horizon League First Team performer and is now pursuing her Masters degree as a graduate assistant at Carthage College.

Dominique took a different route.

“She’s a full-time model in Manhattan,” says Mr. Spindler. “Her career is walking runways and jet-setting and flying from coast to coast and over to Europe.

“They’re all 6-foot, 6-1 and they’re very athletic girls. They’re good lookers too. They take after their mother there.”

And then came the youngest, Rocco Spindler‍.

“You hope the gene pool passes on to him,” Mr. Spindler recalls. “I always said, ‘I hope they didn’t suck all of the size and athleticism.’”

It didn’t take long to realize Rocco got the size and by middle school, it was obvious he had the athleticism and then some.

“I remember specifically going to this one game up in Flint and he was playing defensive end,” says Mr. Spindler. “He made all kinds of plays on the defensive side of the ball. I remember him clotheslining and almost decapitating a guy. He was all over the place making tackles.

“I noticed that he had some size, some quick footwork. Then, you start to think that his sisters had pretty good genetics and his dad had some good genetics and if those pass on to him, he’d have a chance to be pretty decent…We decided we should put a little hustle behind that muscle and get him with the right trainers and people.”

Mr. Spindler kept a close eye on his son’s lifting, training and nutritional regimens, but stays “far enough away where I don’t intervene.”

“My wife is the driving force in that regard,” he adds. “My wife really runs the ship there. I’ve got to give her most of the credit there.

“Push him, but also understand he’s got to want to be able to do this himself and then Rochelle and myself being the fulcrum to provide the necessities to take it to the next level. Rochelle found the people, I’m there to answer some of the questions. We’re like Team Spindler.”

Spindler walked into Clarkston High School as a freshman and started varsity on offense and defense from day one.

“I didn’t do that,” his father says. “I was like, ‘Well, he’s bigger than I was, faster than I was, stronger than I was and started on both sides of the ball.’”

Spindler blossomed into one of the top offensive line prospects in the entire country, earning offers from schools like Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Oklahoma among dozens of others.

And there are no hands over Mr. Spindler’s mouth these days.

“When I go to football games now, I let that emotion out,” he says.

When he played, his father and grandfather made their presences known regardless of the venue.

“They could be in a 50-60,000-seat stadium, in an away stadium where you had no idea where they were sitting,” Mr. Spindler remembers. “My dad would whistle one time or my grandfather would whistle one time in this loud 65,000-seat stadium and I knew right where they were and found them instantly. I can still hear that whistle.”

Rocco can hear it too, only now it comes from his father.

“He comes out, I make sure I whistle, he turns around, sees me, gives me a head nod, but then it kind of escalates from there,” says Mr. Spindler, acknowledging he doesn’t have the same prohibitions that were once placed on him during tennis.

“I’m giving him hand signals and I’m telling him what he needs to be doing up in the stands. It becomes kind of a circus act and people in the stands are looking like, ‘What the hell is going on there?’

Each game, the Spindlers can be found seated in Row 23, which represents his late father’s football number.

“That’s the same s*** my dad did with me and the same s*** I swore I wouldn’t do with my kid, but here I am.

“At least I’m 23 rows up. He might be able to hear me, but he can also ignore me.”

 
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