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Notre Dame Football

#WOPU Outtakes | Matt Salerno's Relationship With Thom Gatewood & More

September 9, 2020

After he was accepted to Notre Dame and offered a position to join the program as a walk-on, Matt and his mother made a visit to South Bend for the Blue-Gold Game that April.

At a dinner function the night before, they were seated with Ian Book and his family along with Thom Gatewood.

At one point, Book’s father leaned over to Whitney and told her, “You may want to have your son meet this gentleman here, he’s kind of a big deal.”

So, Whitney and Matt struck up a conversation with Gatewood and the former Irish star receiver and College Football Hall of Famer couldn’t have been more genuine.

He offered Matt plenty of advice, but mostly to stick with it. Gatewood told him there would be days he’d want to leave and days he’d want to quit, but to keep going.

Fast-forward one year with Whitney and Mike on campus for the Blue-Gold Game, this time with Matt playing, and they spotted Gatewood again. Whitney encouraged Matt to re-introduce himself, which he did and Gatewood remembered their chat from a year earlier. Not only that, he implored Matt to get his contact information and they’ve since formed “a special relationship.”

“Matt has been over their house for dinner,” his father explaisn. “They call him, they check on him. We went out to the ‘SC game, they had us over to their house. They’re a neat family, neat people.

“During the whole COVID thing, they said, ‘If Matt ever needs anything, he’s welcome to come here.’”

KICKING AROUND: Matt Salerno also “moonlights” as a kicker and briefly served as the Irish’s emergency kicker last fall.

His younger brother Christopher is looking at following in the footsteps of his brothers’ and pursuing a spot as a walk-on at an FBS program. A 2021 prospect, like his brothers, he’s a three-sport athlete who is off the charts academically.

He’s a kicker who has had some preliminary contact with the Irish and it’s pretty clear, like Matt, Notre Dame would be his top option.

“I think if he gets into Notre Dame, that’s where he’d like to go and have the opportunity to play football,” his father says. “He’ll keep his options open regarding football with some other schools, but at this point, that would be his first choice.”

And like Matt, even if he isn’t granted an opportunity as a preferred walk-on, Notre Dame would still be his first choice of colleges.

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