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Notre Dame Football

Selfless Kristofic helps steady Notre Dame offensive line

October 30, 2021

The block, all these years later, still is one Eric Kasperowicz remembers from his quarterback-turned-offensive-lineman.

Yeah, that's the kind of athleticism that Andrew Kristofic possesses as he mans the left guard position for No. 11 Notre Dame as it hosts North Carolina tonight inside Notre Dame Stadium (7:30, NBC).

Check the whistle. Listen for its faintest reverberations. Then find Kristofic.

“There was a game where him and his teammate, they were guard and tackle, and we're winning the game by a couple touchdowns,” Kasperowicz tells Irish Sports Daily, “and we throw a screen pass, it's going all the way and we're scoring from like 60 yards out. We're excited to go up another touchdown right before the half.

“Then I look back and see a flag down. And there are two guys laying on a defender out on the track. Basically what happened, there was nothing dirty, but they drove the defender so far out of bounds, they stumbled onto the track and landed on him. There was nothing unsportsmanlike; just Andrew plus another guy who was blocking the guy getting called for that. It just kind of defined Andrew Kristofic, always playing through the echo of the whistle.”

That moment also rekindles another Kristofic character trait: selfless and all about the team.

After all, the Irish third-year sophomore lineman owns experience at each position along the Notre Dame front and, despite the athleticism of a former signal-caller, also owns that selfless, team-first mindset that resonates with teammates.

“Andrew's a great offensive lineman,” Irish star tight end Michael Mayer says. “He worked his tail off all camp, all summer.

“Even before he got to start (at left guard), he's done nothing but worked his tail off. He knows what he's supposed to do. He does it every time. He's definitely given that offensive line a good boost.”

Settling in alongside freshman tackle Joe Alt to stabilize the left flank of the Irish line, Kristofic finally is seeing years of work – and cross-training – yield both individual and team dividends.

"I've put in a lot of work since the spring, switching positions down to center and guard,” says Kristofic, his father, Dave, a former Pittsburgh Panthers lineman. “I've been preparing for a long time now to get the opportunity, no matter in what capacity it's in. If it's coming in for relief or starting, I want to help the team win in any way possible."

Kasperowicz, after four years with a first-hand role in Kristofic's development, isn't surprised in the least by his former pupil's team-first approach.

“In talking to him, I know it's been a rough couple of years,” Kasperowicz says. “He goes from a three-year starter, team captain, kind of running the whole show for us, to going up there and having to wait.

“A place like Notre Dame, you might have to wait your turn. But I think the leadership abilities, the qualities Andrew has, I knew it just was a matter of time till he got on the field. Now that he's on there, and starting, I don't think he ever will relinquish that spot. Guys naturally gravitate to him. He's a natural leader that kids want to be around. I think that bodes well for the offensive line at Notre Dame.”

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