Story Poster
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Previewing the First Senior Day of the Freeman Era at Notre Dame

November 18, 2022

At least 25 Fighting Irish players will run out of the Notre Dame Stadium tunnel for the last time on Saturday to face Boston College. 

It’ll be Marcus Freeman’s first senior day as Notre Dame's head coach. The No. 18 Irish haven’t quite lived up to preseason expectations, but Freeman still feels incredibly grateful for their contributions to the program.

“I'll be forever in debt to them,” Freeman said. “This will be a special group forever to me because they had blind faith. They didn't choose me to be their head coach and they came to Notre Dame for other reasons. No matter if they chose me or not, they committed to the vision I had for this football program.”

That vision didn’t include losses to Marshall and Stanford. Nevertheless, Freeman watched as his senior leaders stepped up after painful defeats. 

At times, otherwise stoic players showed great emotion and disappointment, including when Jarrett Patterson angrily charged off the field after the loss to the Thundering Herd. 

While he may have let his emotions get the better of him, Patterson also expressed real pain and showed his younger teammates just how much they need to care about winning and the Notre Dame program.

“The frustration he showed after Marshall is what is expected by any competitor that loses a game you don’t feel like you should lose,” Freeman said. “He’s a great leader. He was emotional after a tough loss, but he’s also a guy that can raise the play of others and raise the mentality of others. That’s important. That’s what leaders do. Leaders make other people better and that’s what Jarrett Patterson is.”

Freeman also believes the culture he’s worked so hard to implement was laid after the trying losses.

“This group has truly laid the foundation of where I see this football program going forward,” Freeman said. “It hasn’t been just a smooth road. It’s been a bumpy one that has had some ups and downs. What they’ve done is preserved and helped us really understand how to get through those tough times.”

“The culture of your program is truly defined through some of the toughest times.”

While we still don’t have a list of who will be participating in senior day festivities, it’s fair to assume that guys like Patterson, Avery Davis, Josh Lugg and other mainstays will say fair well to fans on Saturday. They’ll do so on the field with two family members each. 

Initially, coach Marcus Freeman stated that anyone who participated in senior day festivities with their parents would not be returning to the program in 2023.

He’s offered clarification on that since, especially for seniors who are waiting on feedback from the NFL before deciding on a potential fifth year. 

“What I don’t want them to do is not participate in Senior Day and decide to go to the NFL,” Freeman said. “If there’s a possibility of this being your last year of playing football, I want you to be part of Senior Day and those will be the guys that will be recognized on Saturday.”

For those already projecting the 2023 roster, it’ll likely be more interesting to watch who doesn’t walk onto the field with their parents than who does. 

Whoever walks onto the field must dress for frigid weather, parents included. 

It’s snowed for days leading up to Saturday’s contest. The high will be 28. degrees Fahrenheit.

The Irish practice outside throughout the week to prepare for such conditions, so Freeman says the weather won’t be an excuse against Boston College come Saturday.

“It’s just understanding we're going to practice outside and we’re going to play outside,” Freeman said. “Dress warm and go play. If you dress appropriately, it won’t be an issue. If you try to be a tough guy, there is no such thing as cold tough guys and you better be a warm tough guy. Make sure you dress appropriately, go practice and go play.”

Cutter & Buck Green Notre Dame Fighting Irish Adapt Eco Knit Hybrid Recycled Full-Zip Jacket

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.