SOUTH BEND — Kyle McCarthy still laughs about those 2-on-1 backyard
football games, in which younger brother Dan always found himself on
the short end of the arithmetic.
“It would always be one of my friends and me against him,” the former
Notre Dame safety recalled. “And for whatever reason, Danny decided
that was fair.
“He would get the ball, and we’d just whoop up on him, and he’d get up
and keep going every time.”
And Kyle McCarthy is convinced that player is still inside the No. 15
Notre Dame jersey assigned to his younger brother for a fifth and
final season this fall.
“He’s tough as nails, and I’d kind of like to take credit for that,”
the elder McCarthy said with a chuckle. “But after everything that’s
happened to him, I’m expecting big things for him this season. And I
know that’s what he’s expecting from himself, too.”
Dan — the more highly recruited of the McCarthy brothers, the former
Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, the second team
prep-All-American (USA Today) — has almost as long of an injury report
than statistical highlights through his first four collegiate seasons.
It started with a serious neck injury during a playoff run his senior
season at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney High. Dan, a quarterback/safety,
for the perennial Ohio prep power, was injured during helmet-to-helmet
contact while playing defense.
“It was a broken vertebra and a corrupt disc,” Dan said. “So they had
to repair that with fusion.”
“I was in South Bend when it happened, and I got this phone call,”
Kyle said. “At that time, whether Dan was going to play football or
not was the last thing on my mind and on our family’s mind. We just
wanted him to get healthy any way he could.
“When it got to the point where football did become an option, Danny
took it upon himself to make it clear he wanted to come back and
fulfill his dream to play football at Notre Dame.”
It sure hasn’t played out like a dream.
Four years in, the injuries continue to amass and Dan’s career tackle
total stands at 16. Kyle, meanwhile, almost had that many in a single
game against Pitt in 2008 (15).
That same season, the elder McCarthy became the first defensive back
in ND history to college 100 tackles or more (110). In 2009, he did it
again (101) before embarking on a pro football career, first with the
Denver Broncos, then Kansas City.
“I’m healthy now,” Dan McCarthy offered of his situation. “It’s what
you work for. I’m happy and blessed to have this opportunity, and
hopefully I’ll make the most of it.”
A shoulder injury to teammate Austin Collinsworth, and subsequent
surgery that will keep him out until at least late October, widened
the opportunity for the younger McCarthy. Irish head coach Brian Kelly
likes to play three safeties fairly regularly, and Dan is angling for
Then again, safety is perhaps the deepest position group on the team,
with 11 scholarship players, not including Collinsworth. Seniors Zeke
Motta and Jamoris Slaughter are the projected starters.
McCarthy looks to emerge from a group that includes sophomore Eilar
Hardy, former walk-on and Bengal Bouts boxing champion Chris Salvi,
true freshman Elijah Shumate and 20-year-old freshman Chris Badger,
recently returned from his Mormon Mission.
“Just whatever I can do to help out,” Dan said of his desired role.
“Whenever the coach calls upon you, you have to be ready at that
Toughness certainly won’t be an issue. In addition to Kyle’s warped
sense of fair play in the family football face-offs, the culture at
Cardinal Mooney infused that quality in Dan as well.
This is a school with eight Ohio State prep football titles, including
four since 2004 — two of which the McCarthys had a hand in. It’s a
school that’s produced the DeBartolos, of Notre Dame and San Francisco
49er fame; former boxing standout Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini; Nebraska
head football coach Bo Pelini; and the Stoops family coaching tree,
including the Oklahoma Sooners’ head coach, Bob.
“It’s a tight-knit group, like a fraternity,” Kyle said of the Mooney
football family. “And from that group you learn work ethic, you learn
what it means to be blue collar. And that’s how Dan and I have
approached our careers on the football field and our lives off it.”
The McCarthy brothers talk on the phone almost every day, with Kyle
usually playing the role of mentor. But recently they flip-flopped.
After Kyle suffered a season-ending knee injury last week during
Chiefs training camp, it was Dan with the uplifting words.
“Dan reminded me to just keep working and that good things with
happen,” said Kyle, who will undergo surgery on Aug. 14. “Looking at
where he’s come from, I’d say he probably knows what he’s talking
Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist concocted a unique approach toward
trying to improve the Jayhawks’ No. 96 national standing (out of 120)
in sacks allowed from last season.
Bribery — sort of.
According to Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal, the transfer
from Notre Dame treated his offensive linemen to homemade brownies
after a recent workout.
“I think his girlfriend or somebody did it for him,” Jayhawks
offensive guard Duane Zlatnik told Meek.
But the strategy worked anyway, at least in the short term.
“Fat kids like brownies,” Zlatnik said.
Boyd moves on — again
Former Notre Dame cornerback Spencer Boyd, who spent the past two
seasons at South Florida, is on the move again. Greg Auman of the
Tampa Tribune reports that Boyd is transferring to Shepherd
University, a Div. II school in Sheperdstown. W.Va.
He is expected to sit out the 2012 season.