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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Jimmy Byrne becomes valuable member of Irish offensive line

Irish senior offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne is a complete juxtaposition to a Notre Dame that consists of high-profile games, sold-out crowds and intense media coverage.

Hailing from Cleveland, Byrne has developed into an easygoing individual who also happens to be an offensive lineman for one of the best college football programs in the country. In his own words, he is a “pretty simple guy, easygoing.”

The 6-foot, 4-inch senior fell in love with the University when he visited as a high school recruit, adding that the combination of great football and great academics, combined with the campus size was the key for his decision to don the gold helmet on Saturdays.

Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer
Irish senior lineman Jimmy Byrne runs upfield during the Blue and Gold game on April 22.

“First, was the education obviously, can’t beat that,” Byrne said. “Second, was the coaching staff, couldn’t beat that; I was a big fan of coach [Harry] Hiestand, the offensive line coach. Then just getting on campus and seeing it, being a little bit smaller, it’s more of my style than a big state school or something like that.”

Byrne even turned down his local football powerhouse, Ohio State, in order to play for the Irish, despite the Buckeyes being the first to come calling at his door with an offer.

Every Notre Dame student has an especially special moment in his or her undergraduate career. For Byrne, the most memorable experiences have been playing under the bright lights at Notre Dame Stadium, where the larger-than-life, electric atmosphere remind him of what playing for Notre Dame is all about.

“Every year there’s that one game that just really sticks out when you run out of the tunnel you’re like, ‘Wow this is Notre Dame football,’” Byrne said. “My freshman year we played Michigan at night and it was 37-to-nothing, I think, we won. You know, playing Texas under the lights and games like that where you just run out of the tunnel and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is Notre Dame.’”

This season will also include one more memorable game for Byrne and the rest of his classmates, as the game against Navy will also commemorate the seniors of the team. Byrne’s parents will be on the field with him to celebrate the grit, grind and success that Byrne has endured throughout his collegiate football career.

“I think it’s just as big of a day for my parents as it is for me,” Byrne said. “Obviously, they get to be on the field and that’s a really cool experience for them.”

For incoming freshmen to the football team, Jimmy provided some veteran advice.

“I’d probably just tell them the same thing that I was told when I was a freshman: Just stick with it,” Byrne said. “You know, it gets tough with school sometimes, it gets tough with football, it’s a big constraint on your time. Just stick with it, you got a ton of resources around you, a lot of great people around here that want nothing but the best for you, they’re all going to help you succeed. Four years later, still here.”

Byrne said he has learned a lot from working as a member of a team, especially a tightly-knit group like the offensive line.

“I think it’s just to be able to work in a team environment,” Byrne said. “Guys from all around the country — we talk about it all the time in the O-line — we got like 15 guys from like 15 different states, just everyone coming together, one goal, figuring everything out and moving forward towards one common goal.”

Byrne will be graduating in December, a semester early, with a degree in IT management and plans to work in the IT field.