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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

“I can say I am a Notre Dame football player:” Cole Aubrey reflects on short Irish career with pride

Graduate student defensive lineman Cole Aubrey participates in a drill on the practice field.

Much of the focus this Saturday against Wake Forest will be on Notre Dame football’s “household names” — the Sam Hartmans, the JD Bertrands and the Cam Harts. But Senior Day at Notre Dame represents something more. It's an opportunity to honor and celebrate all those graduating who made a significant impact on the football team, the University and the community. In other words, it's also for players like Cole Aubrey. 

Aubrey has only spent a single year in South Bend but serves as a shining example of seizing an opportunity. The 6-foot, 230-pound defensive lineman out of Laguna Niguel, Calif., attended one of the nation's elite high school football programs in St. John Bosco. 

He parlayed a high school career in which he set school single-season and career sack records and a league sack record into an offer and enrollment at Princeton University. He shined with the Tigers, playing a full senior season in which he recorded 18 tackles and 2 sacks.

Aubrey transferred to Notre Dame this past summer in a decision he dubs a “no-brainer.”

“What Notre Dame stands for is just different,” Aubrey said. “It’s the elite combination of academics, athletics and the Catholic faith. The prestige of it all… the air is just different out here.” 

Aubrey did not choose to be an Irish football player with “any expectations.” He says his “mindset was to control the controllables and maximize every opportunity I got”. He made his season debut in Notre Dame’s dominant 56-3 victory over Tennessee State, which he describes as his favorite moment as an Irish player.

Aubrey smiled as he recalled the moment.

“It was a little different here than Princeton in terms of the fans and the energy. Going on that walk from the Basilica to the stadium, it really hit me. This is Notre Dame,” he said. 

Aubrey says he has felt a sense of belonging ever since his transfer. He shouted out the unparalleled community of the Irish faithful.

“Even at local restaurants, when people see I go to Notre Dame, they’re all so friendly and kind,” Aubrey described. “It’s been great.”

As he transitions into the next chapter of his life, Aubrey is grateful for what the Mendoza College of Business provided him given his liberal arts background at Princeton. He says he was able to “dial in and learn transferable skills such as accounting, statistics, quantitative business analysis and finance.” He believes these are skills he'll be able to use in his career moving forward. Aubrey plans on securing a position working in mergers and acquisitions consulting following his graduation.

Aubrey knows his time playing college football and his year at Notre Dame are reaching their conclusion.

“At this point, I’m an old man. It’s time to hang up the cleats pretty soon,” he acknowledged with a chuckle. “I have been so happy with this opportunity and thankful for the people that made it happen.”

Despite only donning the blue and gold for a single season, Aubrey achieved much more than “just being a part of it.” 

Cole Aubrey may be leaving the bright lights of Notre Dame Stadium and the brilliant stature of the Golden Dome behind, but the memories he forged both on the practice field and on campus will live on. Filled with gratitude, he reflected, “I can say I’m a Notre Dame football player who ran out of that tunnel and shook those fans’ hands walking into the game.”