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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Kristofic’s commitment to culture defining his Irish career

Graduate offensive lineman Andrew Kristofic warms up before Notre Dame’s game against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium on Nov. 12, 2022.

If there’s one consistent thread through Andrew Kristofic’s Notre Dame football career, it’s a positive culture. 

Coming out of Gibsonia’s Pine-Richland High School in Pennsylvania, Kristofic ranked 21st among offensive tackles nationally and 1st among all Pennsylvania players by When he made his first visit to Notre Dame, it was that very thing — culture — that drew him to South Bend.

“I remember first, my first visit here, like, it was just something different about it,” Kristofic said. “Just getting to experience the culture of it from an outsider's perspective, [it] was so strong. I couldn't pass it up to be a part of something like that.”

Since enrolling early with the Irish in January of 2019, Kristofic’s Notre Dame experience has “passed every expectation.” This is despite the amount of change he has seen in the locker room during his career. In his five years with the Irish, Kristofic has played under three different offensive line coaches — Jeff Quinn, Harry Hiestand and now Joe Rudolph.

“Anytime you get a coaching change, it's difficult, but you really rely on the guys in your room,” Kristofic said. “It's the guys in the room that you know, regardless of who comes in, there's always going to be that tight bond that you're gonna be able to get through it and make the most of it.” 

Over his career, Kristofic has dug deep into the bonds formed by the offensive line group. After appearing in only four contests during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Kristofic has now taken the field in every game for the last three years. Occupying different places on the depth chart, few can better testify to the strength of the culture than him.

“That's part of what makes this place so special is kind of the connection, like you have with the guys that are in your room,” Kristofic said. “I came in with guys that had all been starters for at least a year, and then were starters for a couple years when I got here. Regardless of how talented someone was, at any point in our room, their head was never too big. They were never too good for anyone else. Those guys were oftentimes the ones that did the most to help out, especially with the younger guys and stuff.

“The culture is so awesome. [I am] so very thankful to be a part of that and get to experience it.”

Kristofic counts a few of the recent games in which he appeared as some of his favorite on-field memories. Field stormings against Clemson in 2020 and 2022, and against USC this season, come immediately to mind. But so do some dramatic road finishes.

“Going on the road in 2021 and beating Florida State and V-Tech, like those are two unbelievable away games. There are a ton of great memories on the field,” he said.

After graduating last spring with an undergraduate degree in marketing, Kristofic will now officially walk away from Notre Dame with a masters in data analytics as well. While his plans for the future aren’t concrete, the perks of his resume are hard to ignore — though Kristofic remains humble about them.

“I'm blessed because I was able to go to school here [and] play football here,” he said. “It's given me a lot of opportunities, to set myself up [for] whatever is going to be for my next phase of life. So I couldn't be more excited for the opportunity I've had to be here and obviously, hopefully I can make the most of that going forward.” 

No matter where Kristofic goes next, his role in upholding what brought him to Notre Dame — the team’s culture — is bound to last.