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Notre Dame is choice of Cardinal Mooney football standout Kyle McCarthy.



Published: Tue, January 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Notre Dame is choice of Cardinal Mooney football standout Kyle McCarthy.

YOUNGSTOWN -- One of Kyle McCarthy's assets on the football field is his ability to make quick decisions, turning an average play into one that changes the momentum of the game.

It's called instinct. The Cardinal Mooney High senior had the same kind of intuition this past weekend, when he made a visit to the University of Notre Dame.

Upon returning home, McCarthy decided his football-playing future would be with the Fighting Irish.

"Ever since I've been 2-years old I've dreamed of playing for Notre Dame," said McCarthy, Mooney's quarterback-defensive back, who led the Cardinals to the Division IV state championship in December.

Ohio State was in the running

Interestingly, though, Notre Dame wasn't always McCarthy's first choice through the recruiting process.

He made his first official visit to Ohio State on Jan. 7 and was offered a scholarship by coach Jim Tressel.

"I really thought Ohio State was my favorite," said McCarthy. "I've always been a Notre Dame fan, but that really wasn't a factor."

He also made official visits to the United States Naval Academy and Northwestern University before going to South Bend, Ind., last weekend with his parents, John and Janet.

"Everyone always said, 'You'll know you've found your place when you get that special feeling,' " said McCarthy. "Walking through the [Notre Dame] campus, around the stadium, I knew.

"Seeing the campus, meeting the people, and the football tradition there ... it was the total package. I just felt it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

New staff picked up the trail

Former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham recruited McCarthy last fall but there was a lull between his firing and the hiring of his replacement, Charlie Weis.

McCarthy said he was recruited by several Notre Dame assistant coaches in addition to Weis.

"They've hinted that I will come into [fall] camp on defense," said McCarthy.

"Really, though, it doesn't matter. I enjoy playing and honestly, I like just being on the field. So, whatever position gives me the first chance to play, that's what I'll do."

McCarthy said he was impressed by Weis, the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"He's a very down-to-earth guy, a straight shooter," he said. "With all the success he's had in the NFL, it's exciting to think of what he'll bring to Notre Dame."

Not surprisingly, McCarthy said he's somewhat relieved that he's been able to make a decision.

"[The recruiting process has] been stressful," he said, "and at other times it's been great.

"I just feel thankful and fortunate. I'm happy to be a part of Notre Dame."

Asked what it felt like to be called a Notre Dame Fighting Irish, McCarthy laughed.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. I don't think it will for some time."




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