Thursday, December 29, 2005

Back to the beginning | by Pat

A nice story yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times focusing on Brady Quinn and his Ohio hometown in the Chicago Sun-Times. One of the more interesting excerpts deals with just how Brady Quinn ended up wearing the Blue and Gold.

Instead, a chance meeting at the start of middle-school football set Quinn on the road to Notre Dame. A new family named Ndukwe had moved to Dublin, and its 12-year-old son, Chinedum -- ''Nedu'' to his friends -- arrived for his first day of practice.

''I was the only African American out there, and not a lot of people were talking to me,'' recalled Ndukwe, now a Notre Dame safety. ''Brady was there, and he had just gotten back from Florida with his family, so he was very tan. I thought he was a Native American, so I also thought, 'Hey, that's good. I'm not the only minority around here.' Then he came over and introduced himself and started talking to me, and we've been friends ever since.''

The two later would star at Coffman High School in Dublin -- Quinn as quarterback, Ndukwe as his fleet wide receiver. But of greater importance, Ndukwe's father, Stephen, would include Quinn when he took Nedu to visit an elder son who was an undergraduate at Notre Dame.

''The influence of Stephen Ndukwe in how Brady got to Notre Dame cannot be overstated enough,'' Ty Quinn said. ''As a young boy, Brady always had Notre Dame pennants and stuff in his room. Then in high school, the school didn't show tremendous interest in him, but coach Willingham was interested in Nedu.

"And then I'll never forget, after Nedu went to South Bend and committed, Stephen came home and got me out of bed at 1 a.m. to talk to me. We drank beer for an hour or so, and he told me that he had told Willingham he should be taking a long look at Brady. And then he was telling me that we should make arrangements to go to South Bend as soon as possible to try and seal the deal. And that's basically how Brady got to Notre Dame.''

Said Mark Crabtree, Quinn's final varsity coach at Coffman: ''The Ndukwes are the hidden heroes of the story at Notre Dame for a couple of reasons. First, it was Stephen who seemed to see the final path of the scholarship there for Brady. Without Stephen, I think Brady would have wound up at Michigan. Second, Nedu has been playing defense, where he never played a snap in his high school career. And now, while Brady gets so many accolades, rightly, for what he has done, Nedu gets overlooked as one of the mainstays of an improving Notre Dame defense.''
I think I speak for all ND fans when I say 'Thank you Mr. Ndukwe".