May 13—Jack Kiser is coming off his best season yet as a linebacker for the Notre Dame football team.
The pride of Royal Center and Cass County earned the most playing time of his career while still playing in a part-time role in what was a deep linebacking corps for the Fighting Irish.
The Pioneer product played in all 13 games, including eight starts. He placed seventh on the defense with 45 total tackles, 26 of which were unassisted. He was one of just two Irish players with multiple interceptions on the season. He became first Irish player with two defensive scores in the same season since Julian Love in 2017. He forced two fumbles, created five pass breakups, had two quarterback hurries and added one tackle for loss.
It was technically his junior season, but he has three seasons left of eligibility. He can take a redshirt season for his freshman year when he appeared in the maximum four games to take a redshirt. Plus, he has an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent telephone interview, Kiser spoke with the Pharos-Tribune about his athletic and academic career at Notre Dame.
You're coming off your best season yet at Notre Dame. What are your thoughts on this past season?
"I think I'm getting to the point where I've matured more than physically but mentally and I'm able to handle the responsibilities and workload that being a college athlete requires. I think the biggest thing is I've settled into a routine and am able to know exactly what I need to do on a weekly basis to succeed and I think that honestly helped me get on the field last year and provide some valuable minutes and hopefully next year it helps me take that next step."
What's an update on your school situation?
Kiser said he is graduating soon with a degree in business analytics.
"My graduation ceremony is on Sunday, so I'm graduating early. Then in the fall I'll start my Master's of Accounting program. And that's a one-year program. So I'll finish that up next spring and then from there I would have the option to come back and play another year and do another degree if I wanted to. If I just want to play football then I would do non-degree classes.
"This year I'm locked in on football and my master's program and then from there I'll just go with what's going on in my life and how I feel and wherever that journey takes me."
Kiser also talked about how he managed to graduate in business analytics in three years.
"I've been doing 18 credits the last three or four semesters and in combination with the summer classes it's allowed me to get ahead. Then if you remember I enrolled early and so that gave me a full semester right there."
It's been an eventful offseason for the Notre Dame football program. What are your thoughts on the new coaching hires?
On defensive coordinator Al Golden:
"I've been here this is going to be my fourth season and I've had three DC's now. So it's been interesting to see going from coach Clark Lea to coach Freeman now to coach Golden, see how the philosophies change and how each one thinks and looks at the threats of an offense and how they go through their game planning process and see how that evolves. And each of them have a different style which has been really neat to see in terms of how they want to run the defense. I think going from coach Freeman who was very much a 'play fast, play physical, create havoc' now to coach Golden, who's going to be a lot more 'what's your keys, what do you see presnap recognition,' there's going to be a lot more to it mentally but I think that's only going to enhance the defense and allow us to take that next step."
On head coach Marcus Freeman:
"If you saw the video that circulated on Twitter of when they announced coach Freeman to the team I think that just kind of speaks for everybody of how excited the team is for coach Freeman and the energy that's in the building right now. Coach Freeman's been saying this over the spring that the University of Notre Dame football program has so much momentum right now. Every day we just have to come in and add to that momentum. If we keep doing that there's going to be nothing that can stop us. It's a breath of fresh air to be able to play under someone like coach Freeman."
You had a good spring game with a team-high five tackles (one for a loss) in the Gold's 13-10 win. What are your overall thoughts on your spring?
"I had a good spring. I think a lot of it was just adjusting to coach Golden and his playbook. We put in a lot of stuff, just learning the playbook and getting to know it. Then it was nice because I was able to get healed up a little bit from the season. I got a little banged up in the spring but it wasn't terrible. Now I'll have a little bit more time and hopefully by fall camp I'll be feeling as good as ever."
What are your thoughts about this upcoming season?
"I think the team goal is ultimately to win a National Championship. I don't think that ever changes at Notre Dame. As a defense I think we really want to be the side of the ball that dictates how the game goes. I think we have the guys to do that. Fortunately we've got a bunch of guys back such as Isaiah Foskey and Michael Mayer, so we've got a really good roster this year and we're excited to go out there and prove some people wrong and just make some big things happen."
On possibly playing multiple linebacker positions next season:
"I'm going to be playing everything from will to rover to mike in some packages. It just really depends on first off what offense we're playing that week and then what packages we're going to be playing in the game. But I'm excited for that. It allows me to utilize my skillset a little bit more and not get pigeonholed into one spot."
On having three years of eligibility left:
"That doesn't mean I'm going to be there for three years or exhaust all three years. ... I'm looking at it from here on out one year at a time and just see how things play out."