Bury walks on with Notre Dame

Former Bishop Guertin tight end and Brookline native Chris Bury is living a dream come true, walking on to the University of Notre Dame football team. Courtesy photo

Call Brookline’s Chris Bury a player with a plan.

He’s always had one. When he was at Bishop Guertin, after two years of toiling on the offensive line and with new coach Travis Cote coming in, Bury just started lining up with the tight ends to see if he could stick there. He did.

At Stonehill College, while playing two years of college football after a redshirt year, he entered into an advanced computer engineering program in conjunction with Stonehill that would allow him to study at the University of Notre Dame for two years, with year one almost complete.

And play football? That’s the plan.

He’s on his way to doing that, at least with the opportunity to dress for Fighting Irish home games this coming fall after completing spring practice in Saturday’s annual Blue and Gold Game as one of six tight ends on the Irish spring roster.

“It’s been hard to process all of it, but basically, it’s just kind of trusting my plan,” said the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Bury, who will get his degree in computer science from Stonehill this spring and then another in computer engineering from Notre Dame next year. “It’s one of those things where you don’t know if it’ll work out, but you work hard at it anyway.”

Oh, he’s been working hard. But the plan began a year ago when he contacted Notre Dame football player personnel director Dave Peloquin. “I just wanted to introduce myself, put a name to a face,” he said.

And then, after a few conversations, he got an email from the football office once he had spent some time at South Bend asking him to attend a 90-minute tryout. He evidently did well enough to make the spring roster.

“They’re just seeing how I move,” Bury said, “whether they want me faster or as a power guy.”

Bury met with the coaches, and even head coach Brian Kelly.

“I wanted to thank him for the opportunity,” he said. “He’s very nice, he’s an Assumption alum, so he knew Stonehill (which plays Assumption). We talked about that. He liked my size, my experience.”

His experience was a redshirt year of getting bigger and stronger at Stonehill, but he played sparingly – just six games – over two seasons. But once he knew he had the chance at being part of the Notre Dame program, Bury began basically his own training regimen, changing his diet, running, hitting the weight room.

He kept the whole idea quiet for the longest time.

“I really didn’t tell anybody, just my parents,” he said. “It was between me and my parents.”

But this past fall, while on the South Bend campus, Bury would go to games. But rather than cheer and simply be a typical fan, he would take notes on formations, etc., focusing on what Notre Dame – and especially the tight ends – were doing offensively.

And now he’s on the practice field. “They told me that as long as I show up and do the right things, I’d be OK,” Bury said. “They like what I’ve been doing. It’s been great so far.”

Bury said he has been used on the scout team, and says the intensity at practice is unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

“It feels like the tempo is a lot faster,” he said. “Everything’s timed, you’re running on (the sound of) an air horn every five minutes. Everything is very upbeat. It feels like we’re getting ready for that (opening) game versus Temple, that it’s two weeks away.”

But it’s not until early September, and the question is, will Bury be part of things then? It’s expected he’ll dress for home games, but he’ll have to impress during training camp to make the travel squad.

But he’s always been ready. He remembers his first start as a junior at BG, Cote told him 10 minutes before the game he’d be starting.

Bury loves the Notre Dame tradition. Game days at South Bend are unlike anything he’s ever seen. “They start at 8 in the morning,” he said of the tailgaters and students migrating to the stadium. “It’s really something incredible, a great atmosphere.”

Obviously friends have brought up to him the 1993 movie “Rudy” the real life story of Notre Dame walk on Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. But that player was 5-6, and certainly faced bigger odds. Bury is happy about a different aspect of this.

“I saw it as a kid, obviously,” he said. “But the thing I’m most happy about is I was able to make it as a tight end here, which is nice. They’ve had so many good ones. There’s a lot of history here at the position. They call it Tight End University.”

Bury knows there is much more work to be done on his own time, including watching film, which he tries to do each day, even for a couple of hours.

“I’m just trying to get myself better as a football player,” he said. “And I go to school here challenging myself to be a better student every day. I’m going to maximize my potential to get what I can get out of it.”

What’s not completely worked out is his eligibility beyond this coming season. It would seem he has two years left, and can be treated as a transfer.

If he chooses to stay at Notre Dame as a grad student after receiving his second undergrad degree next year, he’d have one more year of football, potentially. But he hasn’t been officially informed of all that yet.

What if he does play two years and shows he could even play beyond college?

“At least I’ll have that one year (this coming season),” he said. “If I get two years, after that I’ll kind of re-evaluate it. If I ever did (get to take a stab at the NFL), it would be unbelievable.

“But right now, I’m not going to have any doubt, no what-ifs, which will let me sleep at night.”

And then Chris Bury will contemplate the next step in his plan.

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