Rock star Jon Bon Jovi has a vested interest in the sports industry, but now that his son Jesse Bongiovi has a shot to walk on to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, it should be as heightened as ever.
There is no nepotism going on here for the son of Bon Jovi, a majority owner of the AFL's Philadelphia Soul.
Jesse Bongiovi actually has a legitimate chance to make the Irish if his strong athletic pedigree at Poly Prep County Day School in Brooklyn is any indication.
Christian McCollum of IrishSportsDaily.com documented Bongiovi's thoughts on the prospects of joining the team and how pumped he is to get the chance despite how difficult it will be:
I came up here when I was in eighth grade and I just fell in love with the place. The culture here, the people here, the opportunities here, they’re unreal. They’re second to none. Given the opportunity to walk on to the team and become a part of this family was an easy decision for me.
...I expect [walking on] to be one of the hardest things I’ll probably ever do, but I like a challenge. I like being able to overcome things and step up to occasions. Hopefully, I’ll get to persevere through something that’s pretty hard.
Bongiovi indicated that he wanted to start off at cornerback but that he'll play wherever the coaches want him to. At 5'11" and 180 pounds (h/t Dave Miller of the National Football Post), it makes sense that he would start off as a defensive back.
However, if he can put on enough strength throughout the offseason in the weight room, there is the possibility that he could move to safety. It will also help to be working alongside his high school teammate and 2014 Notre Dame commit, DE Jay Hayes.
It takes a tough brand of football player to take the field in South Bend, and Bongiovi's background on the gridiron and as a lacrosse star should only help. Lacrosse is an extremely physical sport, and players can't possibly shy away from contact. Even whacking opposing players with those harsh sticks is fair game.
His position in lacrosse was midfield and defensive midfield, which made him the primary facilitator and enforcer. Thus, if Bongiovi does indeed become a cornerback, it's not as if he'll be afraid to stick his nose in and lay down a lick.
Bongiovi's famous father has also been pushing him in the right direction. As Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post reported during Bongiovi's junior year playing for the Blue Devils, Jon Bon Jovi promotes an atmosphere of competitiveness in the household:
“He has an unbelievable commitment that I look up to,” Bongiovi said of his father. “He’ll come home Saturday mornings, I’ll sleep in and he’ll be like, ‘I just ran five miles. What did you do today?’"
That should bode well for Bongiovi's chances.
His physical style and hard-nosed mentality developed from lacrosse combined with a strong work ethic gives Bongioivi at least a puncher's chance at making the team.
As Bongiovi himself mentioned, though, it won't be easy. The increasing quality of talent that head coach Brian Kelly is bringing in makes the road to the final roster that much more arduous.
Despite his slighter stature, it's not out of the question that Bongiovi makes it if recent history is any indication. As Dan Murphy of 247Sports.com reported last year, six walk-ons made the cut—including a 5'10", 176-pound DB in Will Salvi (h/t ESPN).
Bongiovi's odds may be long, but don't count him out. And maybe someday, he'll take the field on a prime-time Saturday night in South Bend.
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