If you're not a Notre Dame fan, it's easy to forget that Jeff Samardzija was a record-setting wide receiver for the Irish before he became the ace of the Cubs' starting rotation.
The right-hander starred with Notre Dame from 2003-2006 and set career records (later broken by Michael Floyd or Golden Tate) for receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and receptions. He could've pursued a football career and been a first-round draft pick -- and even told coach Charlie Weis after his junior season he intended to play football. But he played in the Cubs' organization the summer between his junior and senior years, and realized baseball had a greater pull with him than football.
"Going back to Notre Dame, I couldn't stop thinking about baseball," Samardzija said on Monday's edition of "The Dan Patrick Show." "It was really weird. It really captured me that summer when I went and played and saw what baseball was about, the traveling, playing every day. I don't know, I've always been a happy guy when I go to the baseball field."
Still, given his stardom at one of college football's most popular (and hated) programs, he's forced to keep up with the Irish since it's such a frequent topic of conversation.
"When you're a young kid there you kind of put up with everything, you do the media, but you don't realize the scope of it all until you leave," Samardzija said. "You really realize how many people it affects, whether they love them or they hate them. It's just such a polarizing team. It's kind of crazy. I always have to stay up on my information even though I don't really watch it that religiously in the offseason, I have to do it just for the simple fact of being asked about it. "'How we gonna be this year, Samardzija?' 'You know, uh, pretty good.'" You gotta do your research, I guess."