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A Tale of Two Teams: Notre Dame and BYU

When the Cougars travel to South Bend this weekend to take on the Notre Dame fighting Irish, they will find themselves in a battle. But the two schools have more in common than you might think. Both schools are religious institutions and hold a high academic standard. Both are independent teams and are sitting not far outside the top 25. Another common factor between only these two schools is —both have been home to BYU defensive back, Chris Badger.

Badger played on Notre Dame’s scout team last season while his team made a run to the BCS National Championship game. But when family circumstances warranted his return to his hometown of Provo, he approached Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly about transferring to BYU.  “He gave me time to think about it and let me know that if I did want to stay, that my scholarship would be there,” Badger said. Kelly and the NCAA allowed Badger to leave Notre Dame and play at BYU without losing a year of eligibility for transferring. Since his arrival, the redshirt freshman has played mostly on special teams, beginning his play on punt return against Middle Tennessee State. He has continued to play a role on kickoff, and even got in some time on defense against Idaho State on Saturday, making 5 tackles, 3 of them solo.

Part of what has made his return so smooth is his longtime friendship with fellow defender and high school teammate, Craig Bills. “The first few weeks I would stand there right next to Craig on the sideline and I’d look at the call and I would tell him what my responsibilities were… That helped me pick up the defense even faster,” Badger said.

While at Notre Dame, Badger had another great defender to help him grow. NFL linebacker Manti Te’o was in Badger’s LDS Ward at Notre Dame, and the two were even paired together as home teaching companions. “I was close with Manti… he’s just such a humble and great person,” said Badger.  

With the trip back to South Bend, Badger says he’s excited to see old friends and teammates. But when it comes down to it,” he added, “I’m excited just to play football.”

From the desk of Alan Miller, a producer for BYU Sports Nation.

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