ABC57 talks one on one with the father of Notre Dame Football Head Coach Marcus Freeman
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind -- Roughly 250 miles from Notre Dame Stadium, a community in Huber Heights, Ohio is cheering on one of their own. LeVon Whittaker traveled to new Notre Dame Football Head Coach Marcus Freeman's hometown recently to hear from his family about what the coach's success means for their whole community.
"Marcus is one of those guys he’s never met a stranger. He meets you he’s got a smile on his face, he’s willing to shake your hand and get to know you," said Marcus Freeman's father Michael.
"Just to talk to him you wouldn’t know this is a tough kid you dealing with," said Michael.
Michael Freeman always believed his son Marcus would go places, but he admits, his timeline was a little off.
"It was a little earlier than I expected in his life but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to, in my lifetime to see this. You know, I was looking at maybe 5 or maybe even 10 years down the road so I was happy, very happy to see this," said Michael.
Freeman grew up in the small town of Huber Heights, Ohio, outside of Dayton.
His mother Chong, a Korean immigrant.
His father Michael, a 26-year air force veteran.
"I get my discipline, my work ethic, my honesty from my father. I get my unselfishness and other centered focus from my mother, and that's exactly how I will lead this football program," said Notre Dame Football Head Coach Marcus Freeman.
Both parents front and center beaming with pride as Marcus became the 30th head coach of Notre Dame football, earlier this month.
"He believes in getting after it so to speak. Getting up early. He’s the type of person that he wants to he looks at his craft and see what the problems are and things of this nature and he gets after it," said Michael.
Long before the defensive coordinator turned head coach arrived at the golden dome, he walked through these halls at Wayne High School.
"He had a great reputation when he was here as a student," said Marcus' high school Principal Gary Doll.
A standout athlete, freeman played football and ran track.
"I was part of the crew that worked with him to enter early at Ohio State university and he made us proud at Ohio State. He’s made us proud at U-C and honestly, he’s made us proud at Notre Dame,” said Doll.
Sitting down with his former principal Gary Doll and and former track coach Mike Fernandez, you could see their pride.
"I know how i feel personally because i was able to coach him. I can only imagine how everybody just around the community feels," said Marcus' high school track coach Mike Fernandez.
Despite Huber Heights, being solidly in Ohio State buckeye territory.
"You are in buckeye territory. Ok? I’m gone let you know that. My friends let me know that I’m a buckeye in buckeye territory. But, but they going with him," said Michael.
So are the Fighting Irish.
The decision to hire Freeman, receiving overwhelming support from players and fans.
"One of the things he confided in me about, even going to Notre Dame was that how intelligent the football players were and the fact that the days of saying well you got to do this, this way and do that, was over. He said dad you have to explain to young men now if you want to do something a certain way," said Michael.
To help get things done, Freeman has made some changes.
"The intensity has changed. We practice at a high tempo," said Notre Dame Running Back Logan Diggs.
"It really feels like we're playing ball every day," said Notre Dame Wide Receiver Braden Lenzy.
Practices are more fast paced and more competitive.
"The brotherhood, the comradery that you get to see as we compete against one another. I think it just sets the tone for practice," said Notre Dame Defensive Lineman and Captain Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.
With the starting offense and defense facing off every day in various drills.
"Offense is currently 0-2," said Tagovailoa-Amosa.
While the tactics may be different, the goal remains the same.
"I know that the honeymoon period is fast. Now is the honeymoon period. Before you know it, it’s game time," said Michael.
That first game, that first opportunity for freeman to prove he has what it takes to lead the Irish to victory, is here.
Notre dame, taking on 9th ranked Oklahoma State in the fiesta bowl on New Year's Day.
"You got to produce. You’re at a school that demands excellence and you gone have to be excellent in what you do, because you know, the competition is always there. You got to be competitive," said Michael.