Estimé Not Afraid Of Hard Work – Or Singing To The Crowd – Notre Dame Athletics

By John Brice
Special Contributor
The meeting could have gone a couple of different directions.
Two running backs, their hometowns separated by 1,350 miles, converged in South Bend, Indiana
Each player, Boutte, Louisiana, native Logan Diggs, and Nyack, N.Y., product Audric Estimè carried with him the self-assurance derived from the type of high school career that each had enjoyed; the production – on and off the field – requisite to have gleaned a scholarship offer from Notre Dame.
Both accustomed to being ‘The Man’ in his respective offensive backfield.
Similarly astute enough to know that both Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree dotted the Fighting Irish depth chart ahead of them upon their collegiate arrival; that even in a two-back set, only one player could garner a touch on any given snap.
So Estimè did what he has done for as long as he can remember; what comes as naturally – and seemingly as effortlessly – as breaking a tackle: He broke the ice.
“It probably had to be the first night we moved, the first night, the first day, freshman year,” Diggs said of his backfield classmate. “We went to a little get-together with all the football team, and Audric walked in, he had this song, he just walked in dancing. And that was the first thing that I saw.
“This big, swoll, guerilla-looking dude that was coming in there dancing. I’m like, yeah, he’s a clown. This dude is funny.”
Following an evening practice this week, this dude – Estimè – is first-year head coach Marcus Freeman’s choice to address the team.
In song.
“Coach Freeman loves my singing,” said Estimè, who switched his commitment from Michigan State to the Irish in 2021 and then appeared in a dozen games last fall as a freshman. “So, he actually made me sing in front of the whole team (Tuesday) after the walk-through. The ‘Here Come The Irish’ song.”
Here comes a streamlined yet plenty rugged version of Estimè; his body-fat shrunk from 16 to 10% this offseason and his weight a svelte 228 without, he has displayed, any loss in power.
A granite physique; a politician’s polish.
“I’ve never seen the guy really get angry or down; he’s even-keeled, he’s very determined,” said Deland McCullough, Notre Dame’s first-year running backs coach and former Super Bowl-champion assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs. “That’s one thing, he’s very determined in a positive way.”
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees recently cautioned against any notion that Estimè had been pigeon-holed into some battering-ram back.
McCullough has found that Estimè’s broad smile is matched only by his relentless dedication.
“Unlike other people, not here but places in general, he don’t just talk it; he goes out and does it,” McCullough said. “He doesn’t say I want to be the starting running back but then he’s kind of wishy-washy with how he prepares, wishy-washy with his performance.
“His performance exudes what he’s trying to do. The challenge is to consistently keep doing that and the ultimate thing is, if he gets to his goal of being the starter, can you keep that hunger, can you keep that drive. At this school and the way we recruit and the type of guys I know I can get, you’re always going to be challenged. You never can rest on your laurels at all.”
Estimè surely must find respite, but he long has designed a daily schedule that has allowed little wasted time. Having first started training at age 10 with his cousin, 2014 Miami Dolphins NFL Draft pick Terrence Fede, and then ratcheted up that regimen in high school, the nearly 6-foot, 228-pound Estimè has become a fixture around Notre Dame’s facilities.
“Even when the team is not working out, I’m always getting my work in,” Estimè said. “I’m also coming back to the facility or coming in here (to the Irish Athletics Center).
“When we have a team lift in the morning, and we have off the afternoon, I like to come back and get some core in, get some conditioning in, get some more arms in or an extra workout. Whatever I can do, just to get myself an advantage. Not just for the guys I’m competing with on the team but to give myself an advantage against guys all across the country.”
Estimè has leaned upon a similar benchmark via the support of his Haitian-American family, his mother born here in the United States but each of his seven aunts and uncles, as well as grandmother and grandfather, natives of the Caribbean country.
“We have the Haitian culture, the Haitian food, Haitian holidays and stuff,” said Estimè, who noted his favorite family dish is rice and legume. “They speak Creole. I don’t speak it, but I understand most of the language.”
He has branded his own language here at Notre Dame, one where an irrepressible smile has seemed perhaps counterintuitive to his Hulk-like visage.
“I know the pressure of camp, honestly, and of college; you fail a lot, honestly, and you succeed a good amount,” Estimè said. “Just no matter what, you don’t know what people are going through. Because I could be going through some stuff and I would like someone to come crack a joke with me or put their arm around me or maybe I can just cheer them up, so I just try to stay as positive as I can.
“Just want to uplift this group and just to win this national championship.”
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