Ricky Watters has accomplished a lot in his career. The former Notre Dame running back won a Super Bowl, rushed for over 10,000 yards in the NFL, and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection during his playing career. One thing he never did, however, is graduate from college, and the 45-year old is trying to rectify that this summer.
“I remember so vividly times that people would announce me as a Notre Dame graduate; everyone even thinks that I’m a Notre Dame graduate,” Watters said. “I know I’m not, and I have that feeling every time someone would say that. So I said, ‘You know what, that’s also a big part of it.’
Watters has moved his family from Orlando to South Bend as he works towards finishing his degree. Watters was originally an architecture student, but because the program generally requires five years, he was unable to graduate before heading to the NFL. Watters has transferred his credits over to graphic design, and is working to fulfill a long-time goal, albeit almost 30 years after it began.
“It’s for your soul, just to feel complete and to feel like you finished it. You did what you set out to do. Both my parents, they’ve passed away now, and I know they’re looking down on me, and when they see me get that degree it’s going to be a happy time for them, too.”
I am getting student discounts and benefits!! I am rolling in it! Lol. pic.twitter.com/rC7J9h31Yp
— Ricky Watters (@RickyWatters) July 13, 2014
— Catherina Watters (@catwatters) July 10, 2014
While football isn’t a major focus of Watters’ return to campus, he has stayed involved with the program while there.
Fighting Irish running backs coach Tony Alford invited Watters to speak to his position group, with Watters stressing to the players the importance of immersing themselves with the rest of the student body and recognizing the power of their platform. And Watters has familiar company in Malkovsky’s theology class, with offensive lineman Steve Elmer among the handful of players he can call classmates.
This year, Watters may get to see some Irish football from a different perspective than he did last time he was a student.
@RickyWatters You sitting with the students during home games, perhaps doing push ups after scores? NBC would love it.
— Mike (@hugeirishfan) July 13, 2014
@RickyWatters yessir! I have the endurance! And I plan on us scoring a lot.
— Ricky Watters (@RickyWatters) July 14, 2014