Barret Liebentritt realizes he’s probably better suited to be a fullback than a linebacker at the next level.
“But nobody uses a fullback anymore,” he joked.
One thing’s for certain, though: college football programs search for dedicated student-athletes who love contact. And Liebentritt, who started both ways at fullback and middle linebacker for Omaha Skutt Catholic this past fall, brings the boom.
He’s hoping to do just that at the University of Notre Dame, where he recently got accepted into school and will join the football team as a walk-on.
“I’ve always liked mixing things up and getting to hit people, that’s kind of why I love football,” he said. “Fullback kind of fits me well because you’re hitting people, and it’s kind of the same thing at linebacker where you’re flying around and making plays and hitting people hard.”
Liebentritt led Skutt’s defense with 76 tackles. He had three games where he notched double-digit stops, including a season-high 13 coming in a win over Bennington. He was also the team’s second-leading rusher with 604 yards and eight touchdowns.
Like many kids wanting to play college football, Liebentritt, who also played basketball and is a current member of the golf team, struggled to get exposure this past year. He suffered a back injury as a sophomore, which held him out of competing in summer camps. Then Covid wiped out the entire camp circuit for everyone last year.
Education is important to Liebentritt — he scored a 34 on his ACT — so he wanted to attend a school known for its academic prestige while also playing football as a walk-on. He had conversations with the coaching staffs at Stanford and Northwestern, but deep down, he was always a Husker fan.
But sometimes, adversity hits.
“It was tough because I had always thought, ‘Hey, I want to go to Nebraska,” but they have tons of kids already walking on,” Liebentritt said, “so they didn’t really have room for me or weren’t interested, so that was a little tough.”
Liebentritt’s journey didn’t stop there, though. He sent his film out to other schools and got a response from one that he had a few calls with late last year — Notre Dame.
“Back in November I was talking with some of their recruiting guys and had a few phone calls,” Liebentritt said. “Then one day they called and said, “Hey, we’re going to offer you a spot and you can walk on, you just have to get into school.’ So it was contingent on getting into school.”
Excited by the opportunity, Liebentritt applied to Notre Dame and went through the admission process, which was more difficult than he originally expected, he said. It took some time.
But last week Liebentritt got the call he has waiting for — he’d been accepted. It was a proud moment for him and his family.
“I was super excited when they told me, I was jacked,” Liebentritt said. “It was good to get that under my belt, because I hadn’t got a lot of attention from other schools, just with Covid and the injury before. It was just tough to get my name out there.
“So it’s super exciting to have an opportunity as big as this, especially from a place like Notre Dame, a brand-name school. It’s just awesome.”
There’s no sugar-coating it — the life of a walk-on isn’t easy. The 6-foot, 210-pound Liebentritt knows that. He’s set some goals for himself, like first trying to be a contributor on special teams. If he can do that, maybe he makes the Fighting Irish travel roster.
“From there, you just have to try moving up the depth chart while living that walk-on life,” he said. “Slowing working up and up. I feel like I’m a late grower, I’ve been playing three sports all through high school, so I haven’t had time to really focus solely on football.”
Liebentritt is thinking about going into pre-med and being a Biology major at Notre Dame. The dream job right now is an orthopedic surgeon.
“I’m super excited about this, it’s a great school,” he said. “That’s obviously a big factor, getting a great education.”