NCAA Football

Jerome Bettis, Brian Urlacher on ‘dream come true' to see sons play for Notre Dame

Jerome Bettis Jr. and Kennedy Urlacher are set to represent the Fighting Irish beginning in 2024.

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The Bus is headed back to Notre Dame.

The Bus Jr., to be exact.

When the 2024 NCAA Football season rolls around, fans tuning into the Fighting Irish may recognize some familiar names stepping onto the field.

One such name is Jerome Bettis Jr., son of Hall of Fame running back Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, who is a Notre Dame alum.

Bettis Jr. announced his commitment to the school in March, with other offers including Texas A&M, Duke and Ole Miss, among others.

What makes Bettis Jr. an intriguing prospect? Here's how his dad evaluated him.

"He's a big receiver, he's got a very large catch radius," Bettis told NBC. "His speed is really good and that's a area of of importance for us. We're working on it this summer to get him a little bit faster. We want him to be able to make some of those big catches down the football field. He's got a great vertical. He can go up and get it and he's a hands catcher, so he's a really good receiver.

"I think his potential is off the charts. And so that's why I want to send him to a place that can develop him his skill set, because I think he has the potential to be really good. I don't know if he's going to be good as dad, but he has the potential to be really good."

So, why Notre Dame? Bettis explained why he thinks it's the right school for his son in multiple ways.

"You get a world class education and I think that's one of the reasons that all these dads, Plaxico Burress, his kid is committed and so you get all of these NFL guys that understand that, you know, you can have an incredible NFL career, but when you retire you you 33, 34, 35 years old, you've got a lot of life left in you and that degree is going to make a difference, right?" Bettis said.

"And so they understand that part, but they also understand you still get an incredible athletic opportunity in terms of, you know, doing everything that you dreamed of doing in terms of football," Bettis continued. "You go into a big college football program, they play the best schools in the country, you've got a chance to win a national championship. So all the things you want to do are all wrapped up in one school. And I think that's the allure of what Notre Dame can provide."

Perhaps the most important thing for Bettis is the possibility of seeing a dream come true. A Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowler, Bettis accomplished a whole lot and more as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

But getting to see his son follow in his footsteps and have the opportunity to walk out of the Notre Dame tunnel? That'd be something exceptional.

"You know, it'd be a dream come true," Bettis said. "Obviously, as a little kid, you know, you say, hey, I would love for him to grow up, be a football player and go to Notre Dame, have success there. Because I know how special a university it is. I want my son to come and play for the Fighting Irish, wear that gold helmet and have that success. Now that's just a dream as a father and to see that it potentially can come true, that's a special thought for me.

"So to be able to drive up there and to drop him off like my dad did for me, that would be the dream of a lifetime coming true."

Bettis Jr., however, isn't the only son of an NFL icon entering Notre Dame. Another such player is Kennedy Urlacher, son of Chicago Bears iconic linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Urlacher and Bettis definitely had their rows during their playing days, and the latter joked how his son will need to be wary in practice.

"I know, I think, I think Urlach is a defensive guy," Bettis said. "So I'm gonna tell my son, you better, better be careful. He may want to get a shot back to even a score."

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 11: Jerome Bettis #36 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs over Brian Urlacher #54 the Chicago Bears for a touchdown on December 11, 2005 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Bears 21-9. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

For Urlacher, who went to the University of New Mexico, he believes Notre Dame will be great for his son for non-footballing reasons.

"He's going to meet so many guys from different backgrounds," Urlacher told NBC. "...Notre Dame is unbelievable, backgrounds, ethnicities, everything there. Football is great, love football, but the other part is where I'm excited about for him."

Notre Dame will open the 2024 season on the road against Texas A&M on Aug. 31.

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