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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Regular-guy Crist ready for skeptics

Coming off injury and only four games at Notre Dame, he looks to fill Clausen's void.

August 24, 2010|Brian Hamilton

SOUTH BEND, IND. — At the Oaken Bucket, a quaint local haunt snuggled up next to the St. Joseph River, they call it the King Burger. It is one pound of Black Angus beef sitting on an eight-inch bun and slathered in cheddar cheese sauce. If you are five college kids known as Team Reckless, it is irresistible.

On one summer night, the challenge was obvious: Each would attempt to eat an entire King Burger. Because they were Notre Dame football players and because the patties were like thick meat Frisbees, they divided the burger into four quarters. And it began.

Dayne Crist is 6 feet 5, 235 pounds. He's not thin as much as strictly proportioned. But he watches the show "Man vs. Food," which is exactly what it sounds like. On a dare, he once nearly finished a gallon of chocolate ice cream in 30 minutes. He is, as one teammate said, a fat kid trapped in a skinny kid's body.

Against the burgers, four members of Team Reckless turned feckless. So two offensive linemen and two tight ends bore witness as the starting quarterback downed the last crumbs of beef and bun, and then wondered why there wasn't a house prize for overcoming odds that were, well, gastronomical.

"I was actually upset about that," Crist said. "Apparently they have nothing going on there. Which I said was ridiculous. My pride is all I have to walk away with, I guess."

He also has Notre Dame's future in his hands, national recognition for charitable off-field efforts, a torn knee ligament healed in less than eight months and a girlfriend whose favorite movie is "The Little Mermaid."

But he wants a trophy for eating a pound of meat.

So to answer the question: Yes, there is something wrong with Dayne Crist.

Some kind of regular guy

Awesome time working with the kids at the homeless center today, now off to knock out this first workout of the summer and get things goin

--dcrist10, Mon 07 Jun 13:57 via Twitter for iPhone

On a July afternoon, Crist, a two-year starter at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High, arrived early for an appointment at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, wearing red workout shorts and a black T-shirt. On the shirt's front, in large white lettering, was a slogan: "StaND Against Hate."

It was a week on campus dedicated to ending hate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Crist had a tough time remembering it. But then he has served McFlurrys to terminally ill children, worked with the homeless in San Jose, read to children in South Bend-area libraries and recruited 50-plus teammates to shave their heads in the name of childhood cancer research.

It all tends to blur together. Next thing you know, he will go to Africa to build libraries. No, really. He might do that.

Linebacker Manti Te'o labeled Crist "a perfect Notre Dame role model," noting he often bails out less eloquent teammates in meetings with recruits' parents, offering "those answers that you're just like, 'You're the golden boy.' "

One staffer, with affectionate sarcasm, referred to Crist as "Saint Dayne."

"Listen, I'm just a regular guy, just like everyone else," Crist said, shaking his head at those appraisals. "I make mistakes. I'm human. I fail at all sorts of things. It's flattering. But I'm sure they were more joking than anything else. I'm just a normal kid."

Notre Dame needs more regular. If the blue-collar ethos of first-year Coach Brian Kelly is to burrow into the program's soul, the Irish need more normal. And normal is Tim and Karen Crist, living in the same house in Canoga Park for 24 years, the home into which they brought their first son Dayne after he left the hospital.

Regular is Tim Crist starting out as a security guard at Warner Bros. and climbing the ladder to director of security. It's two parents working to push two kids through private school. It's schlepping to countless football camps, without a personal quarterback tutor.

"He's not a kid who has been given a golden spoon in his mouth his whole life," center Braxston Cave said. "He has had to work for what he has. And he's making it happen."

Said Crist: "I'm very big on hard work. My parents both worked incredibly hard their entire life to sacrifice and provide the things my brother and I have been able to have. Seeing how hard they work on a daily basis definitely rubbed off."

Regular is also 3 a.m. phone calls that wake parents in a panic. Karen Crist answered such a call, and the police were on the line. They had her son.

Dayne Crist and his high school friends were out past curfew. The Crists drove over, retrieved Dayne in deafening silence and ignored his pleas to pick up his truck at a friend's house.

The end.

"Seriously, that was the worst thing that probably ever happened," Karen Crist said. "But he did exactly what kids at 17 years old do. And that was the worst thing he ever did."

Really, who does this guy think he is?

Overcoming adversity

Point out the biggest skeptic and I'll make em a believer

--dcrist10, Tue 06 Jul 15:30 via Twitter for iPhone

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