WOODBERRY FOREST — As a young hockey player in Quebec, Armel Moucam grew up dreaming of playing college hockey at Notre Dame.
Although his original plan to get on the ice for the Fighting Irish didn’t work out, Mukam’s unique athletic journey would lead him to South Bend anyway. The Woodberry Forest linebacker has verbally committed to play football at Notre Dame.
Moucam grew up playing hockey, handball and soccer in Quebec and even competed in several triathlons. As a sophomore, after some persuasion from his high school coach in Canada, Mookham joined the football team and played a few games at tight end before transferring to Woodberry Forest.
Over the past two years, he has transitioned to the defensive side of the ball and become one of the top pass rushers in the country. Last fall, the Montreal native tallied 48 tackles, including 10 for a loss, and posted a team-high five sacks to lead the Tigers home to all-state honors in the Prep League and VISAA Division I.
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College coaches took notice of Mukam’s talent and ability and flocked to inquire about him and his interest in their programs. He received offers from more than a dozen Division I programs last year, including California, Stanford, Virginia, Colorado, Duke, Harvard, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
He verbally committed to Stanford in June after an official visit to Palo Alto. Two months later, Mukham decided to change his allegiance and join the Fighting Irish.
“Stanford is in California, which is a long way from home,” Muckam said. “With Notre Dame being an independent, I won’t have to worry about teams leaving our conference. Also, it allows them to choose who they want to include in their schedule. In general, Notre Dame suited me better.”
Mukam resigned himself to his decision.
“I mean, it’s Notre Dame. What’s not to like about the program,” said Mukam. “The culture and especially the mindset of the players and coaches is something that really impressed me.”
The Woodberry Forest senior is expected to compete for playing time in front of coach Marcus Freeman. He is projected to play as a leader in the Irish’s 3-4 scheme.
“The coaches really have a plan for me,” Mukham said. “They see me as a five, but they say it all depends on how my body grows when I get there. They don’t want to force my body to do something it can’t do.”
Academically, Mukam plans to major in finance. His ultimate goal is to play in the National Football League, but if that doesn’t work out, he would like to own his own international business firm.
“My goal is to make it to the NFL,” Muckam said. “I will do everything in my power to make it happen. The good thing about Notre Dame is that it will give me the opportunity and the platform to do that. Being an athlete in college is not easy. It just means I have to work harder.”
Playing college football in the Midwest is also advantageous geographically because it will allow Murkham’s family and friends to come and see him play in person.
“Throughout the recruiting process, all I was looking for was a place where they were going to have top-level football and an education,” he said. “Education was very important to me because I know football is going to come and go whether I like it or not and I need to do something with my life when it does. I want to major in finance and notre dame business school is #4 in the country. Additionally, the Notre Dame football program is extremely prestigious. Challenges await me on and off the field. I grew up with snow and playing hockey, so going to Notre Dame immediately felt like home.”
Woodberry Forest is off to a 2-1 start this season after last week’s win over Georgetown Prep. Murkam is excited about the rest of the season and his future with the Fighting Irish.
“When I first came to the United States, my goal was to play Division I football, but I never envisioned Notre Dame,” he said. “God has been good to me. I am very happy and take nothing for granted. This is just the beginning of my journey. Going to Notre Dame will be tough academically and on the football field, and that’s exactly what I need to become the best version of myself.”