Dunford: Coach Weis offered you a scholarship under the condition that you had to improve your grades. How have you been improving your grades?
Mullen: I’ve just been coming home every day and getting in a routine. I’ve been starting with the most difficult assignment, or the hardest part, and completing it. I’ve not been just getting it done for the sake of getting it done. Rather, I’ve been putting in a lot more time and effort into it. In the classroom, well, I’ve been participating more. I see all of this as helping me become prepared for a place like Notre Dame. That’s why I do it.
Dunford: What would you like to do after you graduate?
Mullen: Something with business law or business marketing. I’m a taking a class right now that I’m really interested in. It’s funny, I’ve always wanted to be an architect, but this class has got me thinking about business marketing. My father works for Anheuser Busch, and his job involves a lot of marketing and promotions, so I have really been paying attention to what he does. I have also always dreamed of playing in professional football in the NFL, but if that doesn’t work out, with a degree from Notre Dame, that’s known nation-wide, even world-wide, the skies the limit.
Dunford: What is your favorite band? Why?
Mullen: I listen to mostly rap. My sister listens to it and I always listened to the next thing that she listened to. I also like alternative rock, like Ben Folds Five. They talk about things in life--their lyrics are really cool. I would say my favorite song is “Brick.” It’s about a couple that just had an abortion and the effects of the abortion on their lives. It’s also about what led up to the abortion and how they lived after it. I like music with great lyrics. It’s not just about the beat.
Dunford: How would your friends describe your personality?
Mullen: Pretty spontaneous. I have a lot of energy, and I really enjoy meeting new people and talking to people. I also consider myself very honest. Coach Weis was so honest with me when I met him and that struck me as such a good thing. He tells you what he thinks.
Dunford: Other than football, what things do you like to do in your free time?
Mullen: Basketball. I’ve been playing basketball all my life, and when I was in seventh and eighth grade, I wanted to play basketball. Last year was the first year since preschool that didn’t play basketball. I used to play for a traveling team around here and actually went to nationals. Then I stopped growing. Plus, I realized that 6-4 doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s when I started playing football and fell in love with the sport. It’s such an awesome sport. Other than basketball, I guess I enjoy hanging out with my friends because in a year and a half we will all be going off to college, so we won’t se each other that frequently.
Dunford: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Mullen: Hopefully in the NFL and happily married. I just want to be a great father, a successful businessman, and just build as many relationships as possible.
Dunford: What’s the most challenging thing about being a “big-time” recruit?
Mullen: Well, I found myself at times not listening to myself, but instead listening to what others said and where they wanted me to go. That’s when I had to re-evaluate what I wanted and what I was doing. Also, to be honest with you, it did get annoying. I ended it (recruiting) sooner than what a lot of people thought, but I’m happy with my choice.
Dunford: There seems to be more and more recruits committing early? Why do you think it is so?
Mullen: There’s more pressure than in the past. It’s like a business. My first offer came in mid-January from Nebraska. After that the word spread, and soon, I began hearing from numerous colleges.
Dunford: How close are you and Munir Prince?
Mullen: Extremely close, and I would say we’ve become closer throughout this whole recruiting process. Munir actually transferred from Florida up to our school during his freshman year. Before he was even here we heard a lot about how good this kid was and coming in some people thought this guy was going to be this huge hot-head. But he’s just the opposite. He actually helped get me into a routine. He worries a lot, and I’ve helped him with that. I’ve taken trips with him and his father and he has done the same with my father. I definitely have to say that it’s going to be a big-time privilege and honor to play with him at Notre Dame.
Dunford: What will Notre Dame’s record be next year?
Mullen: I see it at 9-3 or 10-2. I really think they can do it, I really do. Michigan and USC will be a run for their money, and I think they need to be ready for Washington, too. You can be sure they will come ready to play for sure.
Dunford: You have played multiple positions in high school. What position is the hardest to play? Why?
Mullen: I think tight end is pretty tough--all the different routes you have to learn, and then you have to make reads on the linebackers. It’s tougher than defensive end. At defensive end you get to the ball and sack the quarterback.
Dunford: What position will you play at Notre Dame?
Mullen: Probably tight end, but the coaches say that wherever I compete the best, I will play. But I would say that tight end is looking more on the up and up than defensive end.
Dunford: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
Mullen: Probably my mother. She is the vice president of a company, works full time, and has raised five kids. How she balances everything is amazing. Sometimes she travels for one to two days, comes back, and balances everything. She’s a great role model. She really is.
Dunford: What is your favorite subject? Why?
Mullen: History. I’m studying American history this year and I really enjoy it. I like learning about the different wars, and I have a great teacher as well.
Dunford: What NFL player do you enjoy watching the most? Why?
Mullen: Antonio Gates and Toney Gonzalez. How Tony Gonzalez played basketball and football in college is just awesome. I also think that Tony Gonzalez has a certain charisma and leadership out on the field that I can see myself doing in the next couple of years.
Dunford: Was Notre Dame recruiting you last year?
Mullen: No, not at all. It was actually coach Cutcliffe that called my coach and said that he saw tape and was going to be very interested in recruiting me. That’s when I decided to go down there for a visit. Then when I was there coach Weis called me over and hinted that he was going to offer me a scholarship. It was such an honor to receive an offer from Notre Dame. They have everything there--the academics, tradition, family…
Dunford: So you received no mail from them last year? If not, did you even see yourself going there?
Mullen: I received no mail at all from them. I’ve been a huge Notre Dame fan my whole so I always wanted to go there, but I never really thought I would get the opportunity to play there and play underneath coach Weis. It’s such a privilege. I’m really counting the days
Dunford: If you were going to teach a class on something, what would you teach it on? What are you knowledgeable about?
Mullen: I think personality. Building on that, I would teach about growing up a how it’s important to make friends and not enemies. I’m also a pretty inspirational speaker, I would have to say.
Dunford: Do you communicate with other commits?
Mullen: I communicate with Zach Frazer quite a bit through e-mail. He seems like a great leader already and he hasn’t even played his senior season yet. He’s said something about meeting up in the summer with the other recruits. I think it would be a great idea.
Dunford: Are you going the Notre Dame Football Camp?
Mullen: I don’t believe so. I promised my coach that I’d work my butt off for next year. I’ll probably go to place called Velocity and do some power lifting and speed work. They are the whole deal and have gotten some great reviews.
Dunford: Many people consider the quarterback to be the most important position on the field offensively. What defensive position do you feel is the most important? Why?
Mullen: Probably middle linebacker. They are the leader in huddle and on the field. They have to know all the offensive formations and reads.
Dunford: Have you been recruiting any players to Notre Dame?
Mullen: I’ve sent a couple of e-mails to Toryan Smith and Luke Schmidt about coming to Notre Dame and helping to build a national championship team. They are some great athletes that ND needs. Toryan Smith wrote back saying thanks for the mail and to keep in touch, but I haven’t actually met him.
Dunford: What are your goals this year?
Mullen: Probably to score 15 touchdowns and have eight to twelve hundred yards receiving. I’d also like to break the school sack record. It’s 14 right now, but I’d like to get between 15-18 sacks. Last year my hand was broken so I really could play defense, but it’s all healed now, and I can’t wait.