Loyalty test: Notre Dame’s Jack Kiser is from a Purdue family
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – His teammates call him “The Professor”, but small town legend Jack Kiser isn’t always so studious.
The third-year rover from little Royal Center, Indiana (pop. 833), specializes in business analysis and has plans for a post-football career in sports management, but his girlfriend since their senior year at the Class A Pioneer High School sees another side of its personality.
“Oh sure,” Meagan Chan said. “Whenever he’s not working on football or at school he’s super goofy – and that’s the best part about him.”
Kiser, the 2018 Indiana Mr. Football, has claimed a leading role in Notre Dame’s defense through hard work and preparation. But he also knows how to relax when the weather permits.
“He’s more of a chill-out type,” Chan said. “He really enjoys playing board games, watching movies and having fun with his friends. He’s really good at ‘Clue’. It’s his favorite board game.
Turning 21 on the eve of last week’s narrow victory over Toledo, Kiser was raised in the love of Purdue by an extended family with deep connections to college. Kiser’s mission this week is to hand Unclassified Boilermakers their first loss of the season.
“If you dig into my family history,” Kiser said recently, “I have a lot of golden and black blood in the pipeline.”
Aaron Kiser, his father and his uncle Brian Kiser were notable pitchers at Purdue in the discus and shot put. Several aunts went there as well as her older brother Sam.
A few cousins of Kiser are currently enrolled in West Lafayette, about 80 km southwest of Royal Center, as is Chan. Kiser was able to get 15 free tickets as a player, and his father bought 27 more for his friends and family.
“All of his family are going to be here so it will be a special day for him,” said Chan, a junior specializing in economics and finance. “I’m the only one who brings six or seven Purdue fans. We’re going to be in the stands with our Purdue gear.
This should make the family hatchback interesting.
“I was going to enter with a family ticket, but you have to wear Notre Dame [gear]Chan said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to stay with my friends.’ “
Bonnie Motter, Kiser’s grandmother, was secretary to the late Ara Parseghian for a long time after his retirement as Notre Dame football coach. At 79, the Elkhart, Indiana resident is recovering from a pair of recent hip surgeries and will not be able to attend.
The rest of the Kiser clan completely converted to the Shamrock Nation, including Sam, who could have walked in Butler but chose to continue the family tradition at Purdue as a regular student.
A 2020 graduate with a degree in Applied Statistics, Sam played in the same backfield with Jack in his brother’s freshman year at Pioneer.
“He was our leading running back and rushed for a ton of yards,” Sam said. “I remember the first game of the year, I scored a touchdown on a long run and he was was the first there to congratulate me. It was really cool and special for us.
Another wave of nostalgia is sure to unleash this Saturday as Jack gives a Purdue family a reason to put down roots against the Boilermakers. Indiana made a solid offer during the recruiting process, as did Iowa, but in the end, Kiser couldn’t say no to Notre Dame.
Chan, who faced her boyfriend for about 30 minutes most nights after training, wasn’t about to make him feel guilty.
“I wanted him to choose what was best for him,” Chan said. “We knew we would try to make it work anyway. ”
Older brother Bryce, who played defensive end at Illinois State from 2010 to 2014, has been a source of inspiration. Now it’s the baby of the family, aka Professor Goofy, who is due to destroy Purdue’s offensive on Saturday.
“It’s going to be just surreal,” said Jack Kiser. “I’ve already warned everyone if they were wearing Purdue clothes they wouldn’t be allowed in. I put my dad in charge of that.”