Defense leans on Day
Notre Dame sophomore defensive end impresses Kelly
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- With Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III drawing all the preseason accolades, another defensive lineman has caught the attention of Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.
Kelly said sophomore end Sheldon Day has looked especially sharp as the team heads into its second week of fall practice.
"I wouldn't trade him for anybody on this football team," Kelly said Monday. "His first-step quickness, he's an impressive football player. His motor, right now if there's an eight-play drive, he's the guy who does not come out of the game."
Day saw significant playing time last year as a freshman behind Kapron Lewis-Moore, who graduated and was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. This season he's penciled in as a starter.
Day credited Tuitt and Nix for helping him develop his game and Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo for getting him in shape.
"I've really been working on my conditioning and my strength gain, and just trying to stay focused and get ready for the season," Day said.
He said Tuitt and Nix are "great leaders and they're really helping me move my game forward."
He also credit Lewis-Moore with showing him the ropes. "He showed me the ins and outs of it, when to be quiet and when to talk," Day said.
While much is expected from the Irish front seven, the secondary will also be more seasoned, anchored by senior cornerback Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell, a sophomore who converted to corner from running back last season.
Not far behind Russell on the depth chart at corner is senior Lo Wood, who returns after a season-ending Achilles injury in preseason practice last year.
Junior Mathias Farley returns as a projected starter at safety.
Kelly confirmed sophomore Nicky Baratti dislocated his shoulder Saturday and is out for the season. Baratti had been competing with senior Austin Collinsworth and sophomore Elijah Shumate for the other safety spot.
"We've got a lot of depth, a lot of experience and a lot of confidence this year," Russell said. "Everybody knows our D-line is going to be, if not the best, one of the best in the country. Those guys are insane freaks in the front. But we believe we're a championship defensive back corps. Last year was kind of, we're going in to play. Now we're going in to dominate."