Today we continue our look at players whose name you should get ready to know in 2013 because they very well could be difference makers this fall for Notre Dame. First on our list was speedy sophomore wide receiver Chris Brown. Today we turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball.
As the 2013 season approaches names like Jaylon Smith, Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo, and Louis Nix have the Irish faithful excited about the potential of the 2013 Notre Dame defensive line. One name that may have been lost in the mix a bit is that of Sheldon Day, a sophomore who stands at 6’2” 286 lbs, and played in all 13 games last year. The Irish coaching staff is looking at Day as the heir-apparent to Kapron Lewis-Moore at defensive end, as Day the has the ability to be a disrupter off the end, and have a major impact on stopping the opponents rushing attack.
In 2012, Day showed glimpses of what he is capable of doing, and it was enough to get Irish fans and staff excited. While there isn’t necessarily a defining moment in Day’s highlight reel from last season, there is a defining word, and that word is consistency. Seeing action in all 13 games for the Irish, Day compiled 23 tackles. 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.
Day showed an ability to shed blocks, knock down passes, and stop the run, and he should only continue to refine his craft and grow as player and leader on and off the field in 2013. Having Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix on the same line will help Day tremendously, and while he may not have quite the same impact in the backfield as Nix and Tuitt, he should help keep the Irish run defense amongst the elite this year.
A local product out of Indianapolis, Day had a long list of suitors knocking on the door, and a tough decision ahead as to where he would play collegiate ball. Programs like LSU, Florida, Michigan, Stanford, and Wisconsin were just a few of the schools interested in his services. When asked what it is was about Notre Dame that stood out and why he chose them, Day replied with the following:
“It was the academics, great football, and (defensive line) Coach (Mike) Elston and Coach (Brian) Kelly and the whole entire staff,”
In his senior season at Warren Central in Indianapolis, Day had 67 tackles, (11 for losses), 9 interceptions, and 2 fumble recoveries. While at Warren Central, Day was runner-up for 2011 Indiana Mr. Football award as chosen by Indiana Football Coaches Association, and also AP all-state honorable mention. Day also went on to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Phoenix that same year.
While having a frame that may not be ideal for the position, Day more than makes up for it with a high football I.Q., and a motor that never quits. Defensive coach Bob Diaco talked about Day with a pure reverence, stating that you need to be around this kid to understand who he is, and what he is all about. Diaco described Day as kid who just understands the game, what the coaches want out of him, and it’s evidenced with his early success on the field.
It’s no secret that Day will need to add some strength to contend with older and more experienced opponents throughout the year, but according to reports Day has spent the off-season trying to do just that. Day understands the game well at this early stage in his career, and should have a major impact on the Irish defensive unit in 2013.