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April 3, 2012

Day makes strong first impression


Either Sheldon Day hasn’t had his welcome-to-college moment or he’s already blocked it out. Asked if he’d been victim to the initiation of an upperclassman pancake block during spring practice, Day blanked.

“I don’t think so, but I might have, I might have not,” Day laughed. “I don’t know.”

The best guess is Day has kept on his feet this semester as Notre Dame’s no-fuss early enrollee out of prep powerhouse Warren Central in Indianapolis. Day committed to the Irish last summer and never wavered. Now he’s working with the second team defensive line, even if injuries have helped elevate him.

Still, Day’s straight-forward approach to football has turned a few heads around South Bend already. While it’s not clear if the Irish will need the former four-star recruit to go this fall, he’s practicing and studying like it. Day is already taking a Notre Dame calculus class to help get into the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business.

Day hasn't had his welcome-to-college moment or has he?

“He’s way ahead of where we’d thought he would be in his technique and everything,” said defensive line coach Mike Elston. “He’s a solid, solid player right now. Just still being a senior in high school, he’s really showed some good technique.”

If Day’s acclimation into the depth chart has been a slight surprise, he’s submersion into Notre Dame has come with the standard ups and downs. He’s already made a couple trips home to catch his breath. His mother, Carol Boyd, has made the drive up US-31 too to help her son get comfortable.

Day is also rooming with Gunner Kiel, Notre Dame’s other remaining early enrollee, which the defensive end said has helped him get situated. He’s resisted reminding Kiel that he should have been named Indiana’s Player of the Year over the quarterback.

“When you have another early enrollee that comes in, I guess that makes the transition a little easier because you have somebody else to talk to,” Day said. “When you’re going through the slump they’re probably going through it too, you can talk to each other and work your way out of the slump.

“I feel like I shouldn’t look back, but sometimes when you’re in your slump you kind of look back and say, ‘Dang, I could have done this or I could have done that,’ but I’m looking forward, like a positive attitude. I feel I made the right decision (to enroll early).”

The 6-foot-2, 286-pound defensive lineman could give the Irish a swing player between end and nose guard down the road, but Day’s lessons start with the four technique on the outside. An outgoing honors student in high school, it appears Day is starting to let his personality trickle out too, even if he’s still getting settled.

“Sheldon Day is a character,” said Stephon Tuitt. “He’s a character. He’s a great player too as well. I see him learning the defense. He’s coming along as a player.”

As much as Day is playing catch-up to Tuitt and Aaron Lynch this spring, he does have the advantage of coming from a talent-rich high school program. Warren Central produced eight BCS conference signees last cycle after pumping out three the year prior. The Warriors upcoming senior class includes four-star linebacker Tim Kimbrough, who visited Notre Dame last weekend.

That local talent meant Day had an idea of the players he’d see in college before he actually got to college.

“I love it up here,” Day said. “It’s harder than what I thought. I came in with a positive attitude and I’ve still got my positive attitude and it’s just fun. Great experience.”


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