ND coach Brian Kelly loves Prince Shembo’s work ethic, toughness, passion
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media August 23, 2013 9:24PM
BYU v Notre Dame
Updated: September 25, 2013 6:12AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — This was linebacker Prince Shembo’s offseason to-do list:
◆ Improve as a pass rusher.
◆ Continue to make progress as a run defender.
◆ Get in better shape.
“If you can never get tired and they get tired, you can take advantage of that,” Shembo said.
Shembo wore out the opposition in 2012, finishing with 51 tackles, 10½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks.
Coach Brian Kelly thinks Shembo is an overlooked member of the Irish’s defense.
“I think you guys are missing the boat on Prince Shembo,” Kelly said. “The way he plays, the passion that he plays the game every single play, it’s just so enjoyable. He’s a throwback in a lot of ways with his energy and his toughness and the way he comes to work every day. It’s 100 percent all in. And he plays the game with that chip where, ‘I’m going do whatever is necessary on this play to be disruptive.’
“You’ve almost got to take his helmet away from him. I love those guys.”
The 6-1, 258-pound Shembo said his approach comes from his parents. His father, Maurice, moved to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1986.
“It started when I was young,” Shembo said. “The way I carry myself started with my dad saying, ‘When they go out there, they’re going to try to hurt you, so you’ve got to hurt them before they hurt you.’ I’ve been thinking like that ever since. Just always continuously working hard. My parents work hard, I see how they work, so I try to live my life like that. Never be satisfied and always try to get better every day. That’s how I live my life.”
Shembo played in all 13 games and had 15 tackles and 4½ sacks as a freshman in 2010. The next year, he finished with 31 tackles and two sacks.
Last year, he finished second on the team in sacks and tackles for loss.
Shembo earned preseason recognition, gaining a spot on the Chuck Bednarik Award preseason watch list. The award is given to the college football defensive player of the year.
“Prince Shembo is the heart and soul of that front,” assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Bob Diaco said. “Whether he’s the most imposing on a play-in, play-out basis, every time I’m with him in preparation, there’s not a guy in the unit that has been more consistent with demeanor, attitude, intensity, attack and knowledge.”
Shembo showed his disruptive nature last year against Boston College when he had three sacks. He cost the Eagles 29 yards with four tackles for loss. He also recovered a fumble.
“He just brings an energy to the team, a toughness to the team, and he’s so skilled at coming off the edge, too,” Kelly said. “He doesn’t lead vocally. He’s a guy that’s not going to say much but just his energy, his passion and his actions out on the field and the way he works. You can see just by his uniform — it’s drenched every day — the work he puts in.”
Technique-wise, Shembo has worked on visualizing what the offensive linemen are doing and trying to get them to shift their momentum.
“Everything is starting to feel more comfortable,” Shembo said. “Especially from when I first got here to now. But I’m still working. I can’t be satisfied. That’s not how I operate. I just have to continue to work.”