Brian Kelly gives props to sophomore DE Sheldon Day
BY LaMOND POPE Sun-Times Media August 14, 2013 9:06PM
Purdue v Notre Dame
Updated: August 14, 2013 10:23PM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Nose guard Louis Nix III appeared on more 2013 preseason watch lists than any other Notre Dame football player.
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is coming off an All-American season that featured 47 tackles and team highs in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (12).
But another member of the Irish’s defensive line — Sheldon Day — has caught coach Brian Kelly’s attention.
“I know all the talk is about Nix and Tuitt, but I tell you, Sheldon Day, just watch the film. His first-step quickness. He’s an impressive football player,” Kelly said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anybody on our football team. He is as impressive of a player as we have on defense.”
That’s high praise for the 6-2, 290-pound sophomore end from Indianapolis. This is, after all, a defense loaded with experience.
Kelly has been most impressed with Day’s endurance.
“If there is an eight-play drive, he does not come out of the game,” Kelly said. “He’s the one that does not come out of the game.”
Day played in all 13 games last year and had 23 tackles, three of which came in the BCS national title game loss to Alabama.
“His work volume, his ability to go, his pass-rush ability,” Kelly said, “he’s an outstanding football player.”
Day also had two sacks during his freshman season. He credits the coaching staff with helping him make gains in getting off the blocks.
“[Defensive line] coach [Mike] Elston did a great job with me in the spring working on my fundamentals and working on my throw-offs. I give all the praise to coach Elston,” Day said.
Day’s responsibilities will increase following the loss of Kapron Lewis-Moore. Lewis-Moore had 40 tackles, 8½ tackles for loss and six sacks last season.
“It’s an exciting role to take on,” Day said, “just knowing that people are counting on you to perform excites you.”
Day said he picked up a lot from Lewis-Moore, a 2012 co-captain who played in 45 games at Notre Dame, including 42 starts.
Despite Lewis-Moore’s departure, several preseason publications rank the Irish’s defensive line in the top five nationally. Day won’t feel any extra pressure to deliver.
“We really don’t focus on that,” Day said. “We focus on ourselves and moving our games forward each and every day.”