Don't tell Anthony Rabasa that the Sun Bowl isn't a big game. Since it was announced that the Irish would play the Hurricanes in the Sun Bowl, the Notre Dame commitment's ears have been bombarded with chatter from his friends.
"There's been a lot of trash talking going on around here with all my buddies being Miami fans," Rabasa said. "I thought the first time that we'd play them would be my sophomore year, but I guess this will be a preview for the 2012 game in Soldier Field.
"Miami has good athletes from South Florida. They've had some struggles with the quarterback position and then they fired Randy Shannon. It's been tough down there, but It's a great team, with great athletes and they're going to make plays. They're going through some stuff down there, but it's a team that you can't take lightly, because they do have a lot of talent.
"Notre Dame needs to focus and play hard-nosed football, because that's what Miami is about," he said. "They have big guys, speed… we're going to have our work cut out for us. But in the end, Notre Dame will come out with the victory.
"We're a top-notch program and we have athletes just like everybody else. We have our athletes and we have our playmakers as well. I'm pretty excited to for what's about to happen on (December) 31. I know Notre Dame is going to win. I'm very confident of that."
While Anthony is confident that the Irish are going to pull out a win against Miami, it wasn't always easy for a guy in South Florida to have confidence in the Irish considering the struggles they had throughout the season.
"The Tulsa game was a tough weekend for the guys," Rabasa explained. "Coming into Tulsa, losing that game and losing Aaron Lynch that weekend… it was tough. The season was looking pretty rough at that point, but then went on a roll. They picked up their game and played excellent football. I'm glad it ended up the way it ended.
"Deep down I knew it would be tough in Brian Kelly's first year, and everyone getting used to his system. I understand that it's a process and I thought it went great and I'm excited about what's going on up there."
A big reason for Rabasa to be excited is the play of the Notre Dame defense. The Irish defense surrendered just one touchdown over the last 15 quarters of the season.
"I love the way coach Diaco has them playing right now," he said. "It's a great scheme. It's fast-paced, the way we play down here. I'm accustomed to that kind of system and I think I can make a huge impact coming off the edge. I'm excited about playing that role and I think I can help them out."
When it gets late in the recruiting year, there is always some concern that some players might be tempted to look at other schools. That isn't the case with Rabasa. He took his official visit to Notre Dame at the beginning of December and firm with his commitment.
"I had a great time with my parents, the coaches, and some of the players," he recalled. "I wasn't really trying to find anything out about Notre Dame. I know a lot about the school already. I love it and that's obviously why I committed. I was up there having a good time with the players and getting closer to some of the people that I'm going to be teammates with next year.
"My parents loved it. That's the place they wanted me to go since the beginning, so they're really excited. My mom was crying the whole weekend.
"It snowed when I was up there, and that was the first time I've seen snow," he said. "I liked it. It's a change of scenery. I've been living down here in Miami for 18 years. I'm going to have a whole new lifestyle and I'm excited to do that. I want to get away from Miami for awhile, and I'm excited to get up there.
"It was a great weekend… I'm all Irish."
Rabasa Likes the Irish
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