Stevenson Looking to Dominate

<P>I've always thought that the best players start to emerge as a true sophomore. Some skills position players might play sooner but usually the players who are going to play a lot of football for Notre Dame start to make an impact in their sophomore year. Dan Stevenson looks to be one of those players. Stevenson started to see a lot of playing time his sophomore year and attitude probably has a lot to do with it. </P>

Dan Stevenson has always been a physical player. He likes nothing better than to smack an opposing player across the line of scrimmage and he hates to sit the bench. "You sit the bench the whole time your freshman year and I hated it. Obviously I was excited to get out there and prove myself. Any chance I got to get out there; I just wanted to make the best of it. Go out and play hard and mix it up the best I could."

Stevenson is known as a nasty player. He's a guy who just won't quit and will keeping pushing and fighting until the whistle blows and sometimes after the whistle. Stevenson believes that is the only way to play this game. "I think you have to have that attitude," said Stevenson. "I don't think you can play the game any other way. I think that is what got me on the field as a high school player and as a college player and that is just me and the way I play. I'm a competitor and I don't want to let anyone beat me. I want that guy to know that I am coming all day."

The Irish have a lot of young offensive linemen learning the positions right now. Do any of these young guys have that same nasty attitude? "It's hard to say right now. I think a lot of them are still trying to learn their plays and their technique. Playing nasty is almost kind of a comfort level for most people. Some people like Jeff Faine is just that way and I like to think of myself as the same type of player. Normally for most people to come out and play dominate is kind of a comfort thing and I think the young guys really just need to get more comfortable to break out of their shell."

Four of the inexperienced players trying to get comfortable are guards Mark LeVoir and Darrin Mitchell and centers Zach Giles and Bob Morton. Two of these players will likely be starting in the fall and Stevenson says they are starting to get up to speed with the other starters. "Things are starting to come together. Just being able to go out there and play a lot will make them comfortable. All of them are making tremendous strides since the fall of last year. A lot of them are starting to do some real positive things, it's just a matter of picking up the little things they mess up on."

Stevenson started the year as an offensive guard. He was moved to tackle for the bowl game and it appears he will be staying at right tackle next year. "The only thing that is real different is pass protection. I think run blocking at any position you play is a matter of domination, getting out there, putting your head down and going after somebody. Pass protection is different, there is a lot more space to work in and you are kind of on an island out there. I like to think I'm a versatile player so going out and playing tackle is no big deal to me. I think I'm a good enough athlete to play both but I didn't find a huge difference between the two positions. It doesn't really matter to me which position I play as long as I'm out there."

Stevenson knows that this offensive line will have to come together quickly and he sees himself as a leader on the team. A lot of blame was placed on the offensive line last year and he wants this line to dominate because he was tired of hearing the criticism. "That's a big thing I tried to talk to the line about, especially the younger guys. I didn't even start last year but I played a lot and that really got me fired up and put a chip on my shoulder. I go out there every day and I try to preach to the younger guys that I don't care what the reporters say about us as long as they say we go out there and play hard. I just trying to get everyone fired up and to go out there and dominate kids and go out and really play with some heart."

The best thing I can say about Stevenson is he is confident and he doesn't back down from a challenge. I was told that he might not be able to do this interview because he had been getting sick on the field battling stomach flu. He kept on practicing during the practice. Stevenson was given the opportunity to do the interview another day but shrugged it off as not a big inconvenience.

Attitude has gotten Stevenson on the field and the same attitude will likely make him a great player at Notre Dame.


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