Irish Back in Action as ESPN Visits

<P>Notre Dame had a beautiful but windy day of practice on Tuesday as ESPN walked the sidelines. The cable television station picked the Irish as one of the five schools they were doing segments on for spring football. The presence of ESPN didn't seem to matter much to the Irish or Willingham. </P>

Willingham said practice Tuesday's practice was just a normal practice. "That didn't distract away from what we set out to do. Our practice was well-scripted and well-planned out before there was any idea that those guys would make us one of their five places they were interested in."

There Irish were certainly spirited today and Willingham is pleased with how the spring is going so far. "I think we're moving in the right direction with all that we want to accomplish but we still have a lot to do. These next three practices will really offer us some good opportunities to gain in that area. We've done some great things already, I think we're pleased with certain things that have happened but there are still a lot of areas that we want some good, solid, concentrated work to take place in the next three days."

Willingham lost some solid leaders last year is Shane Walton and Gerome Sapp. He was asked if he is pleased with the leaders that are stepping forward on his team. "It's still developing," said Willingham. "I think obviously there are some guys that we knew were in leadership roles. You talk about the Vontez Duff's, you talk about the Courtney Watson's, you talk about the Glenn Earl's, their roles have already been there. I think they're doing a solid job of living up to expectation there but we need more than that. You talk about the Hoyte's growing up and becoming of age and the consistency of the Darrell Campbell's and the Cedric Hilliard's. We've got the same thing on offense. You've got the Omar Jenkins', you've got the Carlyle Holiday's, Milligan, Molinaro, guys that are in that leadership place already but we need more guys. Stevenson is one of those that is beginning to emerge and step up so we need more guys of that nature."

Jared Clark started to make an impact at the end of the season catching four passes in the bowl game. Clark struggled last year with blocking after switching to tight end from his quarterback position. He has said he needs to be a complete player and Willingham said he is starting to become one. "I think he's working to get there," said Willingham. "Obviously we want more. Obviously he wants more so together we can get more. I think he's made a lot of progress and it's exciting to see him be as diligent a worker in that area as we need him to be to make the progress. I think Jared is learning like everyone else does. It takes a great deal of technique to be good at anything and once you master that technique then that job gets a lot easier."

One player who is really starting to emerge is Greg Pauly. Pauly has improved so much that his play has allowed Darrell Campbell to play some at defensive end. This give the Irish flexibility to move players around and hopefully keep their players fresh during the year. Willingham is excited about Greg Pauly and said Greg should look at this as a compliment. "We're hoping Greg is a big part of the defense and I think he has done a great job of physically getting himself prepared to do that and also learning and growing on the field. H should look at it as a compliment, he should look as an honor that he's deserved and he should look at it as we always do with our football team, trying to get our best players on the field."

Justin Tuck was dressed today in full pads just like the rest of the team. Willingham was asked if he is getting closer to being back to full speed. "I think we took him a little further today but I think it will still be a couple of days before he's ready to go." That is obviously good news for the Irish.

Irish Notes

Mike Goolsby was wearing a shoulder sling at practice. He hadn't been wearing that in previous practices. It appears he may have re-injured or had a setback with his shoulder.

Mark LeVoir also has been hurting lately. He didn't participate in the linemen drills on Tuesday and worked out on the sidelines with the other injured players.

Gary Godsey caught some passes with the tight ends today but remained sidelined with his knee injury.

James Bonelli also remains sidelined with an ankle injury. Top Stories