Decker focused on the present

Notre Dame pledge Taylor Decker is focused on the now and not worrying too much about his college future. After his team's final scrimmage of the pre-season, we spoke with Decker about his senior year and more.

Unlike many of the top high school football players from across the country, Taylor Decker already knows his recruitment is over. Giving his pledge to Notre Dame in March has allowed the 6-foot-8, 300-pound offensive lineman to worry about his final year of high school.

"Things are going really well," said Decker. "This week we weren't really doing two-a-days, we were lifting and doing special teams work and half-shells in the morning, and sometimes watching film. So we were only there for about two hours.

"Now this week we'll be coming in and lifting and running in the morning, but then have our regular practice in the afternoon."

With Vandalia (Ohio) Butler building a new high school, Decker and his classmates are getting a late start to the school year. In fact, the 2011 season's first game precedes the senior's first class.

"For us school starts the 30th," said Decker. "They're finishing up building the new school right now so we're going to have a day to rest instead of being in school all day for our first game."

How does Decker feel his team has progressed so far in camp?

"I thought we worked really hard," said Decker. "I feel it was the best camp I have ever been a part of. We're working really hard and trying to stay humble as last year. We started strong in scrimmages and our first game but ended up bombing.

"I know as one of the captains, we're just trying to keep our team humble as we've not even won a game yet this season. I feel if we keep working hard and playing hard every game, and play to our potential we'll have a special season."

Additional pressures

One thing Decker learned on Friday night is people now know who #68 is behind the facemask.

Does he feel any pressure from the attention he's received?

"I know people are watching me," said Decker. "I know what I'm capable of doing and I'm confident I'm going to get my job done. I know people are watching me and I have to be on my "A" game as I'm always going to get the best of every defensive linemen I go up against. I know people know who I am more and are watching me more because I had offers and committed to Notre Dame, but I won't say I feel pressure."

One area Decker feels there is pressure is the goals set by him and his fellow senior teammates.

"I've been thinking this is the last go around with all of my friends and teammates," said Decker "I've played with these guys my whole life and now it is almost over. I know I want to send all of my friends out right and I'm sure this is a mutual feeling among all of us.

"We really want to turn this program around and we know people in our community feel we can win, but we also know there are people out there who doubt us. I feel there is pressure there, but we'll just keep it within the team and handle it."

Is Decker happy to not be in the middle stages of his recruitment?

"I don't know if it would be overwhelming," said Decker. "I'm sure my coaches would have helped me handle it if I still was. But it is nice to only focus on getting better and helping my team win instead of worrying about recruiting.

"I know with me already knowing the school I wanted to go to and going ahead and committing was big. Especially for a high school kid going into his last year of school trying to balance school, football and recruiting, it would be a lot to handle. I can't imagine how crazy it would be now with all the people wanting to get in contact with me."

As a two-sport athlete at Butler, Decker has given a lot of thought about if he'll play basketball his senior year.

"I've talked with my parents about playing basketball this year," said Decker. "I've also spoken with coach (Tim) Hinton and coach (Ed) Warinner about it as well. They told me I should play and compete so I'm going to go ahead and play as I also don't want to let any of my teammates down by not playing."

Despite receiving an invitation to play in the Army All-American Game, Decker has yet to make up his mind.

"I know it would be awesome to be a part," said Decker. "But I'm not sure yet if I'm going to play or not. I'll have to sit down and talk with my parents and coaches about it soon." Top Stories