Delayed Gratification

USC transfer Amir Carlisle won an appeal to play football for Notre Dame in 2012. An off-season ankle injury kept him from the field in the spring, and from full speed at any point last fall. Frustrating as that was for both Carlisle and head coach Brian Kelly, it might have worked out best for all involved.

Wide receiver Pat Eilers found his way from Yale to South Bend and helped the Irish win a national title before moving to safety as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. Fullback Larry Moriarity began at Santa Barbara City College, became the first junior college player to earn a scholarship to Notre Dame, and served five years in the NFL, notably with the Houston Oilers.

College and Pro Football Hall of Famer George Connor is the best example of a transfer into Notre Dame (Holy Cross, to serving in the Navy, to Notre Dame); ex-Northwestern lineman Thomas Bemenderfer is the most recent, and USC transfer Amir Carlisle serves as the present representative of players to transfer into the nation's most storied college football program.

"Having new surroundings, meeting new people, acclimating to a new team," said Carlisle when asked about the toughest part of his transfer from USC last winter. "But every has embraced me, greeted me with open arms and its been an easy transition for me.

"God's plan is really the right plan," he added in an interview with Irisheyes.com in early January. "I really prayed about this and just being in the national championship is an answer to prayers. Its a dream come true and it feels great to be a part of."

Carlisle was much more a part of the proceedings in December. He spent last spring, summer, and most of the fall battling through nerve damage related to a broken ankle suffered last March.

"At the start of December, I got a lot of reps," Carlisle offered. "Then I got transitioned over to scout team for the second part (of bowl preparations). I got a lot of reps -- its the most I've run since last season so its been real good…just being back on the field gave my ankle a little bit more range of motion that I needed. I'll be ready 100 percent for spring ball."

Carlisle noted he was healthy enough to play on January 7 had it been an option. He wasn't in that position in August or September, and the decision on how to proceed in his true sophomore season of 2012 was difficult.

"In August I was 'alright' I'd say, but the nerve damage really slowed everything down," said Carlisle. "That was the primary reason I wasn't able to play this season, but that's been getting a lot better.

"Around the fifth game, I tried to come back to practice. It just wasn't right and Coach (Brian) Kelly and I said it'd be smarter to save this year, come back (in 2013) 100 percent ready to go. I thought that was the best decision."

His redshirt season of 2012 allows Carlisle to apply for a fifth year in 2015. More on Carlisle's mind is his status for spring and fall 2013. Notably, Theo Riddick's vacated RB/Slot role in which the graduated senior excelled.

"Last year we talked to the coaches about that and its a position that if I can show I'm capable of, they really want me to play," said Carlisle. "I pride myself on being versatile, so hopefully this off-season I'll work on my route-running, hands, and I can win that position next year.

"When spring ball comes around and fall camp, that's the position I desire to fill and I have to work hard to compete."

He'll compete with returning contributors George Atkinson and Cam McDaniel; fellow 2012 redshirt Will Mahone, and incoming freshmen Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston.

And there's likely a game circled on his fall calendar. His former teammates and friends from USC come to town on October 19.

"Its really disappointing, I still have a lot of friends over there," said Carlisle of the Trojans late-season collapse and purported locker room strife." I wish them the best, but I'm happy where God has me."


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