Incoming Irish: Nile Sykes

Incoming Irish freshman outside linebacker Nile Sykes of Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic previews arriving on Notre Dame this weekend as a student.

To prepare for life as a college athlete at Notre Dame, outside linebacker Nile Sykes of Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic focused on improving his level of conditioning.

"I worked on conditioning a lot," Sykes said. "I talked to some of the players already on the team and even the coaches said the same thing, it's better to be in top shape when you get on campus than to be really big from being in the weight room."

To be in top shape, Sykes has been following the running program set forth by Irish strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo.

"We have to run 350 yards in under 60 seconds, and we have to do that four times," Sykes said. "I've been getting under that every time pretty much."

For Sykes, similar to defensive end Jay Hayes, the component of the workout that has presented itself as unfamiliar has been the Olympic style of lifting.

"It's just the technique that I had to get used to," Sykes said. "Some of the overhead lifts and overhead squats we have never done in high school."

Sykes, who will enroll at Notre Dame at 6-foot-1, 235-pounds, has spoken with Irish defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder about what his future holds as a linebacker at Notre Dame.

"Coach (Bob) Diaco saw me as a WILL linebacker, and I asked Coach VanGorder if he saw the same thing," Sykes said. "He said that I have the body type to play that position, but he wants to see me play in person and figure out my strengths. He said I may not necessarily play there just because of my build, but it will be based on where I am a natural fit based on a lot of factors."

Sykes is pleased with his current weight of 235.

"I told Coach (Bob) Elliott that I weight 235, and he said that's a good weight," Sykes said. "I think it's ideal because I can add weight from there, and I can even lost weight if I need to."

Sykes will arrive on campus this Saturday and start classes on Monday, along with the rest of the incoming class.

"I'm excited," Sykes said. "I'm just ready to get up there and start my life as a student at Notre Dame."

The freshmen trend continues with Sykes choosing Florida State as the game he's most anticipated to be a part of in 2014.

"Definitely Florida State because they're the defending national champions," Sykes said. "I heard playing USC was pretty cool too, though."

Sykes will enroll at Notre Dame as a three-star prospect and as the No. 49 ranked outside linebacker in the class of 2014.

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