Full Circle

Senior Anthony Rabasa looks to carve his niche as a rush end in a scheme that suits him well.

It's been a tough three years for Notre Dame senior linebacker Anthony Rabasa. He left Columbus high school in Miami as a lauded four-star outside linebacker prospect, one blessed with an enviable skill for rushing the passer.

Rabasa was first evaluated at inside linebacker in 2011 but moved back outside for 2012 where he toiled behind the successful duo of Prince Shembo and Ishaq Williams. Low on defensive line bodies last season, Rabasa moved to defensive end in 2013 but never able to carve a niche in former coordinator Bob Diaco's defense.

He's now a rush end -- a hybrid OLB/DE in new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder's multiple scheme.

Rabasa has tried to remain positive throughout his collegiate career and points to his fighting spirit as something that has helped him stay focused. Spring ball 2014 suggested this could be the senior's chance to finally make a mark.

"After three years you're like, ‘Well, maybe I'm not that good of a football player. Maybe I wasn't good as I thought I was'," Rabasa said.

"Obviously the last three years haven't been the best for me but I don't think about it too much. I have always been taught to keep going and to never stop trying. I never give up."

This year could finally give Rabasa a reward for remaining positive, after seeing the field sparingly over the last two seasons. Rabasa thinks his skills mesh well with Coach VanGorder's approach.

"I definitely feel more comfortable in Coach VanGorder's system because he uses smaller ends than Coach Diaco did," Rabasa said.

"My skill set is unique and I believe I can do it the best and I want to go out and show people that every day."

Rabasa is delighted to have his chance to play with his hand in the dirt again after a stellar high school career that saw him named as the best defensive lineman in Miami-Dade County. Rabasa recognizes that those accolades were a long time ago but he thinks that he can succeed this year by channelling the attributes that made him stand out as an 18-year-old.

"Every day I'm out there I feel like I'm running 100 percent, 100 miles per hour toward the ball," Rabasa said.

"I had a relentless motor in high school and just being out there with my teammates and (defensive line) Coach (Mike) Elston every day I feel like I am getting back to that."

While his tenure at Notre Dame so far may not have been as successful as he had hoped on the field, academically Rabasa is very proud. He's on the cusp of graduating and he can't wait to finish up his degree.

"It is crazy to think that I am going into my senior year," Rabasa said.

"When I was registering for my classes I saw that I only needed 17 more credits to graduate and I could barely believe it."

Rabasa thinks he has something to prove this year, which bodes well for a Notre Dame defense that loves when players have a chip on their shoulder. This is Rabasa's last opportunity to deliver on the promise he showed as a four-star recruit and he wants to flourish, not only for himself, but also for his family you have showed unwavering support even when he didn't see the field.

"I would love to do well for my parents and the rest of my family," Rabasa said.

"They have been showing up to every game while I've been here so it would be great to have a good year for them."

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