Dan Santucci says he's had a great experience at Notre Dame thus far. "It's been a great time. Especially having Ced (Cedric Hilliard), Darrell (Campbell), and Greg Pauly teaching me the fundamentals of football. They're good people to look to, and they've taught me a lot. Next year, with Ced and Darrell gone, hopefully I can contribute in the rotation. I'm excited."
Santucci arrived at Notre Dame as a defensive end candidate, but it didn't take long before he was moved inside to play along the interior defensive line. "It was a change. You've got to face more double-teams and bigger guys. I was only 265 last year. Now that I've put on more weight, it's a little easier. I've still got to work on the little things like technique to really be successful on the field."
The Chicago native says he's "I think I need to get bigger and stronger in the weight room. I think technique is the biggest thing--technique, running to the ball and getting off blocks. I'm about 6-4, 280 right now. I want to get to 290 and still keep my speed. I'm playing both nose and tackle."
Defensive line coach, Greg Mattison, has been tutoring Santucci in playing inside. "I think the biggest thing for me, he always tells me ‘stay low and get off blocks.' Those are the two things that I really need to work on. You think you're playing low, but you might not be. Just practice and experience, when you're tired, that is when it's tough. It's hard to stay low when you are tired."
Playing on the scout team is never easy for anyone, especially as competitive and Santucci is. "It's hard but I've accepted my role. I knew coming in that Darrell and Ced were great players. I just want to do everything I can on scout team and help this team. I'm playing special teams like kick off return, anything I can to help this team."
We asked Santucci how much he can learn playing on the scout team. "You're not running the defense that Notre Dame runs, but you can work on the little things like technique and staying low, just fighting with the offense, trying to make them tougher, and getting them ready. I don't look at it as a bad thing. Darrell and Ced both played scout team, everyone here has for the most part. It's where you learn how to play."
Santucci wasn't the most decorated member of the 2002 class, but he says he makes up with that in attitude. "I know I'm not the greatest athlete in the world so I've got to scrap--I'm a scrapper. I go down grab legs, just fight the whole time, and just try to make the tackle. I don't take anything from anyone."
While he hasn't played much, Santucci says he's thrilled to be at Notre Dame. "It's been an unbelievable experience. It's kind of like my old high school. Everyone here is a big family. It's nice to know I can go home whenever I need to, although I never do. I just can't wait to get on the field."