Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com
October 18, 2001
Reversal of Fortune
In Tailbacks Family
By Alan Tieuli
The IrishEyes.Com News Service
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE) Last week Cooper Rego was threatened with arrest if he appeared on the Notre Dame campus. This week his cousin may be asked to save the football season.
True freshman Ryan Grant, a 6-1, 198-pound tailback from just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge (Nyack, NY), looks like hell be a key part of the offensive game plan Saturday against Southern California. Grant is a likely fill-in for injured juniors Tony Fisher and Julius Jones.
"They (Fisher and Jones) will be a game-time decision Saturday," Irish coach Bob Davie said following practice tonight at Cartier Field. Neither Jones (Achilles tendon, lingering affects from a concussion) or Fisher (hamstring) have practiced all week.
Terrance Howard (six carries all season) would likely get the start at tailback if Fisher and Jones are both out. Both that leaves plenty of carries for Grant. After all, Notre Dame is last in the country in passing offense yes, 115th out of 115 for good reason. It rushes the ball on virtually every snap, including a remarkable 70 of the last 72 on first-down.
Grant was the New Jersey state player of the year last fall at Don Bosco Prep, rushing for just under 2,000 yards. He was a 10.7 sprinter in the 100 and was rated among the top 50 prospects nationally by CNNSI. And, yes, he is the cousin of Rego, who was dismissed from Notre Dame in 1998 after being accused of sexual assault.
Rego was scheduled to compete at Notre Dame last Saturday for his new school, West Virginia. But when told he might be arrested as soon as he stepped foot in the stadium, Rego chose to stay home (and bashed the Notre Dame administration through a written statement distributed by his attorney).
Grant chose not to comment on this ironic family twist, but he did say Thursday "I feel like Im ready to play. Ive learned the system and the offense and I know I can help."
The freshman will be wearing No. 25, Tony Drivers old digits. Driver was a highly touted prep tailback as well in fact, he was the number two tailback prospect in the country when he signed but spent the majority of his career in the defensive secondary.
Notre Dame enters the USC contest a miserable 109th in total offense, sandwiched between Baylor and North Texas. If Howard (99 carries, 535 carries for his career) and Grant cant produce effectively, USC will pin its ears back in going after quarterback Carlyle Holiday. And Holiday has not exactly become adapt yet at avoiding contact.
"Its concerning," Davie understated.
THE NOTEBOOK: Another day, another national publication and high-profile player bashing the Notre Dame program. This from Northwestern quarterback Zak Kustok in the Oct. 22 Sports Illustrated: "I dont think any other football program in the country has as much discipline as ours does. As far as following the details and being precise, I know at Notre Dame it wasnt the same." ..USC is in the air from Los Angeles as this is written and will arrive in Northern Indiana late Thursday night. The Trojans have their own problems. They are 2-4 and are ranked 103rd in rushing. Whatever happened to "Student Body Right." Whats more, "The Men of Troy" have surrendered the intellectual copyright of that nickname to, of all teams, the upstart Troy State squad that upset Mississippi State last week In the last 32 years, there have been only five occasions where neither Notre Dame or USC were ranked when they met, including the last three at Notre Dame Stadium. Pete Carroll is third consecutive embattled USC coach Davie has faced in South Bend, following John Robinson (1997) and Paul Hackett (1999).
(Alan Tieuli is the Managing Editor of IrishEyes.)