Powers-Neal Making a Case For Starting Fullback

St. Paul, Minn. native Rashon Powers-Neal will head into the 2004 season trying to get the nod as the starting fullback. When he first came to Notre Dame he spent time at linebacker and safety before being moved to tailback. Most of his playing time this past season came from the fullback spot. We talked with Powers-Neal following Saturday's practice and scrimmage.

"The weather was great out there today and I think overall practice went pretty well," said Rashon Powers-Neal of Saturday's scrimmage. "There are still things we need to work on but that is always going to be the case. The offensive unit came out and made some big plays and some key plays. We are just out there improving every day. It was a pretty good practice."

He also seemed pleased with the scrimmage. "We had some big plays and big touchdowns made out there along with some key first-down conversions. Everybody was just out there playing hard and we made some big plays."

We couldn't resist asking which side of the ball performed better today . With a big laugh, he said, "The offense always performs better. But actually both sides played well and made big plays. When one side did well the other responded and did well."

When asked about his own performance, Powers-Neal responded, "I think I did all right. There's a lot of room for improvement. We will watch and critique film later and this will help me. I made a few big plays and got a lot of reps so overall I think I did okay." We had the feeling from his response that he felt more than just okay about his performance today and later we learned that Rashon had a 97 yard touchdown run in the scrimmage.

Two areas of concern coming into spring ball have been the blocking and pass receiving by the backs. "It has been a major focus," Powers-Neal said. "We are doing a lot of drill work with pass receiving and blocking and are focusing on these real hard. We are not using different techniques from last year, but we are just getting after it and trying to get more physical and are concentrating on our jobs."

Powers-Neal also believes having two years in this offense is noticeably helpful, "It's a huge, huge advantage. It helps a lot to slow the game down when you are able to hear the play and know exactly what you need to do. It gives you a lot more time to read the defense and the coverages. When you are a freshman coming in, some of these plays sound like a foreign language because everything is going so fast, but when you understand it and pick things up, it really slows things down."

We all understand that football is a very demanding game both physically and mentally and we asked Rashon how he handles the ups and downs. "I'm always hard on myself when things don't go well. I don't always show it out there on the field but I get on myself pretty hard. But I don't let it get me down. You just have to get past that last play and go on to the next one. And I always look at film so I can critique myself."

There are only three more practice sessions before the Blue/Gold game and we are sure Rashon and his teammates will be looking forward to some time off, but we went ahead and asked about summer conditioning. "A whole lot of running and lot of drill work, a lot of cutting and things to help get my quickness up and just major conditioning," said Powers-Neal about what his plans are for the summer. "Two things I need to improve on are being physical on run blocking and being better at catching the ball."

Irish Eyes came away from this interview impressed with the determination Rashon Powers-Neal has about the starting fullback position and his chance of being that player. He also shared that he has put on 10 pounds and now weighs in at 237.


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