Landri Has One Goal in Mind for 2006

Senior defensive lineman Derek Landri has one goal in mind for the 2006 season. It's the same goal he's had for his entire career. Landri knows plenty about championships as his high school football team won the Student Sports National Championship three out of the four years Landri was on the squad. But now Landri says it's time to win one at Notre Dame.

"When you come to Notre Dame you come to win the National Championship," the Concord, Calif. native said. "That's the bottom line. That's why I came here. We obviously struggled a bit earlier in my career, but you can either get better or you don't. I definitely think we're getting better, and I believe we can win it all next year."

The former USA Today All-American was bit by the Notre Dame bug at an early age growing up in Northern California, so when the Irish came calling in the fall of 2001, it didn't take Landri long to decide he wanted to play for the Irish.

"I grew up with my grandfather watching Notre Dame," Landri explained. "He got me into that spirit of Notre Dame that everyone likes to talk about. I knew this place was where I was supposed to be. There really wasn't any question as to where I wanted to go. I wanted to come here and win a National Championship."

But Landri's Notre Dame career got put on hold before it ever got started. After signing with the Irish in early 2002, Landri broke his leg in a bike accident that summer, and the former California Player of the Year had to sit out most of his first fall camp with the Irish.

"It was very difficult watching all the kids you were recruited with getting into the mix," he admitted. "You had to sit there riding a bike or do abs with Mickey (Marotti). You can't get out there and mix it up, which had never really happened to me. It was very frustrating to not be able to get in there and mix it up and hit people, which is what we like to do. I had never been in a situation like that before."

After starting 37 consecutive games in high school, Landri was forced to battle his injury and redshirt his freshman season.

"The main thing was just getting better," he said. "I'd never really had a surgery or had been injured. You hear about people being timid when they come back. I didn't really know how to be hurt or come back from it. I had to learn on the go, and at the same time I was taking that step up from high school to college."

Landri's battled nicks and bruises his entire career at Notre Dame but has started every game the past two seasons for the Irish. Early shoulder surgery in the winter of 2005 left him undersized last year, but it certainly didn't affect his productivity.

"I had a surgery in January and I wasn't really able to train all off-season," Landri explained. "I put a pretty good summer together with my trainer back home, and then I came back and worked with Ruben Mendoza and I think they really helped me get ready for the season. I was able to get a little quicker, and I was able to stay healthy, which is hard to do. I was able to play a full season and contribute to the team all year. I was so happy I could play all season. I'm hoping all of that is behind me.

"I was definitely undersized last year," Landri continued. "I played most of the season around 264. I knew I wasn't going to have my strength because of the previous surgeries, so I knew I had to make that up somewhere else. I knew it had to be my quickness.

"I think it really helped with the defense and how coach Minter and coach Jappy wanted the defense to go. It really worked out well for me and for the defense."

It certainly did as Landri was constantly in the opponents backfield in 2005 finishing the season with eight tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and three sacks.

"I've shed some pounds since practice started. I'm around 277 right now," said the Landri when asked about his added size this season. "At the start of fall camp I'd like to be around 285-290. It depends on how I feel. If I start losing some of my quickness, I'll start to lose a few pounds."

The Irish will need Landri at full speed in 2005 as he and senior returning starter Trevor Laws are the only two interior defensive linemen with any real experience heading into 2006. Landri said he's not worried about Notre Dame's depth inside next season.

"We have depth, it's just young. They're getting a lot of reps right now," he said of the younger players. "I think they'll contribute a lot next year, and they're going to have to. Nobody plans on getting hurt. We're not going to play timid. If you're playing like that, you're not playing to win."

And Landri plans on doing a lot of winning next year.

"National Championship," he said when asked how he wanted to finish his Irish career. "That's all that matters. I don't care about individual stuff, that's what I came here to do. I'm sure that's what everyone here came to do."

And the future? What about the NFL?

"It's something I aspire to do," Landri admitted. "I think everyone does. If we win a lot next year, people are going to notice. If it doesn't work out, I'll be fine. That's what I came to Notre Dame for. I've got the Notre Dame degree and I'll be just fine with that." Top Stories