Lambert Can't Wait for Georgia Tech

When a new year begins, college football coaches have a good idea of what they have coming back, who's going to play where. Then there are always a couple of nice surprises out of the returning players. One of the nice surprises at Notre Dame has been cornerback Terrail Lambert.

Now a junior, Lambert appears to be reaching the potential everyone thought he had when he arrived on campus as a blue-chip recruit from Oxnard, Calif.

"All of a sudden they start to show up," secondary coach Bill Lewis stated. "You start to see, hey here he is making a play. Here he is making another play. That's what you're looking for, because I tell our guys everyday you go out on the practice field and you practice making plays. You only have so many repetitions in a practice schedule, and you can't afford to waste repetitions."

According to head coach Charlie Weis and Lewis, that's what Lambert's been doing, making plays.

Lambert barely played last season after not seeing the field at all his freshman year. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Lambert made just eight tackles playing mainly special teams and mop-up duty. Weis didn't have faith that he could use Lambert last season, but apparently he does now.

Going back to the spring, Lambert appeared to move past Leo Ferrine on the depth chart, running with the number-one defense while starter Mike Richardson was limited. Richardson is healthy this fall and has taken back his spot. However when the Irish go nickel, it's Lambert out there with the ones, playing on the boundary with Richardson sliding over to nickel back.

"I think Terrail is typical of what can happen of a player between his first and second year," Lewis explained. "It's an accumulation of information as he gets more repetitions and he gets more experience, he is starting to feel more comfortable. As a result, he's been able to make more plays for us at this point on the practice field. He's put himself in a position where he is competing for playing time.

"Here is a guy that can run, and he has good quickness and so forth, and now all of a sudden he is starting to get a feel for what it's all about. He's starting to be able to use his talents that he's been blessed with in the system."

Lambert, who will tell you he is the fastest player on the team, didn't always see things as quick as he can move. Richardson's injury may have been a blessing in disguise. Lambert has been able to take the experience he gained in the spring and really build on it.

"Lately I've been feeling that the game has gotten to that turning point where it's starting to slow down for me," Lambert said. "I can see things quicker, and I can almost call plays out when I see them. I'm enjoying it.

"I think it's just the experience and being in the defensive system for awhile. Your confidence level goes up. They say your junior year is a big turning point within your college career."

Everyone's hoping so.

Lambert gets a lot of help from Richardson, but not the way you would think. There aren't a lot of verbal tips, it's more like leading by example.

"A lot of times we'd be watching film and coach would be like that's the way I want the technique played, and then I can just sort of model myself after that," Lambert explained. "I also think going against receivers like Jeff (Samardzija) and Rhema (McKnight) day-to-day, they are some of the best in the country so I know in the back of my mind, if I can shut these people down daily that will mean something on Saturdays."

Always anxious to get out there, now that Lambert knows he is in the mix to play a lot of downs, the Sept. 2 opener at Georgia Tech can't get here soon enough.

"It's almost like a tease," he said.

Lambert will also play a role on special teams, working as the visor and gunner on punt teams. It doesn't seem like he is a serious contender at kick returner. "I'm just trying to do what the coaches want me to do, and just trying to contribute wherever I can," he added.


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