Nagel Proves To Himself He Belongs

SAN ANTONIO - Aaron Nagel wasn't quite sure what he was getting into when he stepped off the plane in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker from Lemont, Ill., didn't know how he stacked up against the nation's best players.

Nagel, a Notre Dame commit, is finding out that he is matching up quite well. On the second day of practice in preparation for Saturday's all-star game, Nagel was lining up mostly with the first unit as an inside/weakside linebacker.

"I was a little nervous, but it's going pretty good, I'm feeling kind of confident," Nagel said.

"I'm catching on more with the coverages and stuff like that. It went a lot better today than it did yesterday, so I'm just looking forward to keep working hard and stuff."

That blue-collar attitude was noticed right away by linebackers coach Rob Zvonar. During the fall, Zvonar is the head coach at Lincoln Way High in Frankfort, Ill.

"Aaron is such a special, not only football player, but special person," Zvonar said. "Not only does he excel on the football field, but I think he is a 32 ACT and just a special special kid. His hometown Lemont, Illinois is not far from where I live as well. I used to follow him although our schools did not compete against each other because of the school sizes. One of the things I was really looking forward to in coming here was getting to know him and work with him. It's been a pleasure to be with him the past few days."

Nagel is making the adjustment from the safety position he played on the prep level to linebacker. He said when he is in pass coverage that's when he is most comfortable.

"My reads and getting up to the line of scrimmage quicker, and stopping the ball carrier behind the line," Nagel said about what he needs to improve upon.

"He is learning his responsibilities and assignments real well," Zvonar said. "It's kind of like having a coach on the field when you have a kid that cerebral that intelligent."

It takes more than being cerebral and intelligent to get a player into the U.S. Army All-American game. Some said Nagel didn't have the talent to earn a spot in this elite game.

"I think Charlie Weis and some of the people in South Bend would disagree with that," Zvonar stated. "I think there will be quite a few that thinks he does belong here, and I certainly think he belongs here without a doubt. He is doing a great job. He's learning some new things coming up to a inside-backer spot from the safety spot in high school. He is doing a great job with the adjustment and I think he is going to do some good things on Saturday."

At Wednesday's scrimmage inside the Alamo Dome, Nagel will see if the first-team reps continue. At any rate, he now knows he can play with anyone in the country before arriving at Notre Dame.

"Some people say we didn't have very much competition, so I'm glad I get to prove myself against the best of the best," Nagel said. Top Stories