New Home for Prince

Spring practice is a chance for Charlie Weis and his staff to sort through the competitions and get an idea of what's ahead in 2007. The Notre Dame head coach made one decision a few sessions in that's had an effect at two positions. Sophomore Munir Prince was moved from running back over to the defense at cornerback. The learning process now starts for the Florissant, MO native.

"It's been going real good," Prince said Friday after practice. "I have a couple of practices under my belt. I'm trying to get my man-to-man technique down and learn the zone coverages and my drops."

Prince's move came about because of the depth at the running back position and an injury in the secondary. Travis Thomas, James Aldridge and Armando Allen were three backs Prince would have to compete against to get a chance for playing time. Thomas moved back to offense after spending a year at linebacker and appears primed for a big season. Aldridge provides the power punch while Allen has Notre Dame fans excited about his breakaway speed. Prince's push for playing time at the running back spot would have been an arduous one.

In the secondary, Gary Gray, who enrolled early along with Allen and Jimmy Clausen, broke his arm the second practice of spring ball. After discussions between Weis and Prince, it was decided that he would move over to the defense and compete for playing time as a cornerback. Weis said the move was one of want, not need.

"Me and Coach Weis had been talking about the move for awhile," Prince said. "We just felt that now was the time for me to try the cornerback position. I was always open to the position. Whichever way I can help the team, that's where I want to be. Whether it's on offense, defense or special teams, it doesn't really matter to me."

Prince does have a background at the position. In high school, he was an all-state cornerback as a junior. Now, after spending an entire season at running back, Prince has had to adjust to Corwin Brown's defense. He's putting in the extra hours to catch up with the others.

"I spend a lot of time in the film room because I still don't understand the defensive terminology," Prince said. "The offense and defense use different names for different formations. I spend an extra hour or two in the film room and stay after practice to talk to Coach Lewis to get my bearings down."

Prince has liked what he's seen from Brown and the new defensive mentality.

"Coach Brown is a great coach," Prince said. "He's really down to earth and he's always trying to help out the players. He's been real helpful with the switch. If you mess up, he'll let you know. Not in your face but he'll let you know the mistakes and break it down. It shows he's as passionate about the game as we are."

"People talk about starting on page one," Brown said on Friday about Prince. "That's where we're starting. I know Bill wants to get his hands on him. I do too because you see some things there."

Another person helping ease the transition is Bill Lewis. The secondary coach is the consummate teacher on the field, always instructing his defensive backs to the ins and outs of the position.

"Coach Lewis is helping me through this whole thing," Prince said. "I need someone to tell me what to do. I haven't been in the position for a whole year. He's been vocal with me and real patient. It's helped me out a lot."

Prince won't just come in and play right away. The cornerback position is deep in numbers. Ambrose Wooden and Terrail Lambert have been working with the first-team in drills at the beginning of each practice while Darrin Walls, Raeshon McNeil and Leo Ferrine all are pushing to get into the starting lineup. Throw in a healthy Gray next fall and Prince has numerous contenders to challenge for playing time. He believes a few of his characteristics could help in the race to get on the field.

"My speed and my strength are my positives" Prince said. "At running back, I got way stronger bench pressing. In press coverage, that will really help out. With my speed, it'll help me recover if I get beat. You're going to get beat. But my speed will help me compensate for the mistakes I make."

From Prince's viewpoint, the defense appears to be on track in improving from the previous two seasons.

"From what I've seen, the defense seems way faster and intense," Prince said. "We're flying around and making plays. There's not as much thinking going on. People are just going out and making plays. It's less thinking and more guys making plays. It's more natural."

As far as special teams are concerned, Prince said he's in the running for one of the kick return positions. That should be bad news for opponents. Prince has excellent speed, as evidenced by a time of 10.4 in the 100-meter dash in high school. The sophomore just wants to get on the field and contribute. As for the defense, Prince said give him a few more weeks and he'll be fine. On Friday, referees were at practice to officiate scrimmage situations. Prince was challenged but it's all part of the learning process at a new position.

"Today was pretty intense," Prince said. "I got thrown in the fire. They put me in a lot of man coverage. They were testing my skills to see where I'm at. I made some plays and gave up some plays. That's just the way the game goes."


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