Making the move from high school safety to college linebacker, 6-foot-1, 230-pound Aaron Nagel is trying to learn as much as he can about the position before arriving on campus in June. The Lemont, Ill. product more than held his own while playing linebacker for the first time during the U.S. Army All-American game. He spent the NFL season watching the hometown favorite Chicago Bears and linebacker Brian Urlacher trying to pick up anything he could. It took some time, but Nagel now has a good understanding of the Irish playbook.
"I thought it was pretty big, but once I started looking over it, it wasn't hard," Nagel said. "It was pretty basic and I think I will have it down before I get there.
"Getting my instincts for the linebacker position, getting used to all those things will be the biggest thing. I'm a little comfortable, but not all the way comfortable yet. It will probably take me a week or two to get comfortable, but I'm looking forward to getting down there and making a as much of an impact as I can."
And learning the language will be rough. Nagel was confused when he came up for a spring practice and sat in on the linebacker meetings. Irish coaches tell him not to worry about it, he will learn that when he arrives on campus.
Nagel didn't play any sports following the football season. Besides studying his new playbook, Nagel has hit the workout program Irish strength and conditioning coordinator Ruben Mendoza sent him, and has continued to work at same speed camp he's been at for years.
"I've been doing the same program since freshman year so I was excited to get something new," Nagel said. Some of the things I've seen, some of the things I haven't seen.
"I've just noticed strength so far, not sure about that much size. I think I'm now benching 375 pounds, squatting 455 pounds and cleaning 280 or so.
"I've put on weight and kept my speed the same, so I guess that's an improvement," Nagel said. "My quickness and agility is getting better. I think my forty is a 4.5 or little over that, and my shuttle is probably 3.9 or 4.0."
While Nagel gets prepared for his arrival at Notre Dame, he is able to sit back and watch his younger brother Brett and his classmate Graham Pocic go through the same recruiting process he went through a year ago. Both have asked him for advice a few times now that attention is really starting to pick up for both of them.
"They just ask about different stuff, about different schools and my opinion about those schools," Nagel said. "I don't try to push them one way or the other. Notre Dame would be nice, but they have to go where they feel comfortable."
Nagel was very comfortable when he was on campus for the Blue-Gold game in April, capping the Irish's spring practice. He got a chance to meet most of the players in his incoming class and get a look at defensive coordinator Corwin Brown's 3-4 defense. Nagel and Robert Hughes have talked about getting together this summer and working out.
"I like it a lot," Nagel said of the scheme. "I think there is going to be some huge improvements from last year. I think it's a real good scheme and will make the team better overall. I like coach Brown and (linebackers) coach (Brian) Polian a lot., and I'm looking forward to working with them."