Honorary Coach and former Irish Running Back Allen Pinkett
What was that experience like for you today?"You know, it's an interesting dynamic to see it from that perspective and to hear how they call the game and to hear how they go through everything. You definitely gain a whole new appreciation when you are listening to everything that is going on and seeing what the guys go through. So it was definitely something I will remember for a long time.
How important is it for former players to come back and be associated with the program?"Very important; very important for the former players to come back because what it shows the current players is that life exists after football and you have a school that cares about you, not just for your years of eligibility but life beyond. This school has gone over and above to show that they care about me, and I'm still trying to figure out why (laughing)."
Do you have the coaching bug now?"Oh no indeed (laughing). No indeed, they put in some crazy hours."
You never thought of that as a possibility?"The main reason I didn't want to go into coaching, because I didn't want to think about having to move every two years. I feel like I can teach, but that is a special breed to be able to do all the meetings, deal with all the ancillary stuff, and put a good product out on the field on weekends; so all my respect to them."
Honorary Coach and former Irish Lineman Bryant Young
Do you see things differently from the sidelines?"The game for me has slowed down because of the years I have played. I can catch things that I didn't see before and I'm able to help guys that come to the sidelines."
The theme all spring has been to play with more emotion and control the emotion. What is the key to be able to be an emotional team and an effective emotional team?"I think the key is knowing that there is a potential to have a blowup like that, but being able to maintain and keep your composure. There are going to be times when your emotions get the best of you, but you have to put those things behind you and regroup and move on."
Tell us what you saw from this team out there today and what can be expected from them this fall?"They show a lot of promise and the sky is the limit for this team. I think they have been through the fire last year and adversity builds character. I think what they went through last year; they're going to come out better for it."
So what have you been up to since you retired?"Nothing (laughing), I'm traveling a little bit and getting back here, so not much really other than playing with my children and enjoying my family."
Have you been back here since you left Notre Dame?"I have been back but not for anything football-related or athletic. It feels good to be back and watching the team and seeing the progress they are making. So I hope to be back for a couple games this season."
Honorary Coach and former Irish Running Back Ryan GrantWhat do you think of Aaron Rodgers as the heir to Brett Favre? "You want a leader and he is definitely that. He proved that last year even on the scout team. When he went into the Dallas game when Brett got hurt and the first thing he said in the huddle was, ‘Just trust me.' That's big for a young quarterback to come in and right away we were with him. From the minute Brett stepped down, he has taken that role and done everything that's asked of him, and I know he will continue to do that. He's going to learn and have his ups and downs, but our job is to make it easier for him."
You played for two different coaches here, Bob Davie and Ty Willingham. Did they both help you?"Absolutely, of course, it's a learning process. I played for a lot more coaches than those (laughing). If you've been playing football for a long time, you'll play for a bunch of coaches."
How is life different without Brett Favre?"I don't know yet. I haven't had to play any games yet. I don't see that it will be that different because the motive will be the same. I'm still going to go out there with the same kind of confidence and accomplish the same kind of thing and win. I think from the fans and media-sense, there'll probably be a little bigger difference because they don't know anything different."
He was a pretty strong personality in the locker room, right?"Absolutely, I don't think he will ever lose that sense of who he is in the locker room. He had his own office and stuff like that."
Do you get to take over that office now?"No, no, no, I don't think anybody takes over that office (laughing). I wouldn't even want that. I don't know if a lot of people even know that it is there. He called me back there one time and I said, ‘Holy smokes, this is where you are at all the time?' I think people are happy for him to just be Brett Favre and get a break. As disappointing as it was, nobody knows what he has gone through and stuff like that. All the accolades and everything he has gotten, he has deserved. I'm glad he's in a place now where he can relax."
What is it like being back here?"It's great. It's a great experience and I appreciate Coach Weis and everybody bringing me back. It was a little weird being on the sideline. I don't know how I felt about being a coach. The guys were asking me for advice and I said, ‘Who are you talking to? I'm still playing.' I'm excited there are a bunch of new faces. There are only three guys on the team that I played with. In general, I am excited about the guys and the new leadership and the opportunity that the guys have to compete and step up."
Senior Defensive Back David Bruton
How would you assess spring practice?"We've made a lot of improvement from the defensive standpoint. We made some good strides but we still have a lot of things to work on to become a cohesive and strong unit."
How different is it with Coach Tenuta around and his style and game plan?"It was a different game plan and different type of mentality throughout the whole defense, in particular the linebacking corps. It's a lot more aggressive and we have kind of taken on that role as a defense."
What has he brought to the group?"He brings tenacity; he brings toughness; he brings focus and discipline. He's kind of like a drill sergeant."
Can you tell us about the fourth-down play where Golden Tate went for the 57-yard catch?"Gary (Gray) and I had a hunch he was going to run a streak on the back side. I was hoping Gary would make a play, but it was a good play by Golden. Those plays happen."
How much has being a gunner helped you to this point?"It's helped with my confidence, especially my freshman and sophomore years, going out there and making plays against 22 and 23 year-olds and I was just 18. So it has helped build my confidence up and helped me develop as a player."
Sophomore Quarterback Jimmy Clausen
What was going through your mind in that last series?"It was great; it was pretty much like a game situation. It's the fourth quarter and you know we have to score to win. Duval (Kamara) made a great catch. I just threw it up there and that's the kind of confidence we need to have on this team. When we need a big play, Duval just said throw it up. I just threw it up and he went up and got it for me."
How did you like going through this spring as a starter rather than one of three guys like last year?"I wouldn't say I like it but it just feels good. Just going out there every day with the team and the guys and just trying to get better each day."
Do you feel like this is your team as far as from the quarterback position?"Yeah, I think so. When you're the quarterback, you have guys looking up to you, especially from the offense, and I'm trying to help those guys in whatever way I can. And that's what I'm trying to do right now."
Coach Weis said that 57-yard pass that you threw to Golden Tate, that you couldn't have physically made that throw last year. Can you talk about your arm strength compared to this time last year?"I think you could see that actually out there last year for yourselves. Last year I wasn't real healthy coming off elbow surgery and being hurt throughout the season. I feel great right now, 100 percent back to where I'm supposed to be. It's just great to throw to guys like Golden Tate and throw it as far as I can and let them go get it."
How much more confidence does it give you to have this arm strength?"It gives me a lot of confidence being at 100 percent. It's a lot different than being hurt. I feel great right now and happy to come out of spring this way and everybody's pretty much healthy."
Senior Receiver David Grimes
How did spring practice go overall?"Each day we improved so now we have to take that progress into summer and fall camp."
What are some things that you still have to work on?"Press release, you know, use my hands and be a lot more physical. I need to work on blocking, being out there on the island and blocking that corner. Those are a couple of things that I will focus on during the off-season."
Will you be spending a lot of time in the weight room?"I will spend a lot more time, and I'm hoping to put on about five or six pounds and get stronger, faster, and quicker."
Will the five or six pounds hurt your speed?"No, it will be five pounds of muscle."
How do you feel about being named a captain?"Man, it's exciting; it's definitely an honor to be a captain here at Notre Dame. It's an honor; it's definitely an honor."
Being in this position, do you feel you need to be a little more vocal now?"Yes, I'm more of a guy that likes to lead by example. I speak when things have to be said and now I will have to be more vocal about it."
How hard is that going to be for you?"I don't think it will be that hard. I was placed in this situation, especially when I was in high school, and I had to be vocal so I think I can do it."
Senior Linebacker Maurice Crum
After 15 practices, what is left for the defense?"We're probably this close (holding his thumb and finger an inch apart). We're this close. We just need to gel. We have to believe in the coaches and believe in each other. The more we believe, the better it will be."
Coach Weis has talked about a defense with three safeties and Harrison Smith dropping down to linebacker against a bigger run game. How has that been working out?"Not bad, Harrison is a great athlete. You've seen him today; you just have to find a way to get him on the field."
Has Coach Brown and Coach Tenuta been talking to you guys about this and how has the transition been?"Not that big a difference because since I've been here, it's about getting players on the field; the guys who make plays; the guys who show up in practice; and Harrison is one of those guys."
Can you talk about some of the young guys on defense and their development?"I want to say, it's as close to night and day. They can play football; you can see that. And as far as maturity goes, I think they're starting to grow into young men and not necessarily kids out on the field."
How has David Bruton been as far as leadership out on the field?"Bruton has done a phenomenal job. He makes my job so much easier. He's behind me and he's like a safety net. Everybody on the defense trusts Bruton."