In The Mix

You don't have to see Robert Blanton on the football field to know the freshman cornerback is out there.

You can hear him.

"He's a chirper," head coach Charlie Weis said with a smile.

This week, Weis answered a question saying he could see eight freshman players impacting Notre Dame's two-deep depth chart. It's hard to imagine Robert Blanton, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Matthews, N.C., product, is not one of those guys Weis is talking about.

"He has shown very good cover skills and a cockiness that a corner needs to be able to get on the field," Weis explained. "He's not afraid of anyone and he's not afraid to tell anybody in the whole free world that is willing to listen."

Blanton got his first chance to speak to the free world as a Notre Dame football player at freshman media day late Friday morning. He did a lot more smiling than anything.

It's easy to understand why the U.S. Army All-American was smiling, based off the compliments given about him by his head coach and upperclassmen teammates over the last few weeks. But you get the impression, when the freshmen players were told what to say and what not to say to the media, that most of it was directed towards the very personable Blanton.

Naturally, Blanton said he's just trying to get on the bus. Here's a few other sound bites.

"It's really exciting just to get the opportunity to show what I can do.

"It's been real exciting getting to know the players and getting to know the coaches a little better, and getting out there and doing something I love. I'm really enjoying it."

"I feel like I've been holding my own. I've been trying to just be the best I can be everyday."

Sometime before fall camp, the Notre Dame coaching staff found out they'd be without the services of returning starting cornerback Darrin Walls. Blanton's arrival has helped soften the blow.

Blanton heads into Notre Dame's Sept. 6th season opener, firmly in the mix for game-day reps at cornerback with fifth-year senior Terrail Lambert, junior Raeshon McNeal and sophomore Gary Gray. In practice, he has taken some reps with the first-team defense.

"Adjusting to the speed of the game, I thought it was going to be a lot harder but it was a nice transition," Blanton said. In his final prep season at Butler High, he racked up 128 tackles, seven interceptions, and a ridiculous 25 pass breakups.

"Terrail has helped me out a lot, Raeson McNeal, those two are like the main ones. David Bruton helps me out a little bit as well."

Blanton has noticed a difference in defensive coordinator and secondary coach Corwin Brown, from the recruiter that played a game of online chess against him, to coach, who wants him doing every rep correctly.

"He's a lot more riled up but I like it," Blanton said.

"He actually takes time out to show us different things, not what everybody messes up on, but if I mess up on a certain thing, he'll tell me to go over and do it again and make sure I get it down right."

During an interview session at the U.S. Army All-American game, Blanton said he didn't think he had to work on much of anything to get himself prepared for Notre Dame. Based on the reviews coming out of fall camp, seems like he was close to being right.

Chided for a sound bite by several members of the media on Friday, Blanton did say this.

"It's great to have confidence in yourself. When you have confidence, you make more plays that way."


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