IE Notebook

Today's notebook focuses on the freshmen class, particularly the offensive side of the ball. Find out what was the deal behind the shaved heads and more about the three newcomers with family ties to the program. Also, what were the advantages of enrolling early and how are the rookies dealing with their first college camp?

Charlie Weis misspoke the other day when he said that all of the offensive freshmen shaved their heads. It seems that somehow the offensive linemen escaped Armando Allen, James Aldridge and Eric Maust's clippers.

The Irish freshmen had to perform a skit show for the upperclassmen last week and the skill players wanted to make a point that they were united.

"This is definitely a new look, I haven't had this since I was born. I've had long hair," receiver John Goodman said. "We were doing some skits and stuff because we were singing the alma mater and the fight song for the team, the freshmen were, so we just decided to do something a little different. Our bond is so close, it really wasn't that big of a deal, we just wanted to show that we're pretty close."

Michael Floyd likes to keep it low anyway, so it was not a big deal for him.

"It was just something that I did. I just wanted to trim it down because of the heat," he said.

Quarterback Dayne Crist had no problem losing his locks for the sake of displaying the group's bond.

"That was actually the offensive skill guys and other freshmen as a unity thing," he said. "Coming in as freshmen and getting a clean start, it was half joking and a good time. It'll grow back."

But it wasn't that easy for everyone.

"I couldn't tell you how hard it was and how much I didn't want to do it, but it made us closer, made us a more cohesive unit for offensive skill," tight end Joseph Fauria said.

Offensive linemen are generally called the ‘big uglies', but center Michael Golic, Jr. thinks that the skill players needed haircuts.

"That was more of an offensive skill player thing. If you look around at the linemen, we still have our locks flowing right now," he said. "We're a little better looking than the skill crew collectively. So we don't have to draw that kind of attention to ourselves."

Center Braxston Cave agreed with Golic that the other freshmen look better without their hair.

"They're the ugly ones. We look good so we kept our hair," Cave said. "Especially with Trevor (Robinson) with the long hair, he talked us all into to keep growing it out."

Robinson has the longest hair on the team and has been growing it for awhile, so it would have been difficult to convince the big guy to shave it off.

"Originally it was from watching A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter play at Ohio State a few years back," said Robinson, who mentioned that he has never had it pulled. "If it ever takes away from anything I'm trying to do with football, I would get it cut. So far, so good."

EARLY ENTREES GOT A JUMP: Robinson was one of two freshmen, along with defensive lineman Sean Cwynar, that enrolled at Notre Dame over the winter and both said that it has been to their benefit. Robinson and Cwynar both talked about learning how to balance football and school.

"Most of the time, it's about the classes. Once you go through a few workouts and get the gist of what's going on," Robinson said. "Every class is kind of different and with the first-year studies, they're going to be taking a lot of the classes that we have already taken, so they ask about the professors and the workload for each class. So I think we've been able to help them out quite a bit."

Cwynar agreed that going through school and football practice in the spring helped him on both ends.

"It helped me a lot academically and athletically. I already went through the adjustment period that these freshmen are going to go through when they come in here taking a full load of classes," Cwynar said. "Football-wise, I've been playing a lot looser compared to the spring and I think I've learned the playbook a lot better. I think you just feel overwhelmed at first and then you get used to it and you just adjust accordingly. If they have any questions me and Trevor definitely help them out because we already went through that."

Cave admitted that it's obvious that Robinson got a leg up by coming in early.

"Trevor is definitely a step ahead. What we're going through right now, Trevor went through in spring. He's definitely a step ahead," Cave said. "He's working hard and he looks good. Right now we're all just working hard trying to catch up and learn everything."

ROOKIES DEALING WITH TOUGH CAMP: All freshmen have to adjust to the rigors of a college training camp that is nothing like anything any of them have had to deal with before.

"It's definitely the hardest thing I've done in my life, by far. Like I told some other guys, one day of this camp was harder than like two weeks of my high school camp," Goodman said. "From the first day you're really sore and I'm still sore now two weeks later the same. That just goes to show that we've been working hard and they don't let you slack or anything. For two weeks it's no joke and you're just kind of business. But we kind of expected that."

Golic is also enjoying the hard work.

"Camp's been going good, obviously it's tough, it's Notre Dame football camp," he said. "It's no joke anymore, it's not high school. I've just been working hard getting through it day by day and doing the best I can out there."

Fauria also noted that it is clear he is no longer in high school.

"It's tough, it's different than high school of course, it's Division I football. It's a little faster, a little more up tempo, guys are stronger that you're going against, but I'm getting through it pretty well," he said. "I expected it, I was prepared."

Along with the faster-paced workouts and increased meetings, there is also the issue of facing top-notch talent at every position.

"I'm going versus David Bruton and Terrail Lambert and that's pretty hard," Goodman said. "They're a lot better than any high school player I've ever played against and it's a lot different but the competition is great and that's what we need to get better."

BUMPS AND BRUISES: A few of the freshmen have been banged up early in camp, but like Weis said earlier, nothing seems too serious. Fauria has been hampered by an injury, but has not missed any practice time.

"It's my hip. It's just a little sore. I'm fine, I'm working through it," Fauria said. "Maybe in high school I would have sat through it, but I can't afford that. I want to get better."

Linebacker Anthony McDonald has not been as fortunate and has been out with a hamstring injury since the fifth day of camp when he heard something pop while trying to cover tight end Kyle Rudolph.

"I've been doing a lot of rehab for it, so it's coming along pretty good. I'm making a lot of progress so hopefully I can get back in the mix pretty soon," McDonald said. "It's really frustrating. I don't think any freshman wants to come in here and pull their hamstring during camp when you're trying to prove yourself. I'm recovering really good. The coaches are really encouraging and hopefully I can get back out there and help the team."

Defensive back Dan McCarthy suffered a neck injury late in his senior season of high school, but also feels that he is on his way back to full speed.

"It started feeling better once I got the release from the doctor to start doing physical activity. Right away I started getting my strength back and started working, getting after it," McCarthy said. "Now I don't even notice it, it's just a thing I put behind me and I'm going to move forward."

FAMILY TIES: McCarthy is one of three freshmen in this class that are continuing family legacies by suiting up for the Irish. McCarthy joins older brother Kyle in the defensive backfield.

"It's a great experience. I really look up to him and he's doing a great job. It's great that he's a great mentor and inspiration to me," McCarthy said of his brother. "I can look at him and he's always doing the right thing. And also him being my brother and a great friend it's a lot of fun being on the same field as him."

Nate Montana joined the squad as a preferred walk-on, but said that playing the same position at the same school of his Hall of Fame father would not have been much different than playing quarterback at any other school.

"I figured I'm still going to get compared to my dad no matter where I go anyway. So to me it didn't matter that much," Montana said. "I kind of grew up with Notre Dame. I still looked around, but Notre Dame was definitely the place for me."

While Montana has seen plenty of tapes from his father's All-Pro NFL days, he has never seen any games from his dad in college.

"I've never seen him play at Notre Dame," he said. "I never got to see that. I never asked him about I actually."

Golic has an even stronger family bond in South Bend with a father and two uncles that played at Notre Dame and a younger brother on the way, but he also said that he doesn't expect it to be too tough to follow his family elders.

"No added pressure. It's just a great opportunity to build on a good legacy that's already been here," Golic said. "I'm excited about being able to meet some goals as far as living up to them and also doing the things that I want to do and becoming the player that I want to be. (Notre Dame has) felt like a second home for a long time and now obviously getting to see it more from the inside it's just made it feel that much more special just to be out here."

HOME AWAY FROM HOME?: Notre Dame has practically been a first home for Cave, who grew up in nearby Granger, that is at least until camp started.

"I haven't been home in three weeks because of camp we had to stay on campus. It's been about three weeks but I'm going to try to go home (on Friday)," Cave said. "When I'm here I really don't even feel like I'm that close to home because I'm so busy with everything and you really don't think about it. It's like being in a whole different place." Top Stories