Linebacker Paul Posluszny arrived at Penn State in 2003 without All-American status and few expected him to turn into an impact player. But by the time he was a sophomore Posluszny had earned All-Big Ten honors before winning the Bednarik and Butkus awards and being selected as an All-American in 2005. As a senior, Posluszny won his second straight Bednarik Award and became the first Penn State linebacker to twice be named an AP All-American.
Now Notre Dame is hoping that Posluszny's younger brother David can approach the kind of success that his brother had at Penn State. Like Paul, David comes to college as an under-the-radar prospect, ranked as a three-star recruit by Scout.com, but has the potential to do some good things.
On Signing Day, Charlie Weis talked about a visit he had at the Posluszny's house during the recruiting season.
"A lot of people want to stereotype him as Paul's little brother, you know, but recently I was in the home and visiting and Paul had come down for the visit, and I'm sitting there and I'm looking at the two of them, and David has gotten himself up to over 220 pounds, and he's just one rocked up unit with good football instincts," Weis said. "You just see there's something about the kid that when you're around the kid. He's not a young man of many words. He's kind of a quiet kid. But when he plays football, he plays football with that hard nosed mentality that makes you look forward to his career as it progresses here at Notre Dame."
The athletic pedigree in the Posluszny family runs deeper than just Paul. The oldest Posluszny boy, Stan played professional baseball. David says that his entire family is close.
"I'm very close with both of my brothers, both of my sisters. My whole family is a very tight-knit family," David said.
While David always wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps on the gridiron, for awhile it did not seem like it would be at the same position.
"When I was freshman and a sophomore, thinking if I was fortunate enough to play in college I always thought I would be a safety. But my junior year I got moved to linebacker and that's when I started to get recruited," he said. "My coach talked to me and said, ‘You'd be the best to play linebacker.' Then I started to play it and I fell in love with the position and I'm just really happy how everything worked out."
Weis and his staff obviously saw potential in David as a linebacker because his high school career was marred by injuries and limited his time on the field. Between his junior and senior years, Posluszny missed 11 games and registered just 38 tackles and a sack last season.
"My junior year was very frustrating, I got off to a fast start, I was doing pretty good and then the third game of the year I banged up my shoulder. I tried to come back too early from it and it just made it worse, it devastated my junior year," he said. "My senior year unfortunately I had a concussion that kind of messed that up too. It's very frustrating when you work so hard in the offseason and then one play goes wrong and you're banged up for the rest of the year, but that's just how football is and you just have to work through it."
Now that he is at Notre Dame, Posluszny wants to put those injuries behind him and try to get better.
"Right now there is just so many things to learn. I'm just trying to soak everything up, learn everything I can from Coach (John) Tenuta, learn everything I can from the older guys," he said. "Right now I'm just trying to learn everything I can to try to make the transition as smooth as possible."
Posluszny was not too familiar with Tenuta as a coach at Georgia Tech, but he did know a little about the Yellow Jackets' style and is excited to be playing in that same scheme in college.
"His knowledge of the game is incredible. He's very smart, he's a very intense guy and he demands a lot out of us, which is a great thing. I feel very fortunate to be able to learn from a mentor like him," Posluszny said of his linebacker coach. "It's fun to be a part of a defense like that, that has that mentality, playing downhill, always attacking. It's great to be able to do that."
DIFFERENCES BIG FOR ROOKIES: Like all college freshmen, this year's Notre Dame defensive class is learning just how big the jump from high school to college really is. Like always, speed is a big factor.
"It's definitely the speed of the game, just everything happens a lot faster," defensive lineman Sean Cwynar said. "The guys are so much bigger and stronger. You're not the only guy running around there that's really good, everyone is really, really good."
Fellow defensive lineman Brandon Newman also mentioned the faster pace, but pegged another difference as the biggest for him.
"I know everyone says game speed and things like that and it seems cliché but that is one of the biggest things. But technique is the biggest thing I think for defensive linemen and offensive linemen," he said. "Back in high school I could just manhandle people because of my strength, but if you don't have technique you don't have anything, so that is one of the main things that I'm working on personally."
"The amount of reps. In high school you're the big fish in the small pond, but now you're a small fish in the bigger pond. Everything is more organized than high school football," said Williams. "It's more efficient than high school football. Here it's all time management, I guess that's the biggest thing, time management."
Slaughter also agreed that time was a big factor. "The time length. We never go this long in high school, so it's kind of different," he said.
CAMP TOUGHER THAN SOME EXPECTED: Defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore admitted that preseason camp was even tougher than he thought it would be, but not because of the physical nature.
"It actually is harder than I thought it was. The thing that kills me is the meetings. We've got a lot of meetings and stuff like that, but other than that it's pretty good. Just a lot of information, you've got to really pay attention," he said. "At first I was kind of overwhelmed, but now I've kind of adjusted to it, so I think I'll be all right."
Newman said that he had a pretty good idea of what awaited him, but mentioned that it was still difficult.
"It's the first time that I've ever been through that type of experience. It was rough at first, but once you get used to it and it comes everyday you really don't know what day it is. You just go through camp. It really is a great experience because you really do get better," Newman said. "Everybody gets bumps and bruises and things like that but it's all better for the season. It's about as hard as I figured it would be. I say that coming into it thinking, ‘Oh my god, this is going to be the hardest thing I've ever done.' It's about as challenging as I expected it."
TRYING TO GET BETTER AND GET ON BUS: That was a familiar line during Freshman Media Day last week, but a couple of the defensive players offered a bit more in terms of goals.
Williams offered the straight party line saying, "I'm just going out there to work hard and just trying to get on the bus. That's really my main goal, just get on the bus and help the team win."
Safety Dan McCarthy is recovering from a serious neck injury, so his objectives are a little different as he tries to get back.
"I don't think it's changed my mindset as far as the injury. Coming into college I'm trying to get better and help the team anyway I can," he said. "I'm working just like everyone else, I'm doing all of the drills in practice. I think it's just up to the coaches, if they want to take a little more cautious approach to it, but that's up to them."
Cwynar, who enrolled over the winter, is trying to build off of his performance during spring.
"I think I've been playing pretty well. I think I'm playing a lot better than I was playing in the spring. I just feel like I'm just fitting into the defense a lot more and understanding the schemes of what we're trying to accomplish," Cwynar said. "Trying to get better, just trying to do the best I can everyday at practice and then whatever happens happens. Just try my best and I trust our coaching staff. They really know what they're doing, they've been in this game for a long time, so I'm sure they'll do what's best for the team."
Newman probably had the most interesting and honest answer when he talked about the role the older guys play in what he wants to accomplish as a freshman.
"I'm really trying to get myself better to help out the team whenever I can. I try my best to learn so they don't tell me the same thing everyday, so I can learn new things everyday," he said. "If they tell me to stay low this day, I don't want them to tell me to stay low the next day because I want to master that so I can learn something new to help better myself. The punch off the ball, getting my hands on the offensive lineman, that's one thing that they told me earlier that I'm really starting to get better on."
NEWMAN WANTS TO TRADE SPOTS: Newman was asked about his career plans after football and said that he would like to stand where many of the people asking the questions were.
"(I want to) try to be in broadcast journalism in any station I can get in to. I want to major in (Film, Television and Theater) here at Notre Dame," he said. "I think that would be the best thing to get me to my passion, which is journalism."
When asked what kind of interview his head coach would be, Newman replied, "He likes me, so I think it would probably be an easy interview."
KLM EAGER TO SEE NEW FACES: It's not that Lewis-Moore is sick of his teammates, it's just that he wants to meet some new people which will happen this week as school starts.
"I'm actually pretty excited about getting to meet people and just mingle with everybody other than football players. It's not a bad thing, mingling with football players, but just kind of meet somebody other than football players," he said. "I like to talk a little bit and just kind of be out there and have a little fun in life. Since I've been on campus there hasn't been a lot of students because it's the summer and two-a-days, so I haven't seen a lot of students. But it's everything that I expected. You've got to balance out the social life, you've got to balance out the classroom."