Archive for the ‘Wu-Tang’ Category

Wu Am I? Tha Flailing Fanatical Killah & Half-Cut Skeleton

August 17, 2009

Welcome to the final edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 35 & 36…

Trevor Robinson #78
Offensive Guard
6’5″ 305 lbs.
Sophomore
Elkhorn, Nebraska
Wu Name: Tha Flailing Fanatical Killah

In what was arguably the nations number one recruiting class of 2008, Trevor Robinson stood out. We all knew he would become a very good player- early. In what was a hotly battled recruiting war with home state Nebraska, Notre Dame overcame the Tom Osbourne influence, as they picked up a commitment from Trevor in mid-December of 2007. Robinson played in 11 games, while starting 3 of them as well. Trevor is only the fifth ND freshman to ever start at Notre Dame. He also became the catalyst of Chris Stewart. If Stewart wasn’t playing very well, in would come Robinson- and then Stewart would come back in and kill somebody. It was frustrating at times, because Trevor looked like our best lineman and he only played half of the time.

Robinson is partaking in a completely different role this year, as he sits atop the depth chart at right guard. Time will tell if the off-season changes involving Dan Wenger, Eric Olsen, Chris Stewart, and Robinson produce the results Irish fans are looking for- but it’s a step in the right direction. They said/ we want the 5 best players along the offensive line, and Trevor certainly fits that part. I expect exceeded expectations- so should Trevor.

Scott Smith #41
Linebacker
6’3″ 245 lbs.
Senior (5th)
Highland Park, Illinois
Wu Name: Half-Cut Skeleton

Scott was one of those many 3 star prospects that made up the incoming class of 2005, so its easy to see how he has gotten lost in the shuffle of mediocrity. The Irish secured a commitment from Scott after he turned down Michigan State, UCLA, and Purdue. During his time at Notre Dame, Scott has become a special teams warrior. Sure, he has been a reserve linebacker during his tenure, but his niche has been his willingness to hurdle his body at fast speeds on the different return and kick units. His unselfishness and determination has won over the hearts of the team and the staff.

Scott was not originally on this list. He wasn’t even on my list of notable players- not on this list. However, a last minute tweak was in order after his teammates voted him as the Special Teams Captain over fan favorite, and Wu Am I member- Mike Anello. What should we expect from Scott this year? More of the same grit, but perhaps with a little more fire after his rise to a leadership position. He has proved himself to be a leader, and special teams specialists should be as respected as any other position. Sweet justice for Scott would be a game changing play (forced fumble, game-changing hit, etc.) perhaps in one of the biggest games of the year on October 17th. I think he is dreaming of this- as we all are and should be.

(Editors Note: Look for the “It’s Wu-Wrap”, an overview of the Wu Am I series coming later this week.)

Wu Am I? Jolly Observer & Tha Pesty Commander

August 14, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 33 & 34…

Paul Duncan #72
Offensive Tackle
6’7″ 315 lbs.
Senior (5th)
Dallas, Georgia
Wu Name: Jolly Observer

Paul Duncan was one of seven players in the 2005 recruiting class, that committed to Notre Dame in that last month before signing day. He spurned offers from such programs as LSU and Oklahoma to head to South Bend and become a member of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Paul saw a decent amount of playing time his freshman year, and was on pace to start for Notre Dame in his sophomore year- until Sam Young stepped on campus. Paul started the 2007 season as the left tackle, but was moved over to the right side after Young suffered a right wrist injury that moved him into the left spot. After the 2007 season, Paul had surgery on his hip following his junior year and redshirted his senior year.

Now Paul is healthy and slated as the number one left tackle since spring ball.It will remain to be seen how much improvement Duncan has made since the 2007 season -where honestly, no offensive lineman looked any good for most of the season. At 6’7″ and 315 pounds, Duncan has the size to succeed, but the real question is his athleticism and his feet. Mike Turkovich did a surprisingly good job last year as he was plugged into the LT position, and now it is time to see if Duncan can do the same. If he is able to do what Turk did- or exceed it, than this line has a chance to really help make this offense very explosive.

John Goodman #81
Wide Receiver
6’3″ 203 lbs.
Sophomore
Ft Wayne, Indiana
Wu Name: Pesty Commander

This was a tough choice for the 34th chamber. I took Goodman over Deion Walker, Robby Parris, and Shaq Evans. I sincerely think that this is where he belongs. John had a ton of offers coming out of high school, such as Michigan and Purdue, but chose the Irish early. John was part of a recruiting class that included Deion Walker, and Michael Floyd. That’s pretty serious company- and he will have the chance to prove himself this year.

John has a not so secret weapon- he can throw the rock. John played QB during his senior year in high school, and now he owns the distance record of over 80 yards against fellow Irish players Dayne Crist and Jimmy Clausen. That’s why I have him in this slot over the other 2 WR’s mentioned. John will not only be able to provide a good 4th, and sometimes 3rd, option at WR- but he will be a dynamic addition to “trick it up.” John keeps getting compared to Jeff Samardzija thanks to his skin pigment (meaning: he’s a white WR), however- he is much more like a Rhema McKnight with his quickness and his ability to create after the catch. Goodman will make some amazing plays this year, but on what end of the ball?

Wu Am I? Tha Prolific Polynesian Prince & Cheeky Delinquent

August 10, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 31 & 32…

Manti Te’o #5
Linebacker
6’2″ 244 lbs.
Freshman
Laie, Hawai’i
Wu Name: Tha Prolific Polynesian Prince

Everyone knows the path that Te’o took to Notre Dame. Everyone. Why? Because he was the number one defensive player coming out of high school- and perhaps the best player overall. He is certainly the highest ranked defensive player that Notre Dame has got in a long- long time. There is really no other way to say how huge this commitment was other than, “WHEEEEEEEE!!!!” Keeping Te’o away from Satan- the Poodle was equally as important.

Now on to more important things- such as playing time. Whether it happens right away or not- Te’o will become a starter this year. I’ll go ahead and say that I fully expect him to win the job in fall camp. The real question is- which job. The linebacking corps is a solid amd deep group that has players that are very flexible. Te’o will probably be either the Will or Mike backer. I think the staff really wants Brian Smith as the Will, so it’s just a question of Te’o grasping the defensive playbook mentally and beating out Toryan Smith (another member of the 36 Chambers). I am not one of those guys that think that the high ranked freshman coming in should, or can start right away- but this is a different matter all together. Manti-Mania is in full effect at Subway Domer.

Brandon Newman #99
Defensive Tackle
6′ 1″ 295 lbs.
Sophomore
Louisville, Kentucky
Wu Name: Cheeky Delinquent

Brandon Newman was one of those players that I thought ND just HAD to have. He was a high ranked defensive tackle from the south, and looked like he would fit beautifully into what was the Irish 3-4 defense. The defensive scheme has changed a little, but Newman remains a guy that ND wants as a gap filler- regardless of the front. Brandon was redshirted his freshman year and used that time to help reshape his body and learn the system.

This was a hard pick for me. I chose Brandon over guys like Tyler Stockton and Emeka Nwankwo. The Fighting Irish staff love Brandon’s strength and agility- and so do I. Newman has always surprised a few people since high school, and I imagine he will surprise a few more people this year. He will be involved in the rotation with Ian Williams who is slated as the starter. If Newman can come in and just play solid- he will have an impact. I don’t expect him to just be solid however, I expect him to make plays.

Wu Am I? Shaolin Tha Ill-Figure & Radiophonic Oddity

August 5, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 29 & 30…

Raeshon McNeil #8
Cornerback
6’0″ 190 lbs.
Senior
Cooleemee, North Carolina
Wu Name: Shaolin Tha Ill-Figure

Raeshon McNeil was one of 5 freshman defensive backs to arrive at Notre Dame in the summer of 2006. McNeil and Walls were the celebrated duo, that Irish fans hoped would change the fortune of the pass defense- which had turned into a very real nightmare. Instead, it was a slower process than some anticipated- yet a normal one as well. McNeil should have red-shirted his freshman year but saw mop up duty and special teams action. His sophomore year saw McNeil playing a larger role as the primary nickel back, and he showed great aptitude towards the art of blitzing. In the spring before his junior year, McNeil was touted as the retuning nickel back, and key back-up at corner. That changed once Walls left school- leaving a big hole at a vital position. McNeil played well, his junior year at corner. Irish fans will always bitch and moan about a few plays here and there, but McNeil was steady and had 2 INT’s and 11 pass break ups.

2009 presents another challenge for McNeil. The return of Darrin Walls, the emergence of Robert Blanton, and solid play at the nickel from Sergio Brown- means the competition will be fierce. Through it all, I believe Raeshon will take these challenges head on, and make a big impact for the Irish defense. Starter or not- McNeil will be playing quite a bit throughout the entire game. Just don’t be too surprised when he is making plays-whether against the pass, against the run, or as a pass rusher. Raeshon will be consistent, and Raeshon will cut you down.

Kapron Lewis-Moore #89
Defensive End
6’4″ 257 lbs.
Sophomore
Weatherford, Texas
Wu Name: Radiophonic Oddity

KLM was a last minute surprise for the incoming class of 2008. Kapron pulled the trigger one day before signing day (from what I remember), spurning Texas A&M- a school KLM was previously committed to before the switch. Lewis-Moore was touted as a premier pass rusher and had infinite potential as well as room to grow on his wide frame. Kapron redshirted his freshman year, but came into the spring as the #1 defensive end! That says a lot about how the staff feels about KLM. An injury stopped what any kind of real look we could have gotten of Kapron.

So, yeah. We really don’t know a lot about Kapron Lewis-Moore. We know what we have been told- and we can look at depth charts. There is room for help at the end. I think that KLM could have probably seen the field last year, but the staff probably wanted another year of shine before they unleashed this ravenous beast upon mankind. I like that theory- and that’s what I’m sticking with.

Wu Am I? Tha Dreadlocked Destroya & Phantom Overlord

August 3, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 27 & 28…

Sergio Brown #31
Safety
6′ 2″ 205 lbs.
Senior
Maywood, Illinois
Wu Name: Tha Dreadlocked Destroya

Sergio came to Notre Dame in the fall/summer of 2006 as part of a large 28 man class. Sergio chose the Irish over schools like Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Brown was considered to be the biggest “sleeper” prospect in this class. He was praised for his athleticism and his prototypical size for the safety position. Sergio’s first two year at Notre Dame were mirror images of themselves from an individual point of view. He saw very limited game experience at Safety, but was a big contributor on special teams. Last year, Brown battled Kyle McCarthy for the vacant safety spot once occupied by Tommy Zbikowski. The competition was considered neck and neck as spring ended, but something happened that helped decide the outcome of this position battle. Darrin Walls left Notre Dame for personal reasons. This opened up a huge hole at corner, which was filled by Raeshon McNeil- but in return opened up another huge hole at nickel back. Brown filled that hole- and did a damn good job at it too.

If you are at least a short time follower of Subway Domer, than you may already know my feelings on Sergio Brown and Kyle McCarthy. You just don’t bench the returning tam leader in tackles- or give him a diminished role. I like McCarthy, and consider him a very tough football player, but he is not in the same league with Brown when it comes to overall skills. Sergio is one of those guys that in hindsight should have been redshirted. But nevermind that. In a year where the nickelback will be as important as any other position on the defense, Sergio should shine. Notre Dame plays enough teams that run out of a spread formation, that Brown’s minutes will be up and he will most assuredly be making some big plays for the irish. I’m telling ya- watch out. He may of came in, as a sleeper- but don’t be sleeping on him, ’cause you might get took.

Mike Ragone #83
Tight End
6′ 5″ 251 lbs.
Junior
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Wu Name: Phantom Overlord

When Mike Ragone committed to Notre Dame in 2007, Irish fans felt like they were getting the type of tight end that Notre Dame both needed, and deserved. Mike had incredible speed to go along with a very big body. Mike played some in his freshman year, but mostly made an impact on special teams as he tutored under John Carlson. Irish fans (and haters) probably remember the ass-beating Ragone and Travis Thomas unleashed on a Penn State player. Mike was poised for a big year in 2008, but a knee injury forced him to redshirt last season. Mike’s regression, saw the emergence of another young tight end in Kyle Rudolph.

Make NO mistake about it- Notre Dame needs Ragone to stay healthy and become productive. When the Charlie Weis offense is rolling, it is usually out of a two tight end formation. Mike may have lost out on the #1 TE spot to Rudolph (who is considered one of the best in the NCAA right now), but because of that style that Weis like to play- Ragone will be of equal importance. One thing that Mike brings to the table better than Rudolph is attitude. Ragone can be a mean motherfucker. I remember an “insider report” about Ragone calling out every member of the 2007 offensive line by calling them a ” bunch of fucking pussies.” Whether that is all true or not, Mike is an intense player that the team can feed off of as they grind out games. Ragone is an important piece of the 2009 puzzle, and he could help tip the scale for an offense that is virtually intact from last year.

Wu Am I? Masta Cow & Tha Desperate Vandal

July 30, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 25 & 26…

Dan Wenger #51
Center
6’4″ 302 lbs.
Senior
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Wu Name: Masta Cow

The future was so bright for Dan when he committed to Notre Dame in December of 2005. He chose the irish over a host of schools, but most notably; Florida and Oklahoma.Unfortunately, Dans progress was slowed by injury in his freshman year and he had to red-shirt. He did practice about half the year, and was mentioned by the staff as a rising talent that was doing very well on the scout team. In 2007, Wenger started out at right guard and started the last two games of the season at center. 2008 saw Wenger starting at center, but something just wasn’t right. He was called the “weak link” on the weakest unit. That’s about as bad as on can be described.

It has been rumored that, in 2009, Eric Olsen will slide over to center and Trevor Robinson will move to left guard, while Wenger would be forced to the bench. I have no way to confirm, or deny that that situation will happen. So, why have such an unknown on this list? Because in one way or another, Wenger will impact this team greatly. He is known as a very hard worker. I believe that if he takes his work ethic and applies it to what Verducci is trying to get across- he will be a nice surprise for the offensive line. If he doesn’t, Notre Dame may be forced to start a guy at center that is not a “natural” center. This is just as important as the left tackle. Camp starts in a little over a week. The answers should start to surface some short time after that. I hope- and i believe that Wenger can overcome the demons that are haunting him and produce.

Toryan Smith #49
Linebacker
6’1″ 244 lbs.
Senior
Rome, Georgia
Wu Name: Tha Desperate Vandal

Toryan was a wanted man. He held offers from all over the country, including; Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and others. He chose Notre Dame in December of 2005 after Notre Dame accepted a bid to play in the Fiesta Bowl. Toryan saw a little action in his freshman year, as he was used on the goaline and on special teams. In 2007, Toryan saw his role increase some- but basically he did exactly what he did in 2006. He did not play against Navy in 2007, and after watching his play against the Middies in 2008, I wonder if the game would have ended differently had he played. Smith was very much the same player in all of his first 3 seasons.

2009. Smith has been listed as the starter at Mike in 2009, after Brian Smith was moved outside in the spring. How long will this last? Some believe it is just a matter of time before Te’o comes in as a freshman and starts- whether at OLB or MLB. Where would this leave Toryan? Playing the same role as he has his entire career. Like Wenger, Smith makes a huge impact in a different kind of way. Will he be able to finally become that big, hard hitting LB in the middle- that is entrenched as the starter? Or will he be surpassed? Personally, I think he will see the most playing time against running teams such as Pitt, Navy, and Michigan State. His lack of speed has been his Achilles heel, but some inside the program have hinted that he looks much quicker in 2009. He is desperate in his final year. Desperate and hungry. I like that combination.

Wu Am I? Thick Killah & Homicidal Terra-hawk

July 25, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 23 & 24…

Eric Olsen #55
Offensive Guard
6’5″ 303 lbs.
Senior
Brooklyn, New York
Wu Name: Thick Killah

Although Eric was considered a 4 star prospect and the #2 ranked player in the state of New York, he didn’t receive a whole lot of attention from the fanbase or the media when he chose Notre Dame over schools like Miami Fl., North Carolina, and Boston College. He stayed quiet during his freshman year while playing a little over 20 minutes (probably should have red-shirted), and became the fulltime starter at guard for the Irish during the middle of the 2007 season. In the spring of 2008, he opened the eyes of a conservative Irish fanbase, as he became very aggressive in practice. He was involved in more than a few fights, and was videotaped while yelling, “Fuck you defense! Fuck you!” I fell in love instantly.

2009 should be a much better year for Eric than in 2008- if he can stay healthy. One of the worst moments of the 2008 season was when Boston College defensive tackle and future first round pick by the Green Bay Packers, BJ Raji, basically threw Olsen back 5 yards into the ballcarrier (James Aldridge) and knocked said ballcarrier on his ass. Ouch! It should be noted that 1. Olsen was on two wounded legs, and 2. Raji was an animal and future NFL first rounder. I would bet against anyone who thinks that Olsen hasn’t replayed that play in his mind a hundred times while chewing on glass as he works out. I think that play, and the help of the new offensive line coach, will turn Olsen into the animal that he really is in his heart. BTW- There are a few rumors going around about Olsen moving over to center to replace Wenger, and Trevor Robinson starting at what is currently Olsen’s left guard spot. I’m not sure what will happen, but you can be sure that Olsen will be right in the middle of it… swinging.

Robert Blanton #12
Cornerback
6’1″ 185 lbs.
Sophomore
Matthews, North Carolina
Wu Name: Homicidal Terra-hawk

Robert Blanton is a special kid- and he will let you and anyone else within shouting distance know about it. When Blanton committed to Notre Dame in June of 2007, he passed up on a host of defensive powerhouses such as Georgia and Virginia Tech, to name just a few. You have to give this kid credit (and the whole incoming class of 2008 for that matter) for sticking to his commitment, even after the dismal 2007 season. Irish fans were treated to a very confident athlete that saw action very early in his career. The most memorable Blanton moment from 2008 was probably his INT return for TD against Purdue to spark what looked to be a somewhat flat Irish team. Personally, I liked the U$C pick. It gave me some hope in what turned out to be another ass-whooping in the Colosseum.

The loss of Darrin Walls last year really opened the door for Blanton to kick down and destroy. He showed up and played better than Lambert and at times better than McNeil. Don’t think that Blanton is sweating his playing time with the return of Walls. He’s probably telling anyone that will listen that he is going to run this shit. And perhaps he will. Notre Dame will be more talented and deeper in the secondary than at any point this decade, and Blanton could end up being the best overall corner on the roster. No matter how the playing time splits up between Walls, McNeil, Blanton , and even Gary Gray, I fully expect RJ to have a major impact and make some very big plays. I’m thinking pick 6 against Tommy Trojan. FU$C.

Wu Am I? Tha 3rd World Dictator & Tha Womanly Panther

July 21, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 21 & 22…

Mike Anello #37
Gunner
5’10” 170 lbs.
Senior
Orland Park, Illinois
Wu Name: Tha 3rd World Dictator

There was no recruitment of Mike Anello- at least not at the hands of the Notre Dame football staff. No. Not Mike Anello. Not the greatest gunner in all of college football. No the little engine that could, did not have coaches from around the country drooling at the prospect of having Mike on their team. It’s funny- I’d bet that just about every program wishes that they had him now. As a former walk-on, Mike has to earn his scholarship every day. And , for the past few years he has done that.

Anello now enters his 5th year at Notre dame. He was invited to play his final year of eligibility, and was able to tell his parents that they don’t need to pay tuition- again. His name has been turned into Irish legend as every Saturday we all get to watch Mike streak down the sideline and make the plays and tackles that no one else gets out of the gunner position on both the kickoff and punt teams. If the Irish are going to continue to improve in 2009 and make a BCS bowl, the special teams play will need to continue to improve. The Notre Dame kickoff unit was perhaps the best kickoff unit in the country (stats that I know exist will back this up). Who do we owe a lot of this success to? The motherfucking dictator- that’s who.

Jordan Cowart #60
Long Snapper
6’2″ 225 lbs.
Freshman
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Wu Name: Tha Womanly Panther

Jordan is the first freshman to appear in the Wu Am I series- and for good reason. He has the best chance of ALL of the incoming freshman, to start and play in every game in 2009. That’s an impact player. Here’s a few blurbs from “The Subway Domer Recruiting Spectacular” published earlier this year by yours truly with some help from The Brawling Hibernian:

Subway Domer: People were generally confused when Cowart committed to the Irish. Why? Weis is taking drastic measures to improve the special teams play at Notre Dame, and this is a key element to solid play. Remember some of the snaps and holds that Walker had to deal with this year? JJ Jansen was Notre Dame’s LS for a few years and we rarely had an issue. This is a solid pick-up at a position of need, and in all likelihood, Cowart should start this year. If Notre Dame had a guy like Cowart last year, Braxton Cave would not have burned a year of eligibility. That’s important.

Brawling Hibernian: I can already hear the wailing over this one. “Why give someone who’s just a long-snapper a scholarship?” Just a long-snapper? JUST a long-snapper?! Do you people know how hard it is to be a long-snapper? First of all, you spend more time bent over than Liberace’s pool boy on Quaaludes. Then, should you screw up, your team ends up more fucked than, well, Liberace’s pool boy on Quaaludes. In other words, unless you like getting the business end of a creepy, dead pianist, you better entrust long-snapping to a professional. Welcome aboard, Jordan!

The Fighting Irish HAVE to play better on ALL special teams, and I think Jordan will make a huge impact on the team- and he may do it without his name ever being called.

Wu Am I? Tha Bitter Bandit & Sabre-Toothed Portillo

July 13, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 19 & 20…

Michael Floyd #3
Wide Reciever
6′ 3″ 215 lbs.
Sophomore
St. Paul, Minnesota
Wu Name: Tha Bitter Bandit

I remember the recruitment of Mike Floyd well. Just about every program in the country was after Floyd, and there is no question that he was one of the top WR’s coming out of high school that year. Every week there would be a different rumor about Floyd- whether it be one that stated he was an Ohio State lean, or that he was a Notre Dame lean. The news kept rolling in- as did the losses for the 2007 Irish team. That’s what make Floyd’s commitment after the U$C game such a shock to most recruiting insiders. I was there. I witnessed the thrashing of the Irish team by the Dirty Sanchez and his steroid crew. We looked awful… we looked beyond repair. Somehow, Floyd was mature enough to see past the growing pains and decided ND was the place for him. Fast forward to 2008: Micheal Floyd becomes a beast. Consider this, Floyd was out for the last three games of the year Navy (knee injury on first drive), Syracuse, and U$C, and he had minimal playing time against San Diego State. Those were 2 losses and 2 close wins. Without Floyd, even as good as Tate was, the offense looked a lot like the 2007 version. Floyd’s name somehow gets lost in the mix with Julio Jones ( AL.) and AJ Green (GA.), but he is as good as both of those players- if not better.

Floyd should be able to increase on his record-breaking freshman year that saw him total 48 receptions for 719 yards and 7 TD’s. With Golden Tate lining up on the other side, Notre Dame creates an enormous mismatch for opposing defenders. Floyd has gotten a little bigger than what he was during his freshman year, and with his ability to jump up and grab the ball at the highest point- Floyd should not be denied 13-15 TD’s this year. As long as Michael stays healthy this year, I see no real reason that he shouldn’t be in the All-American discussion.

Hafis Williams #79
Defensive Tackle
6’2″ 306 lbs.
Sophomore
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Wu Name: Sabre-Toothed Portillo

The commitment of Hafis Williams went widely uncelebrated. We had very little video to see of Hafis and he was pretty quiet throughout the entire recruiting process. He had a couple of really good offers in Notre Dame, Penn State, and Maryland. He was a Weis guy. A hard working Jersey kid that Notre Dame craved at a position that was in need of talent and size. Hafis committed to Notre Dame in early May of his junior year. He redshirted his freshman year and became a key figure on the scout team that raised more than enough eyebrows.

Entering his sophomore year, Hafis was slated as a key member of the rotation along the defensive line in the spring, and impressed coaches and media alike with his hard-nosed play. The Fighting Irish need big, able bodies along its defensive front, and Hafis is primed to get the job done. He will still enter the 2009 season as a virtual unknown nationally, but I truly feel that he will make his name early in the season. Notre Dame needs its young defensive lineman to perform this year to help a very talented linebacker corps and an insanely talented secondary.I look for Williams to get the job done and start to really make a name for himself.

Wu Am I? Tha Human Planet & Masta Destroyer

July 6, 2009

Welcome to another edition of Wu Am I? for the 2009 season. Once again- I am trying to identify the 36 players of impact for the 2009 squad. So without any further bullshit, I open chambers 17 & 18…

Chris Stewart #59
Offensive Guard
6’5″ 337 lbs.
Senior
Spring, Texas
Wu Name: Tha Human Planet

Chris was the biggest recruit to ever commit to Notre Dame… literally. At 6’5″ and over 360 pounds- Stewart became the largest man ever enrolled at the university and showed up as an early admit in January of 2006. He needs no other Wu Name than the one he received when he arrived- Human Planet. He didn’t make that big of a splash right away though. He redshirted his freshman year, and in the spring of the 2007 season, he was moved to nose tackle to see if he could anchor the line in Notre Dame’s new 3-4 defense. The experiment didn’t work, and it may have set Chris back in his development as an offensive lineman. He played as an extra offensive tackle in the jumbo formation in 2007 and at times he played like his physical presence would suggest. He also looked like he took a play or two off- not good for a struggling line. In 2008 Chris became the starter at right guard and formed a gigantic duo with him and big Sam Young on the right side. Old habits from the previous year set in, and Chris took a few plays off from time to time. When this happened, he was replaced by freshman sensation Trevor Robinson. Trevor would come in kick some ass- and then Stewart would come back out and just destroy people.

A strong enough pattern is there to suggest that Chris will become the starter in 2009, but will be replaced from time to time because he will either take a play off, or nurse an injury (he was hurt quite a bit in 2008)- then he will re-enter the game and kill people. Call me crazy, but I think Stewart will reinvent himself in 2009 as a consistent destroyer of those who would dare line themselves up against a planet. I think Verducci will be able to light a fire so big and so bright under his ass, that if he passed gas- half of the stadium would be vaporized. Chris has very quick feet for a man of his size and he is also very athletic. The NFL loves lineman like Chris- if he can just stay consistent. I’ve seen more obscure and less physically gifted players go very high on draft day and I will dare to say that I think Stewart could make himself a first round draft pick in either 2010 or 2011, should he exercise his 5th year option. Are you sensing that I think Stewart could dominate in 2009? Good- because I’m not sure if I was that clear.

Kyle McCarthy #28
Safety
6’1″ 209 lbs.
Senior
Youngstown, Ohio
Wu Name: Masta Destroyer

Kyle was relatively small potatoes coming out of Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio. He was rated as a 3 star athlete by Rivals.com and a 2 star cornerback by Scout.com. He played both quarterback and defensive back while in high school and held offers from Ohio State and Navy among others. Add an extra star or two next to his name and he is eerily similar to the former star he replaced- Tommy Zbikowski. McCarthy’s rise to Irish starter was quite a different path than Tommy Z’s however. It was more gradual. Kyle redshirted his freshman year and than was a special teams standout his sophomore season in 2006. In 2007 he saw his playing time double as he continued to kick ass on special teams as well as spell relief in the secondary. He saw the first start of his career in 2007 against Navy (we shouldn’t hold it against him). Than after a heated battle in the spring and summer- Kyle took over as the starter at the safety spot vacated by Zbikowski. All he did, was lead the Fighting Irish in tackles with 110.

McCarthy is back for his 5th year in a Fighting Irish uniform and he looks to help lead Notre Dame back to a BCS game- and perhaps more. Although he has many some similar qualities that Zbikowski had while at ND, Kyle does not have the flash in respect to the returns and ball-hawking ability, but he has become a better tackler than his predecessor. When McCarthy locks in on a ball carrier- that ball carrier goes down. Mr. Dependable is what Kyle really has become for this Irish defense. Maybe as much as anything- that’s what this insanely talented secondary needed. Someone they could depend on if they break too soon, or slip. Kyle McCarthy: your State Farm Insurance Agent. Look for more of the same in 2009.