Thursday, August 11, 2005

Switching sides | by Jay

SBT has a note on Nate Schiccatano moving over to DE.

"I've never even played here in peewee," said the senior running back-turned-fullback- turned- linebacker of his move to defensive end. "It's something new. I kind of like it. Hopefully, I'm here to stay."

If perseverance counts for anything, the 6-foot-2, 242-pound Coal Township, Pa., product will find a way to make it work. A highly recruited linebacker and tight end prospect coming out of high school. Schiccatano, who was lured to ND in part by the invitation to play tailback, has resisted the urge to transfer through all the position changes and all the non-playing time.

"We're trying to find him a home," ND first-year head coach Charlie Weis said. "He came into training camp in really great shape. What we don't want is to get anyone buried to a point where they can't get into the mix. Whether they can get on the field or not isn't the point. We want to put them in a position where they have the best chance to get on the field."

That's why junior Chinedum Ndukwe, who split time at Apache linebacker and strong safety in the spring, has settled in at safety and sophomore Anthony Vernaglia has moved from safety to the Apache 'backer position.

Senior defensive end Travis Leitko's exodus opened the door for Schiccatano on the defensive line -- even if he is undersized at the moment.

"(Defensive coordinator) Rick Minter first said something to me about it at the end of spring ball," Schiccatano said. "I hope to put on 10 to 15 more pounds. I want to play against the run too, but right now they're using me as a pass-rush specialist.

"It's a lot different from linebacker, where you're five yards back and you kind of react to everything and can see things happening. At defensive end, everything is kind of up in your face. I'm going to have to learn to react a lot quicker."
Reminiscent of another RB-to-DE switch that worked out pretty well, no? We could use the depth with the loss of Leitko -- I hope it works out.