Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Catching up with Chinedum | by Pat

A great article today in the South Bend Tribune on safety Chinedum Ndukwe, his family, and his path to Notre Dame. I'm going to excerpt a few passages for discussion and posterity's sake, but I highly encourage you to follow the link and read the entire article. It's excellent. As an aside, the writer of the article, Eric Hansen, has been putting out consistently great articles as the beat reporter covering the football program. In my opinion, ND fans and the Tribinue are lucky to have him. Kudos to Eric.

The main item of interest for the coming months is that Coach Weis has put Ndukwe on the Maurice Stovall diet.

"Coach Weis told me, 'Listen, if you're not down to 210 by summer camp, I'm not even going to let you on the field,'" said Chinedum, who played at 230 pounds in 2005. "I was 210 before I headed back to (summer) school, and I'll make sure I'm 205 when we kick off against Georgia Tech (on Sept. 2)."
At 230 pounds, Ndukwe was playing last year at a heavier weight than linebacker Maurice Crum, Jr. That couldn't have helped him when it came to keeping up with opposing receivers. Along with more experience and hopefully improved communication with the rest of the secondary, a lighter and quicker Ndukwe just might really help out the Irish pass defense. He might not make the quantum leap in productivity that Stovall made, but every little bit helps.

The next item isn't a surprise, but really exposes the lackadaisical approach to recruiting under the Ty regime.
"Coach Willingham and his staff were new," Chinedum said. "And I think there was a different mentality when it came to recruiting. It was almost like Notre Dame recruited itself, that you don't need to go out and get those players like coach (Charlie) Weis does.

"Now for guys who really know where they want to go in life, coach Willingham was going about it the right way. We just felt we weren't getting sought after. The other schools, they'd call you. There were letters. They'd show up at your school. No one from Notre Dame would ever show up at our school. So my dad was like, 'If they're not opening their eyes, go open their eyes up for them.' So I went to camp and tore it apart."
The list of recruits that probably would have ended up at ND with just a little more effort from the coaching staff is both lengthy and depressing. I really don't think anymore needs to be said on that matter.

One more excerpt that is too good to pass up. Here Nduwke's father, Stephen, recounts the exploits of 8th-graders Chinedum and Brady during one of their first visits to ND.
"I'll never forget an incident one time," Stephen said, "when Chinedum and Brady and the other boys came back to the dorm room after the game and they thought I was asleep. It was nice to listen to them marking out their strategy. They were going to go to a party and they were going to tell the girls at the party they were (high school) seniors being recruited. They were going to puff up their shoulders and act big. They had it all planned out."
Personally I would have gone with the more obscure "I'm a fencing recruit" line, but hey, whatever works.