Jun 1, 2009

Wu Am I? Childish Gambino & Gratuitous F-REEK

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 11 & 12...

Brandon Walker #14
6'3" 202 lbs.
Findlay, Ohio
Wu Name: Childish Gambino

If you take Jimmy Clausen out of the conversation- Brandon Walker is the most criticized player on the Fighting Irish roster. Since the day that Walker stepped on campus, most observers thought he was the best kicker on the team and would grab the starting position. I wonder if Brandon knew what kind of pressure cooker he was getting himself into when he decommitted from Louisville and signed with Notre Dame? If he didn't- he does now. Walker has had a rough start to his football career at Notre Dame going 20-36 for his field goal attempts for a very poor 55%. On the flipside, he is 61-62 for his PATs.

2009 will be a defining year for Walker as he enters summer camp with competition arriving in the form of freshman Nick Tausch. Either Walker cements himself as the starter or he may slip into obscurity. Notre Dame needs Brandon to be the guy. He has been in the heat, and he will have a better handle on things as a junior as opposed to a freshman still getting his feet wet. I think he will finally come into his own this year as a competent and steady kicker. By all accounts the Fighting Irish shouldn't need him to kick for victories at the end of the game, but they will need him to put points on the board after a stalled drive. That's so important, and often overlooked. Three stalled drives inside the 30 can equal 9 points. That's the difference between a 7-5 season and a 10-2 / 11-1 season.

Darius Fleming #45
Defensive End / Outside Linebacker
6'1" 242 lbs.
Chicago, Illinois
Wu Name: Gratuitous F-REEK

Darius Fleming was one of those guys. Darius was one of the 4 players I wrote about almost 2 years ago in my post, "Four 2 Score." Darius was a must get for the Irish because he was 1) a big time prospect from Chicago, and Notre Dame needed to re-establish itself in the Windy City 2) A freakish athlete that would add size and speed to the front seven & 3) he was an absolute need for roster depth. All these things made Fleming so important, that his early commitment to Notre Dame in the spring of 2007 one of the biggest catches in the #1 overall class in the country. It took a few games for Fleming to really see some strong minutes, and while he only amassed 24 tackles and 2.5 sacks- he was starting to become a very important piece of the puzzle. One of the biggest clues to the level of importance that Fleming was becoming was the statement by Coach Weis before the bowl game. Basically he said that ND would be playing a lot of nickel and that meant Fleming would see a ton of time. When you start to become the integral piece of a particular scheme or defensive alignment- that means you are pretty good.

In 2009 , Fleming is listed as an outside linebacker after playing 2008 with his hand on the ground. What does this mean for Irish fans? I'm not sure. While I always envisioned Fleming as that WILL backer, I also liked seeing the speed on the outside rush from the end position. Notre Dame has really started to find some much needed depth along their front 7, so with the emergence of a few guys, it meant Darius could take his hand off of the ground. That doesn't mean it won't be there from time to time, and by all accounts I think he is supposed to be an end in the nickel in 2009. Whatever it may be, expect a lot out of Fleming this season.

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