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Fasano brings talent and depth to offense

Heather VanHoegarden | Friday, October 1, 2004

After missing all of spring practice and playing catchup in the fall, Irish tight end Anthony Fasano has arrived.Against Washington last weekend, the junior caught three passes for 41 yards and two touchdowns, his first scores of the young season.”It was a good feeling to contribute and finally help out this offense,” the redshirt junior said.Fasano might be the complete tight end that the Irish have been looking for. To start the season, six tight ends were competing for playing time, and it appeared that Marcus Freeman had won the job. Offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick thinks Fasano was forced to play catchup with the rest of the team after missing all of spring workouts with an injury. However, Fasano’s play of late has catapulted him into the top spot. What makes him so valuable is not just his ability to block, but to catch passes as well.”[Fasano] has been a real strength for us as tight end,” Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham said after Saturday’s game. “He’s doing a good job blocking and we know that he can catch it.”Fasano has seven receptions thus far this season for 101 yards and two touchdowns. This year’s touchdown output is already as many as last year’s.He has made a significant impact on the offense, but Willingham thinks he and the tight ends want even more passes thrown their way.”Our tight ends are probably still claiming they are an afterthought,” Willingham said. “They are looking for a little bit more action, but we’ve been very blessed. We’ve got, at this time, a pretty deep tight end corps.”Fasano leads a group, along with Freeman, that combines experience and youth. Seniors Billy Palmer, Jerome Collins and Jared Clark are also part of that group, as is redshirt freshman John Carlson. “… We have got a pretty good group. Anthony [Fasano] and Marcus Freeman have played as well as the other members of the group. And when we play well, it allows us to involve them more in our system, and in most defenses, that is one area that is difficult to defend, a good tight end.”The fact the Notre Dame has a tight end like Fasano who can do so many different things is key to the offense being successful.”I think it gives you another opportunity to stretch the field a little bit and not just rely on your outside receivers,” Diedrick said. Fasano is on track to be even better than last year, as he caught 18 balls for 169 yards in his first year of action last season. He played in 11 games, starting three for the Irish. But his pass-catching ability isn’t the only thing that has impressed Irish coaches.”I think that he’s been very, very solid,” Diedrick said. “He’s done a tremendous job of being physical and blocking as a tight end, which we ask.”Even with the Washington game being a positive, Fasano feels he has more to contribute to this offense.”I just have to put together all assets of my game, blocking and passing into one game to really help this team,” Fasano said. “I don’t feel like I’ve done that to my full potential.”Diedrick also expects more from Fasano in his second year of action. “I think he’s really stepped up his ability as a receiver,” Diedrick said. “We knew he had the ability to make plays, even from a year ago. I think we’ve worked him in, he had a good game last week, and I think we expect that performance every week.”