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Player Reaction: Irish players impressed by new coach’s energy, passion

Bill Brink | Friday, December 11, 2009

One word emanated from the players and resonated throughout the Guglielmino Athletics Complex Friday afternoon.

The word stemmed from new coach Brian Kelly’s meeting with the players that morning and came to light when Kelly started speaking.

The word was energetic.

The players echoed it and Kelly broadcast it, reminiscing about listening to Notre Dame football as a kid in Boston, his voice crescendoing as he answered questions.

“Coach Kelly is a lot more energetic and outgoing,” sophomore defensive lineman Kapron Lewis-Moore said when asked about the comparison between Kelly and former coach Charlie Weis.

Kelly met the team Friday morning to introduce himself and allow the team to get to know him, he said.

“Basically, it was getting to know him and how he does things,” Lewis-Moore said.
Sophomore tight end Kyle Rudolph, who is from Cincinnati, where Kelly coached prior to coming to Notre Dame, said he’s talked to friends of his on the Bearcats and even a manager of the team throughout the process. He’s heard nothing but positive responses and saw it himself Friday morning.

“The way he carried himself, very passionate, he has a love for the game,” Rudolph said.
Rudolph said the Cincinnati basketball team used to be the main attraction in town, but Kelly had turned the football program into a front-runner. He hopes Kelly can do the same for Notre Dame.

“When we were being recruited it was back-to-back BCS bowls,” Rudolph said. “That’s where we want to get back to.”

Sophomore receiver Michael Floyd said Kelly conveyed his expectations to the team and they weren’t much different from his behavior.

“Just him coming in, just wanting to talk about what he wanted in the team, us being a high-energize team and being passionate about the game,” he said.

The attitude, Floyd said, can carry over to the team.

“New coach coming in here, different mentality, guys will be more upbeat, more excited,”he said.

That high-energy style also carries over to the field. Sophomore quarterback Dayne Crist said although he hadn’t watched tape of Cincinnati, he saw enough of the Bearcats to get excited about the fast, quick-strike offense.

“It’ll be a little bit of a change but I think we have the guys on the team to do it,” he said. “Everyone’s more excited than anything about getting to work and making a great impression.”

Kelly’s ability to motivate players, Crist said, will benefit the Irish.

“I feel that everyone fed off of his energy in the team meeting,” he said. His passion was very contagious, his competitiveness tow in was very contagious. I think it will have some great effects on the team and we’re just excited about the whole situation.”

Sophomore defensive lineman Ethan Johnson said Kelly’s energy shone through, but that wasn’t what really caught his ear.

“It’s really something else to hear a coach that’s been winning all these games to say it’s been his dream to coach Notre Dame,” Johnson said. “I guess I’ll be a part of that realization of his dream.”

Johnson said he knew, however, that Kelly’s energy was only part of the equation.

“First impressions are just first impressions.” He said. “I’m sure I’ll get to know him better when I get back.”