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Carlisle faces his father’s team in Indianapolis

| Thursday, September 11, 2014

Like many of his teammates, Notre Dame senior receiver Amir Carlisle will have family at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday to watch the Irish take on Purdue.

But unlike those teammates’ parents, Carlisle’s father won’t be sporting a shirt with the Notre Dame monogram or a shamrock.

20140906, 2014-2015, 20140906, by Zach Llorens, Football, michigan, Notre Dame Stadium, Win 31-0Zach Llorens | The Observer
That’s because Duane Carlisle is the director of sports performance for the Boilermakers’ athletic department and also works more specifically as the strength and conditioning coach for the football team.

“It’s cool to compete against my father, but at the end of the day, it’s just another game, and I have to approach it in a professional manner and really prepare,” Amir said.

He will have to prepare against Purdue players who were trained by his own kin and who will try to stop Amir from having a second-straight multi-touchdown game.

Since making the transition from running back to receiver over the offseason, Amir has excelled in his first two games, hauling in 54 receiving yards against Rice and 61 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan.

That’s not too bad for a player who said he had previously picked up “maybe two catches,” as he seldom played the position in high school.

After high school graduation, Amir headed south from his northern California home to compete for USC. At the same time, Duane was the head strength and conditioning coach for the San Francisco 49ers.

But after Amir’s freshman year in 2011, Duane packed his bags and headed to his new position at Purdue, and Amir soon followed him to the Hoosier State.

However, the younger Carlisle decided not to stay with him all the way to West Lafayette.

“That was a thought at one point,” Amir said of transferring to Purdue. “But Notre Dame — [I] couldn’t pass up on the tradition and academic excellence.”

Besides taking on his father’s program, Amir said competing at Lucas Oil Stadium is another exciting perk of this weekend’s matchup since joining the Irish, and one he doesn’t take for granted.

“Going to Notre Dame presents those type of opportunities to play in an NFL stadium, and each and every time we can play in an NFL stadium is really cool because one day, hopefully, it’s a goal of mine to pursue the NFL,” he said. “That’s always a cool opportunity to get a glimpse into how the NFL operates.”

Even though Purdue heads into the game with a 1-1 record after falling to Central Michigan last week, Amir said Saturday’s game has big implications for Notre Dame and is to be taken seriously.

“This is a huge game for us,” he said. “We take one game at a time, and Purdue’s an in-state rivalry.

“Each and every year we play them, it’s always a dog fight, so we really have to buckle down and really focus on our preparation this week because starting the season 3-0 gives us a lot of momentum. This is definitely a big game for us.”

As Amir and the Irish prepare for Purdue like any other opponent, life continues on like normal for the Carlisles before and after the game, and they still communicate regularly.

“He’s my father, so we always talk the same [as normal],” Amir said. “Our father-son connection comes before any football activity.”

And when Saturday’s game starts and Amir takes the field for Notre Dame, he said he will be most grateful for a man standing on the opposite sideline, wearing not blue and gold but black and gold.

“My dad’s the one who introduced me to football when I was a young kid, and throughout my years of high school, he’s the one who introduced me to a whole bunch of NFL players and coaches to better me as a player, so I owe everything to him and God,” Amir said. “I just appreciate him and everything he’s done for me.”

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