Five-Star All-Day Tough
|Sometime in 1993||Bryant Young||*****|
|Nov 29, 2005||Maurice Stovall||*****|
|Sep 10, 2006||Travis Thomas||*****|
|Oct 2, 2006||Darius Walker||*****|
I was trying to think back to the most pronounced example of “Fivestar-All-Day-Tough”, and I remembered an exemplifying moment that both Hammer and myself witnessed years ago at N.D. I recalled a day in the hot, nasty summer of 1993. The team had just finished its second, grueling practice of the day under control of the very-pissed-off Lou Holtz. Lou was furious that day because the first team defense had been run over by both the first and second offensive squads. This meant many more reps for the defensive starters – no water and no rest. After about 3 hours of this punishment, in 95 degree heat and about 90 percent humidity, Holtz called practice for the day and blasted the starting defense. Most of the team hung their heads, took off their pads and headed to the locker room. At that moment the undisputed leader of the Irish Defense, Bryant Young, defined Fivestar-All-Day-Toughness. He had injured his ankle during practice (one that Mike would continue to wrap the entire season). Despite this injury and his near-complete exhaustion, B.Y. striped off his shoulder pads and headed to the weightlifting tent set up next to the practice field. He then proceeded to hit the weights with abandon. All of the other members of the defense saw his actions and joined him. I think Hammer and I threw in a few sets as well.
We all remember what happened in the ’93 season, and I believe B.Y. set the to tone with his toughness. While being huge helps (B.Y. could be the most massive human I have ever seen in person), toughness, in most cases, comes from the heart. Mark Monahan, Tom Krug, Jeff Kilburg, Matt Shelton and others come to mind here – none really had the talent level of guys they competed with, yet all had determination, played in pain and had hearts that made them competitors. Truly Fivestar-All-Day-Tough.
In my personal opinion, what we are seeing this year is the emergence of a new attitude at Notre Dame that is encouraging players to look inside of themselves and recognize their full toughness potential. Stovall, is a great example and a solid first pick for the All-Day-Tough award. While his physical talent is unquestionable, this guy as lacked the mentoring the fast few years to allow him to unleash his inner toughness. While I would like to think that if Hammer and I were on the sidelines this never would have happened, the leadership of Charlie Weis vs. the “other” coach (be it Willingham, Davie or others) has really been the difference. Those of us that have followed Notre Dame football for years have noticed this difference in attitude and it is truly refreshing. Guys play hurt. Guys don’t point fingers at other players, but take responsibility for their mistakes. This team shows poise, character and determination for four straight quarters, whether we’re playing ‘Cuse or USC. I’m f*cking glad this attitude is back.
Weis calls it Nasty, I call it Fivestar-All-Day-Tough. Whatever you want to call it, it’s an attitude that Weis is instilling in these players. And I, for one, am glad it’s back.