Chicago Colleges: Chris Badger

Ties run beyond independence for BYU, ND

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
11:00
AM CT
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- This edition of the BYU-Notre Dame series was born on the day the Cougars declared their independence, which will turn two years old when these teams square off Saturday.

The ties run a bit deeper than the pair's lack of conference membership in football, though. The private, religious affiliations of each adds another layer for an Irish squad that boasts a small handful of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"All of them have felt very comfortable in the community," coach Brian Kelly said. "I don't know what the dynamic is, but it just seems that there's a reaching out that has taken place in their time here, and it's made it, I think, a great transition for those kids."

Manti Te'o, Kona Schwenke and Chris Badger all are LDS members, with Badger returning to Notre Dame this year following his two-year Mormon mission.

Much has been made of Te'o's path to Notre Dame over BYU and childhood favorite USC, a decision he says he had prayed on. His cousin, Jray Galea'i, is a student assistant with the Cougars after chronic injuries forced him to quit his role as a defensive back.

"We wanted Manti," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We thought he was an excellent player. It was a heavy recruiting race. He had an official visit, saw everything that we had to offer, and really didn’t want BYU. Certainly our evaluation as a player was right; he’s very good."

Notre Dame, in some ways, has provided a template for football independence for BYU, which, in some ways, fashions itself as the Notre Dame of the West. The Irish and the Cougars announced their series upon the latter's defection from the Mountain West Conference, with Notre Dame scheduled to host BYU again next season before they each host a pair of games between 2014-20, with the dates to be determined.

His team continuing its pursuit of perfection, Te'o's one and only shot against BYU won't add to the intrigue Saturday -- despite the irony behind his analogy.

"It's just game seven," Te'o said. "I think I said this before: When you start to do things differently than you've done in the past, then bad things start to happen."

News and notes as camp approaches

August, 3, 2012
8/03/12
5:00
PM CT
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It looks like Austin Collinsworth may be the only player who will not be taking the LaBar Practice Complex fields Saturday when Notre Dame opens fall camp.

Coach Brian Kelly said Friday that the junior safety, who underwent surgery this spring to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, would likely be out until late October or early November, given the roughly six-month recovery timetable he was given. Collinsworth has played each of his first two years with the Irish and still has a redshirt year remaining.
  • Kelly said that redshirt sophomore wide receiver Luke Massa (knee) is limited but cleared to do a lot of work. Converted sophomore tight end Troy Niklas (head) is 100 percent after missing the end of the spring.
  • The right side of the offensive line will be tinkered with throughout the spring, as Mike Golic Jr. and Nick Martin battle for the starting guard spot while Christian Lombard appears to be the No. 1 tackle. Needing three or four players on the right side to be interchangeable, Kelly said that Martin could see some time at tackle with Tate Nichols as well.
  • The defense will use five inside linebackers with Carlo Calabrese suspended for the opener against Navy, rotating in Kendall Moore, Joe Schmidt and Jarrett Grace.
  • Kelly is "very pleased" with the off-field progress of Everett Golson, who admitted to struggling academically when first arriving on campus in the spring of 2011.
  • Kyle Brindza sounds like the man to beat for kickoffs, while Nick Tausch seems to have a leg up on field goals and extra points: "I think going through the spring Nick Tausch showed himself to be a pretty consistent kicker for us, PAT, field goal," Kelly said. "I think we're still working with him and Brindza. Kyle has shown a strength, as you know with the ball moving up to the 35yard line now. We feel that both are capable. But Kyle's a little bit stronger and may be able to kick that thing out of the back of the end zone every time. So we'll continue to work on that. But moving forward, I think Nick had a very good spring for us. We feel confident in his ability. Kyle is right there at the waiting. I think we've got two really good kickers at that position."
  • Freshman receiver Davonte' Neal will wear jersey No. 19. Freshman running back recruit KeiVarae Russell has been converted to cornerback, giving the Irish six scholarship corners. Russell will wear jersey No. 6. The rest of the freshmen jersey numbers remain unchanged from this list.
  • Redshirt freshman receiver DaVaris Daniels switched from jersey No. 16 to No. 10. Class of 2010 recruit and current Notre Dame freshman safety Chris Badger, back from his two-year Mormon mission, will wear No. 16.
  • Kelly said that Notre Dame would have only recruited Penn State players -- who, in light of NCAA sanctions, are eligible to transfer without restriction and can play for a new school in 2012 -- had they de-committed and publicly expressed their desire to transfer.

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