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Notre Dame

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Ex-Saint to push for playing time with Irish

Springmann

Tony Springmann didn’t arrive at Notre Dame with the same fanfare of his fellow freshmen defensive linemen.

But the former Bishop Dwenger standout quickly impressed the Irish coaching staff.

“Tony Springmann is a very smart kid and an aggressive kid,” defensive line coach Mike Elston said at Tuesday’s media day. “He has learned as well as any of those freshmen.”

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Springmann was one of six defensive linemen to join the Irish from the Class of 2011. The group was headlined by the 6-6, 265-pound Aaron Lynch, who enrolled in the spring, and the 6-6, 295-pound Stephon Tuitt.

Though those two linemen came in as the 10th (Lynch) and 44th (Tuitt) best prospects in the nation, according to Scout.com, Springmann made sure he wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Springmann started preparing to play for Notre Dame in December. He said he worked out in intensive two-hour sessions four to five times a week before enrolling this summer.

“Stephon Tuitt, just by virtue of his status in recruiting, had a lot of attention,” coach Brian Kelly said. “But a guy like Tony Springmann really impressed.”

While he was ready physically, Springmann has relied on upperclassmen teammates to help him adjust to college football.

“You definitely have to learn,” Springmann said in a phone interview Friday. “I look up to the older guys, who have taken me under their wings. They help a lot. They help lead with examples of how to do things.

“There is a lot tossed at you right away. You just got to be a sponge, just absorb everything that you are told. Physically, guys are huge, big fast and strong. They are intense.”

Springmann was able to soak up enough to put pressure on senior nose guard Hafis Williams to become a threat to crack the rotation as the third man behind senior Sean Cwynar and sophomore Louis Nix.

Kelly said Williams has been able to hold Springmann off, but the former Saint is making sure Williams keeps working.

“Hafis, he needed to come to work every day to, and Tony’s been that guy to get him to work every day,” Kelly told reporters Friday. “He’s holding that battle off, but that’s going to continue throughout the year.”

Springmann played defensive end and offensive tackle for Dwenger. He said he has enjoyed moving to the inside of the defensive line at Notre Dame.

“The coaches see me progressing and learning and becoming a nose guard,” Springmann said. “The more I play it the better I like it and the more I’m adjusting to it. I just got to get all around better, bigger, faster, stronger. And get better technique and better explosion.

“I’m going to do whatever the coaches want me do to for the betterment of our team. Where ever they put me, I’m going to perform to the best of my ability.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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