Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 16, 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 29 of 111

BY LOU SOMOGYI O n the football field, sopho- more nose guard Daniel Cage is known as one with an ap- petite for destruction. It has come to the forefront this fall because of his ability to curb a different kind of appetite. Similar to 2010-13 Irish nose guard Louis Nix III, Cage arrived at Notre Dame as a 2014 freshman with plenty of hunger, and sometimes the wrong kind. At the conclusion of his first day of practice at the Culver Academies, a fatigued Cage regurgitated his most recent meal during the team meeting on the field. "I had a lot to eat that morning," Cage recalled with a sheepish grin. "I was overwhelmed with food." Nix was 367 pounds as a freshman and admitted he could barely get through the stretching drills while redshirting. Successor Cage was in the "345 to 350" range last year, but at 6-1 he also was a couple of inches shorter than Nix, so his girth was just as pro- nounced. Cage's lack of height had prevented former Notre Dame defensive coordi- nator and current UConn head coach Bob Diaco from recruiting him. Diaco was in good company, because Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer also took a pass on the in-state product from Cincinnati. Cage then committed verbally to Michigan State, which had a wonder- ful recent track record of taking "left- overs" from the bigger name schools and forging top-10 defenses with them. The two reasons Cage ended up with the Irish were need and a change at defensive coordinator. Notre Dame signed only two defen- sive linemen in 2012 (Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones) and two in 2013 (Isaac Rochell and Jacob Matuska, who was viewed by most schools more as a tight end or offensive tackle). It also needed a successor to Nix, plus Ste- phon Tuitt turned pro a year early. After missing out on its top pros- pects, five-star players Matt Elam (Kentucky) and Thomas Holley (Flor- ida), the Irish staff went hat in hand to Cage to fill a void in the middle. Plus, new coordinator Brian VanGorder was willing to cast a wider recruiting net. "When they came back it was more or less a shock," said Cage, one of the final official visitors in late January be- fore inking with the Irish on National Signing Day. "My parents had a big Staying Hungry Sophomore Daniel Cage is emerging as a force along the defensive line

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