Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2017

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

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Page 12 of 55 FEBRUARY 2017 13 UNDER THE DOME TWO IRISH LINEMEN RECEIVE NFL COMBINE INVITATIONS At least two former Notre Dame players will represent the Irish at the NFL Combine, which will take place in Indianapolis from Feb. 28 through March 6. Nose guard Jarron Jones and defensive end Isaac Rochell have both indicated that they received invitations to the annual NFL workout. Jones was at times Notre Dame's best de- fensive player in 2016. The 6-5½, 315-pounder had 45 tackles, a team-high 11 tackles for loss and two sacks as a fifth-year senior. He had a dominant game in the win against Miami, recording seven tackles, including six for a loss and one sack. The 6-4, 290-pound Rochell compiled 55 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one sack as a senior team captain. The McDonough, Ga., native also was invited to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl, an all-star event that kicks off Jan. 28 in Mobile, Ala. The game, and the preceding week of practices, will be coached by the staffs of the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears. Several other Notre Dame players could be invited to the combine, including quarterback DeShone Kizer, cornerback Cole Luke and line- backer James Onwualu. Ten former Notre Dame players received invitations to the 2016 combine, which ranked second in the nation behind Ohio State, which landed a remarkable 14. In 2015, three former Irish players partici- pated in the combine while nine traveled to Indianapolis in 2014. Following Kelly's first three seasons, Notre Dame landed invites for three, six and eight players, respectively. The 2017 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. — Matt Jones Lou Holtz Reaches 80th Birthday On Jan. 6, Lou Holtz became the fourth Notre Dame football coach in its history to reach at least 80 years of age. The others are Ara Parseghian (1964-74), who will be 94 on May 21, while Gerry Faust (1981-85) turns 82 that same day. Terry Brennan (1954-58), who was only 25 when hired, will celebrate his 89th birthday on June 11. That's quite a run for Holtz, who many years ago brought cemetery plots for he and wife Beth at Notre Dame, and said it was apropos because "the alumni used to bury me here every Saturday." Interestingly, one of his first jobs as an assistant was at William & Mary in 1963, but it was only a nine-month job. To help make ends meet, he took a job selling cemetery plots the other three months. "My wife told me, 'Cemetery plots? You won't sell anything,'" Holtz said. "That motivated me. I wanted to prove her wrong, so that summer I sold more than anybody else. I sold my car, my stereo …" From 1986-96, Holtz immortalized himself into Notre Dame lore with a consensus national title in 1988, a school-record 23-game winning streak, two near misses from another title in 1989 and 1993, a 5-1 record in major bowls from 1988-93 (at which time Notre Dame was also 17-4-1 versus top-10 teams), and a 9-1-1 ledger against rival USC. Through it all, Holtz, who finished his career 100-30-2 at Notre Dame maintained this perspective about expectations and the job: • On Notre Dame's preseason rankings: "If they think we're going to be good, they'll put us in the top three. If they think we're going to be decent, they'll put us in the top six. If they think we have a chance to be good, we'll be in the top 10. "If they think we're not going to be that good, they'll put us in the top 15. And if they think we're going to be horrendous, they'll put us somewhere between 15 and 20." • On pressure after winning 23 straight games: "I was thinking about how Frank Leahy was here for 11 years and Ara Parseghian was here for 11 years. But Frank Leahy was here for three years (1941-43) and then went to war (1944-45). I think sometimes that would be a welcome relief. "I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you this is not the type of job you can keep for 11 years. … Sometimes you win too early. I think the best thing you can do is go 5-6, 6-5, 7-4, 8-3, 9-2, 10-1, 11-0, 10-1 and 12-0. If you can do it that way, you can last 11 years. The other way is a little bit more difficult." • On raising the bar: "When I first started, everybody said they just wanted us to be competitive. That first season in 1986 we went 5-6 and lost five games by a total of 14 points. But people said, 'No, when we said competitive, we meant we want you to win.' "So the next year we were 8-4 and played in a New Year's Day bowl. But they said, 'No, when we said we want you to win, we meant win them all.' "So the next year we did win them all. We went 12-0 and won the national championship. But they said, 'No, you don't understand, we meant we want you to win big.'" • On preseason hype: "Here at Notre Dame, everybody has a tendency to get too excited too early. Most of the time, when people celebrate too early, it's because they don't think they'll celebrate later." — Lou Somogyi Holtz, the fourth Irish football coach to reach at least 80 years of age, posted a 100-30-2 record at Notre Dame from 1986-96. PHOTO BY PHIL ELLSWORTH/COURTESY ESPN IMAGES Defensive end Isaac Rochell was invited to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl, an all-star event that kicks off Jan. 28 in Mobile, Ala., and will also participate in the NFL Combine Feb. 28 to March 6 in Indianapolis. PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL

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