Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

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10 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Lee Kiefer became the third collegiate fencer to capture four individual national titles after win- ning the foil crown at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis in late March. She joined New York University's Michael Lofton, who won four sabre titles from 1984-87, and Penn State's Olga Kalinovskaya, who captured four consecutive foil titles from 1993-96, in achieving the feat. Kiefer also helped the Fighting Irish capture their first team championship since 2011. Her career accomplishments include appear- ances at the 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio de Janeiro) Olympic Games, and becoming the first athlete to win seven consecutive individual titles at the Pan American Championships. BGI: What did winning your fourth NCAA title mean to you? Kiefer: "It's more of a relief than anything else. I knew that I was one of the favorites to win and I knew I had that experience, but performing un- der that pressure it's a lot harder. I'm just relieved and very satisfied." BGI: How does this one compare to the other three titles? Kiefer: "This one is definitely more meaning- ful. It wouldn't be as meaningful if I didn't have all the others, but it's historic. I'm really happy I could give those wins to Notre Dame and the fencing program. "The team win is definitely more important to us than our individual results. Coming into this year, we wanted to win that together. It's been six or seven years since it has happened, so it was a real focus because we've been so close the past few years. We all set our minds toward the same goal." BGI: What goes through your mind when you think about your name being in the record books forever? Kiefer: "It's a great feeling. I feel like I came and did my job well. I made a lot of people proud, and it's been great to be a member of the Notre Dame fencing program. "I've always set my sights on winning. I'm a very strong and intense competitor. Someone like me doesn't leave satisfied unless you have the vic- tory. I have very high goals always." BGI: When you look back on everything you've accomplished at Notre Dame what will you re- member most? Kiefer: "Definitely the team win. We all won this together. None of this could have been pos- sible if we didn't put in the hours practicing and making the little sacrifices. It's a beautiful thing. "Everyone was so happy and jumping up down and hugging each other. I was crying because it's been a struggle. Everyone feels really proud and happy. It's a once-in-a-lifetime feeling." BGI: What's your next goal now that the col- legiate side of fencing is over? Kiefer: "For once I'm going to say I get a little break. I've been going hard for about 15 years now. I have a few months to relax. I'll be going to medical school next fall, and I'll probably keep fencing. I'll have to push it back a little bit to be able to balance both. "After this amazing result and my ranking, I think I should push for Tokyo in 2020. I want to, but I know there are a lot of obstacles to come. I need to get a clear picture of what I want to do." — Corey Bodden Five Questions With … SENIOR FENCER LEE KIEFER Five-Star Daelin Hayes Must Bolster Pass Pressure By Lou Somogyi First, let's define "emergence." It's not the seven returning starters among 11 on defense, led by three captains: rover Drue Tranquill, and linebackers Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini. Continuing to improve is their mandate. A crucial figure that has not yet emerged is sophomore drop end Daelin Hayes, who has completed his second spring at Notre Dame after enrolling early last year. In the past four recruiting cycles, the Irish have signed only two five-stars: senior guard Quenton Nelson — a third-team Associated Press All-American as a junior and maybe the No. 1 prospect at his position in the 2018 NFL Draft — and the sculpted, explosive 6-3¾, 255-pound Hayes. Ravaged by shoulder injuries and other setbacks in high school, Hayes had a goal as a freshman of showing he could stay healthy. He accomplished that while finishing with 155 snaps (13 per game), 11 tackles, a pass deflection (resulting in an interception) and a forced fumble. Now, the Irish defense needs much more. Since the 2004 recruiting cycle, Notre Dame has signed six Rivals five-star players on defense. Two of them won the Butkus Award (Manti Te'o and Jaylon Smith) and a third earned first-team All-America honors as a sophomore on a 12-1 team (lineman Stephon Tuitt, who recorded 12 sacks) before turning pro as a junior, like Smith. Two others did not pan out (end Ishaq Williams and safety Max Redfield). On a defense in need of game-changing talent, the Irish need that sixth five-star, Hayes, to fulfill his potential on the edge to provide a needed edge. Nick Coleman Is A Crucial Safety Valve By Bryan Driskell There isn't a player on the back end of the defense that has the talent that Dae- lin Hayes possesses, but in first-year coordinator Mike Elko's defense Hayes could have a great year and the Irish would still have issues if the safety play isn't good. Last season, Wake Forest finished 23rd in scoring defense despite getting just seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries from the team's top two drop ends. Notre Dame can have a playoff-caliber defense without great production from the drop end. It cannot have that kind of defense without good safety play. Wake Forest's starting strong safety in 2016 — then-redshirt freshman Jessie Bates — racked up 100 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions and four passes broken up. The Demon Deacons played three different players at free safety, and that trio accounted for 117 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions and four passes broken up. A number of different safeties could be listed here, but junior Nick Coleman is one player whose emergence could have a major impact. Heading into the offseason, Coleman is penciled in as the starting strong safety. That position is asked to do a lot in Elko's defense, and if Coleman — or whoever starts there — is not consistently productive the Irish will struggle to keep the opposition's points down. Sophomore Jalen Elliott heads into the offseason as the starting free safety, and an argument could be made his emergence is every bit as important as Coleman's. Point ✦ Counterpoint: WHOSE EMERGENCE IS MOST IMPORTANT TO NOTRE DAME'S 2017 DEFENSE? DAELIN HAYES NICK COLEMAN Kiefer made history as a four-time NCAA national champion in foil, becoming only the third individual — man or woman — to achieve the distinction. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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