Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

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

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26 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Wright (30) and running back C.J. Holmes (nine), who was dismissed from the team this winter. Perhaps the top surprise was Hin- ish, a consensus three-star recruit whose advanced work with his hands complemented his heart to leapfrog some upperclassmen to be- come the top backup to Jerry Tillery. Meanwhile, Hawai'i native Tago- vailoa-Amosa, who seemed destined to enroll at USC, averaged 25 snaps per game in the 13 contests he played behind senior Jonathan Bonner at de- fensive tackle. BLUE-COLLAR MAN Hinish is used to unglamorous tasks, so the grunt work that comes at nose guard was a natural fit. While working for his father Kurt Sr.'s construction company in the summers, he did everything from pour concrete to shovel what was estimated in one day as seven tons of stone that he then had to haul in a wheelbarrow. This year, with Tillery moved to three-technique to better utilize his playmaking skills, Hinish and fifth- year senior Bonner will have the tag- team partnership at nose. Both Bonner and Hinish also have special motiva- tion in their lives with parents who have battled or are still fighting cancer. Bonner's mother, Consuelo Hamp- ton, has been waging a war against endometrial cancer since last fall, which is what prompted Bonner ini- tially to opt to not return for a fifth season in 2018 after earning his IT management degree in December. For Hinish, his father was diag- nosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in 2013 and a softball-sized tumor re- quired 17 hours of surgery and a not- so-promising prognosis. "He was supposed to be in a coma for a couple of weeks, and he woke up five minutes after the surgery," Hinish marveled. Soon thereafter, Kurt Sr. watched his son debut for top power Pitts- burgh Central Catholic — after going to work, of course, despite chemo- therapy beforehand. He didn't miss a game, or even a scrimmage, thereafter, including all of Notre Dame's home games last year. "He used to get chemotherapy on Thursday afternoons, and on Thurs- day night he would drive up," Hin- ish said. "He just wouldn't give up. … One of the toughest guys I've ever met in this entire world, and I've met some tough guys. … "[He's] someone that I really look up to and it motivates me every sin- gle day." This winter Kurt Sr. received a clean bill of health from his treat- ments, while Kurt Jr. continued his development and refinement as a player. "Last year, I was a bull in a china shop," Hinish summarized. "This year, I will be a bull in a china shop with technique." His technique actually was ad- vanced for a college freshman. That and his blue-collar tenacity are what earned him playing time when it ap- peared he was destined for a redshirt season his first year. The Pittsburgh native said not only did he receive ex- ceptional coaching at Central Catholic, but on occasion he even had camp tu- torials from former Pitt 2013 All-Amer- ican defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a Penn Hills product and first-round NFL Draft pick who already has been selected to four Pro Bowls while with the Los Angeles Rams. Listed anywhere from 6-0 to 6-1 to 280-284 pounds, Donald serves as the model to emulate for the 6-1¾, 292-pound Hinish. "I love watching Aaron Donald be- cause he's so slippery and he's about the same height as me … we're kind of undersized interior defensive line- men," Hinish said. Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly said he's never met a defen- sive lineman who can excel solely on strength, and it was the "hand work" of Hinish and Tagovailoa-Amosa that helped them get on the field so early. "They just have to have that abil- ity to shed and get off blocks," Kelly said. "That's just something they had when they got here." While Hinish's heart is evident on the football field, it is equally discern- ible off it, including taking defensive line coach Mike Elston's three young daughters to a daddy-daughter dance at a local grade school when Elston was unavailable. Also, a perk that Notre Dame play- ers received for the appearance in the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl was a $500 gift card to Best Buy. Hinish wanted to use it to buy his parents and two siblings a new dishwasher to replace the old one that had broken but was not replaced because of a tight family budget. However, when he called his fa- ther for the measurements, Kurt Sr., suspected what was going on and wouldn't give them. "I ended up buying him a drone instead — he has a lot of fun with that," said Hinish, who added that a dishwasher eventually was pur- chased by the family. There will be other clean-up work for Hinish to do on the field. WARM-UP ACT One of the coldest Aprils on record in the Midwest hit home for Ewa Beach, Hawai'i, native Tagovailoa- Amosa. "I was definitely pretty upset," he said after the Blue-Gold Game April 21. "I was like, 'Come on now, it's the middle of April and it's still Freshman D-Line Duos Since the start of freshman eligibility in 1972, it has not been unusual for one freshman defensive lineman to play at Notre Dame, beginning with luminaries such as Steve Niehaus (1972) and Ross Browner (1973). Under head coach Brian Kelly, it has been a yearly event with the late Kona Schwenke (2010), Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch (2011), Sheldon Day (2012), Isaac Rochell (2013), Andrew Trumbetti and Daniel Cage (2014), Jerry Tillery (2015) and Daelin Hayes (2016). However, since the beginning of the Lou Holtz era in 1986, it has been rare for two rookie defensive linemen to be on the two-deep from the start of the season through the end the way Myron Tagovailoa- Amosa and Kurt Hinish were in 2017. Prior to Cage/Trumbetti in 2014 and the dynamic Tuitt/Lynch combination in 2011, the previous time it occurred was way back in 1989 with tackle Troy Ridgley (24 tackles and three fumble recoveries) and end Eric Jones (seven tackles and three passes broken up). Future pro Junior Bryant also saw some action that year as a freshman, though not on the two-deep. — Lou Somogyi "They just have to have that ability to shed and get off blocks. That's just something they had when they got here." HEAD COACH BRIAN KELLY ON HINISH AND TAGOVAILOA-AMOSA

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