Mar 9, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT
(Note: This is the third in a series of fictional memos from Notre Dame’s No. 1 fan to key players for the 2012 Fighting Irish. The first featured senior wide receiver John Goodman, the second WR Daniel Smith.)
To: Zeke Motta
From: Goldy Domer, #1 Irish Fan
Subject: Your NFL audition season
I feel like the timing couldn’t be better for this letter. With Spring Break coming, you’ll likely head back home to Florida, enjoy some time in the Vero Beach sun, and get to thinking about the days ahead. You’ll probably even dip your toes in the Atlantic. Not to get too poetic, but it’s a little like your time in that wide open pool called the Irish secondary, where you’ve seen your fair share of time. But here’s the thing Zeke, I think you’re ready to dive in head first. Not just the ocean — the water temp is a balmy 73 degrees — but into the secondary. It’s your time now, Zeke. Some people might worry you’re not quite ready, but I think you’re going to be just fine.
Sometimes us fans forget these things, but you were the man coming out of high school. Turning down Clemson, Florida State and some guy named Urban Meyer to head to South Bend? We ought to have a party just to celebrate that occasion. (Looks like you did.) And while some Irish fans think of you as a forgotten man, I haven’t missed you in action. All us Irish fans remember is the last loss, but when we had safeties dropping like flies in 2010, I saw you flying around out there. Even if it was a learning experience, finishing seventh on the team in tackles is nothing to scoff at, and you were basically the starting safety all season. (Remember that Kirk Cousins INT in the end zone? I hope the NFL scouts do before they take him in the second round…)
While we all focused on Harrison going from the doghouse to the penthouse, some people forgot you’ve had some great moments. Thanks to the internet, we can all watch them, too. (Looks like you’ve got another No.1 Fan, Zeke.) Nobody wants to remember that Champs Sports Bowl, but I remember that scoop and score. And I’ve got a feeling that come spring time and next fall, we’re going to be reading a bunch of articles reminding us how we’ve got another 6-foot-2, 215-pound safety that likes to play the role of a Zeke-seeking missile. (Not bad, right?)
Maybe it just feels like you were the odd-man out last year, but it’s not like this is going to be your first rodeo. You took over 69 percent of the snaps last year on defense — that’s more than Prince Shembo, or Dan Fox, or Big Lou, or Aaron Lynch. Maybe the guys at the BBQ that like to sound like ND football experts or those geniuses on the message boards will think of you as a back-up, but somehow you and Jamoris both spent a whole lot of time out there, with his 573 snaps just 10 more than you played.
Imagine what you two will be able to do together out there. If you don’t see me peeking my head through the gates at spring practice, it’s because I’ll be busy thinking up nicknames for one of the hardest hitting safety duos in recent Irish memory. Motta & Slaughter. Just sounds like a house of pain for opposing wide receivers.
Your second biggest fan,