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Final season one last chance for Lewis-Moore


Kapron Lewis-Moore has come a long way since picking Notre Dame over five years ago. As a lanky 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end from Weatherford, Texas, Lewis-Moore was a recruit that came down to the wire, with the Irish being the last minute pick over hometown favorite Texas A&M.

Before Irish fans ever knew Deontay Greenberry or Ronald Darby, Lewis-Moore was lifting the Irish coaching staff’s spirits by picking the Irish just days after recommitting to his long-standing pledge to the Aggies.

“I had de-committed earlier this week because [the A&M coaches] wanted me to be 100-percent sure about my decision,” Lewis-Moore told AggieYell.com less than a week before Signing Day 2008. “I wasn’t ready to do that. I don’t really know why.

“But I talked to my coach and my mom for a long time on Tuesday and I decided that I was definitely ready to end the process. A&M is where my heart is and I am 100-percent solid to the Aggies.”

It turned out he wasn’t, and Lewis-Moore’s eleventh hour switch, done in concert with recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello and head coach Charlie Weis, helped Notre Dame secure a much-needed bookend to Ethan Johnson.

Fast forward five years and a lot has changed in South Bend. Lewis-Moore included. That stick thin defensive end is now a 306-pound block of granite, and one of the last remaining members of the much-anticipated recruiting class of 2008.

Moore went through multiple position coaches, defensive coordinators and head coaches during his rocky period in South Bend, and now, entering his third season under head coach Brian Kelly, he finally has some continuity. After a senior season that was plagued by injuries and disappointment, that isn’t lost on the veteran as he enters another training camp.

“It’s the fifth one. I’m really excited about it,” Lewis-Moore told a group of reporters after practice this week. “I’m actually just looking forward to having some fun out there.  A lot of guys dread camp, but being injured you take not playing for granted and missing time really hurt me a lot. I’m just going out there having fun.”

That fun is an important part of the 2012 season, and part of rebuilding trust and commitment after a 2011 season saw the Irish fall flat with a disappointing 8-5 season. Kelly talked about what he’s done to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. And Lewis-Moore mentioned the rededication of the team this summer, understanding the difficult schedule that sits in front of this team.

“I think this has been one of the best summers we’ve had in a while,” Lewis-Moore said. “I’m not saying that everyone wasn’t buying into the program, but everyone can see the results that can happen and see that Coach Longo knows what he’s talking about. Having everyone give that extra effort, it goes a long way. I think that’s translated over to the field.”

That translation hopefully shows strongly on the defensive line. Even with the loss of Freshman All-American Aaron Lynch, the defensive line expects to be one of the strongest units on the team, a far cry from the group Lewis-Moore started with in South Bend.

“We’ve gotta have a big year this year,” Lewis-Moore said. “I feel like we’ve always been good, but this year we’re pretty strong. We’ve got a lot of people coming back and it’s going to be a big year for us.”

Starting across from massive sophomore Stephon Tuitt, Lewis-Moore will be counted on to lead the defensive unit, the veritable old man after a tumultuous five years.


Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

@NDFootball Twitter

DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend



Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.


Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

Tom Loy, Irish 247

Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.