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Irish A-to-Z: Anthony Rabasa

Aug 8, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

Wake Forest v Notre Dame Getty Images

After three seasons looking for a position, it’s now or never for senior Anthony Rabasa. After bouncing around Bob Diaco’s system, Rabasa has a chance to simplify his thought process, playing defensive end for Brian VanGorder.

There’s no better depth chart for a player like Rabasa. With little experience behind Ishaq Williams and Romeo Okwara, Rabasa has every opportunity you could ask for as a seldom-used senior finally presented a window to play.

Let’s take a closer look at the Miami native.


6’2.5″ 250 lbs.
Senior, No. 56



A three-star prospect, Rabasa was a Top 150 player per ESPN and also played in the USA vs. The World game. Rabasa had offers from Florida, Florida State, LSU and Miami, but committed to the Irish before his senior season.

Even as a recruit, Rabasa was a bit of a tweener, not the same size or length of other defensive ends Notre Dame targeted, even though that’s where he played in high school.

“Anthony Rabasa, a big skill player for us, linebacker. Big skill,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “Another young man that we believe, when you look at his film, his motor, his ability to go every snap really was what we loved about him… You see him with his hand down quite a bit. He’s a guy that can obviously stand up for us as well and gives us great flexibility. He’s going to get bigger, he’s going to get stronger.”



Freshman Season (2011): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2012): Appeared in two games, seeing playing time against Boston College and Wake Forest. Collected loan tackle against Wake Forest.

Junior Season (2013): Played in five games, making a total of six tackles on the season. Made three tackles against Air Force, including one TFL.



Rabasa has bounced between inside and outside linebacker positions, trying to find the right fit in the Notre Dame defense. He’s done that now, and we’ll see if it’s too little, too late for the senior who clearly had some impressive opportunities in front of him when he chose Notre Dame.

We haven’t seen anything from Rabasa that points to a breakout season ahead, but he did look the part of complementary piece during spring drills, when we saw No. 56 make a play or two on’s practice videos.

One of the few undersized players recruited by Kelly and Diaco, Rabasa hasn’t turned into the player many hoped when the big-time Florida prep star chose Notre Dame.



Realistically, Rabasa is facing an uphill challenge as he tries to work his way into the two-deep, with young talented freshmen ready to get their shot at playing. But VanGorder spoke candidly about looking past previous results and starting fresh when deciding who will play in 2014. And if Rabasa can provide a situational spark getting after the passer, he’ll have every chance to do it in VanGorder’s sub-heavy packages.

Physically, four years in Paul Longo’s strength system should give Rabasa a head start. But if Rabasa doesn’t find his niche this season, he’ll likely see his career at Notre Dame end after 2014.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Will Fuller
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Romeo Okwara
James Onwualu
C.J. Prosise

  1. jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Q: How do you go from being an ESPN top 150 player recruited by Fla, FSU, Miami, and LSU to playing in 5 games (that’s not even starting, just playing) for the Irish? Did Diaco really know what he was doing? Well, you could argue that Diaco ‘s D went 12-0 in 2012 I guess, but when I see things like this I just wonder how it could happen.

    • NotreDan - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      How it happens is that only X% (pick a number) of the ESPN Top 150 are in the Top 150 in talent their senior year.

      It’s all averages. It’s also why great teams can be built with 3 stars, but in the end, statistically speaking, teams that recruit higher and higher “stars” do better and better.

      To bad they don’t weight stars with GPA… we are, after all, still talking about primarily academic institutions no?

      The other remedy would be to have minimum academic achievement standards (like actually pursuing a real degree, with a minimum class load, with a GPA of X) for players to remain eligible. This is the part of johnnygaltisfelatingmonkeys’ schtick that is sadly true… the lack of these standards is what soils CFB with the likes of Aladumba and U$C.

      • blackirish23 - Aug 9, 2014 at 9:36 AM

        Actually Notre Dame does try to help it’s student athletes by allowing them to only take the allowable minimum number of credits per semester (12 credits), and making up the rest in the summer.

        For those of us in higher education, you should know that typical financial aid covers Fall and Spring semesters ONLY. Going to summer school involves additional financial aid meaning more money. However, Notre Dame covers all these costs in its athletic scholarships ensuring that student athletes are not overwhelmed with academic rigors and athletic participation. And this is done for ALL ATHLETES and not just the revenue generating sports.

        So no, we do not need to lower our academic standards to attract marginal students who are great athletes. I think the current system is built to ensure success in both ventures. The student athletes just need to take advantage.

    • 1historian - Aug 10, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Rabasa has done his best but he came up against players more talented than he was. Hopefully they can find a spot for him, hopefully this is his year, but if it’s not he will still graduate with a degree worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $125,000 and memories to last a lifetime.

      Not bad.

  2. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    And of those numbers the SEC players make up the majority of the NFL draft.. PURE SEC TALENT

    • iamgolden4life - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      Hey john the SEC bulge in my pants in throbbing, Since your the best I call on you to relieve the pressure. Thank you in advance for being so good @ your job. WeAreND

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        Wouldn’t that make you a homo sexual. If you are looking for a discreet way to get off may I suggest a confession at a local catholic church. Ask for the reach around special but remeber 14 years old is the cut off age.

      • mediocrebob - Aug 8, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        New material from John! Wait…

      • mediocrebob - Aug 8, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        And I believe homosexual is one word. Illiteracy is one of the many things ruining this country. Thanks a lot Obama. I’m sure John is an avid supporter.

      • gbsk - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        John Galt is a libertarian judging by his name and his previous views expressed. Liberals will not clam him.

    • johngaltismyfriend - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Speaking of numbers, ND tied Bama with the number of players drafted this past year and only one less than the leader LSU. Not bad for a bunch of midwestern, MAC talent, underacheivers.

      But anyway, did you get all moved back into your mom’s basement? Home sweet home, right John!

      • mediocrebob - Aug 8, 2014 at 6:46 PM

        So they’re drafting ” MAC talent” to the nfl now?

        Another solid contribution , John. Keep it up!

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:48 PM

      1 year and you’re claiming victory over the SEC / Alabama. LOL you are to funny… Yes Notre Dame did well last year but most of those players are once again hurt or not up to par to play in the NFL. In contrast most SEC players will play day 1 in the NFL. Next year the SEC will be TOP DAWG again in recruiting. My entire point about the SEC is that ND needs to recruit more in the South..

      • irishmob89 - Aug 8, 2014 at 5:51 PM

        “My entire point about the SEC is that ND needs to recruit more in the South”

        They are recruiting more in the South. You’re like a broken record. You keep repeating the same ESPN propaganda over and over. Yes John, we all know the SEC is the best conference. We all know the South has the best recruits. It’s been like that for quite a while now. You don’t think Brian Kelly knows that? Kelly said himself that they are focusing on recruiting more in the South. He’s recruited the likes of Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston, Corey Robinson and many more from the South. Notre Dame also gets a lot of talent from the West Coast. Max Redfield ditched USC and came to Notre Dame, right? The 2013 class ranked #3 and was stacked with talent from down South and Kelly continues to target more Southern recruits, so your “entire point” isn’t anything inspirational.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 8, 2014 at 5:57 PM

        well Excuse me Mr know it all.. LOL Yes but that South recruiting had burned off. We are back in the midwest scraping up bottom feeders. Will we even fill out our recruiting class or is that all we get with Brian K. One great recruiting class and we are back to being Illinois.

      • irishdog80 - Aug 8, 2014 at 7:59 PM

        I’m not sure what your definition of “most” and “not up to par to play in the NFL” is, but you either need to work on your reading comprehension skills or research and probably both.

        Martin, Watts, Shembo, and Tuitt are projected as starters/regular rotation players for their respective teams. A rare position to be in for offensive and defensive linemen that typically have to earn their stripes.

        Niklas is working his way up the depth chart with an ND player Carlson holding down the starting job.

        Nix, Jackson and Taylor are nursing injuries with their respective teams being “cautious” about having them return too early from their injuries since they want them at full strength.

        Since it is clear to me that you have a purely superficial knowledge of football and a supercilious attitude to match, I bet you can’t even tell us what Clowney’s status is…if you know who Clowney is.

        And please stop with the creepy and oddball references to confession.

    • 1historian - Aug 10, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Rabasa has done his best but he came up against players more talented than he was. Hopefully they can find a spot for him, hopefully this is his year, but if it’s not he will still graduate with a degree worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $125,000 and memories to last a lifetime.

      Not bad.

  3. irishmob89 - Aug 8, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    You must have a strange definition of the term “bottom feeders” because the 2014 class ranked #11. Back to back classes of #3 and #11 rankings isn’t too bad in my opinion.

  4. fnc111 - Aug 8, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    Arriba Rabasa

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM

      SEC Player slave to the Mid West / Big Ten Football Program… I wonder if Brian K will have a million excuses this year.

  5. upthera44 - Aug 8, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    I got on here to see what people had to say about Anthony Rabasa, and instead there are 16 comments responding to JohnGalt.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      Everyone is learning college football from the sec master / notre Dame fan.

      • 1historian - Aug 10, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        (with thanks to Ann Landers)

        You (may) have a point, but if you keep your hat on perhaps no one will notice.

    • wisner74 - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      My thoughts exactly, Upthera44. So much nonsense lately here.

      I’ve wondered about Rabasa and have been hoping he’d get a chance. It appears he’s not a special teams player either. I wonder if he’s even a letterman.

      Maybe it’s the parent in me, but I always feel some sympathy for guys who come in with high expectations for themselves (what scholarship athlete doesn’t?) and end up not making much of an impact. I hope he gets to play some meaningful minutes this season.

  6. getsome99 - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Notre Dame is already pulling players out of the south. The ’13 class had plenty of SEC territory players. This should pick up when we start playing against ACC teams. We’re also pulling top recruits out of Texas and continue to get out fair share from PAC-12 country. No other school can do this. They can find plenty of 5 start illiterate kids in their own region. Notre Dame’s patch is bigger for one, but we have to use all of it so we can get the best students and players.

    • nudeman - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:53 PM

      Rah rah rah … rose colored glasses and stained underwear, no doubt.
      Go do some air pushups, Knute

  7. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    Notre Dame – Tight End U —— LOL — Try NFL – SEC

    • irishmob89 - Aug 8, 2014 at 10:08 PM

      That’s actually a flattering comment. You have to take 14 SEC schools combined to out due just one school in Notre Dame when it comes to Tight Ends.

  8. getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:02 AM

    Prince Shembo looked good tonight with a sack and 4 tackles. He’s pushing for a starting spot in Atlanta at ILB.

    Stephon Tuitt is also having a great camp and will play big minutes for Pitt this year.

    Troy Niklas appears to be the best blocking TE in Arizona.

    Chris Watt will most likely start at RG for San Diego by week 1.

    And keep an eye on UDFA Dan Fox in NY.

    Atkinson had -2 yards rushing in his preseason debut in Oak. Practice squad.

    • nudeman - Aug 9, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      These are really great updates, Knute. Thanks.
      Great info

      • getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        Sure thing, Hargis.

      • getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Am I going to have to make you my whipping boy again this year?

      • nudeman - Aug 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        Do whatever you want.
        Any more updates on former ND players? Or maybe on the NFL in general?
        Perhaps Benghazi?

        You are the beacon of enlightenment. The oracle, if you will. And pretty much the only reason I still check in here.

        Air pushups anyone?

      • getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        At least we know which school and football team I represent. We have to listen to your worn out bullcrap year after year and it’s still unclear what your affiliation is. You sound like an Ohio state troll, but it’s hard to tell with your multiple personalities (NotreDan, paulhargis, johngalt, etc). Regardless, you have about 3-4 of the regular posters here who support you, but everybody seems to be over your tired bit. Especially knute’s ghost, who has been owning your ass with regularity lately.

      • nudeman - Aug 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Excellent points as always. I really appreciate the shout out.
        With all the wisdom that resides in your cranium it’s amazing how you remain so humble.
        Oh wait, you don’t.

        I expect if a spat breaks out here today on Iraq, you’ll claim you’re half Iraqi.
        Or maybe Kurd.

        And this is exactly why I respect you so much. You’re so able to adapt.
        God bless you sir, and Allah Akbar too. Have a wonderful Sunday

        Got any info on Heggie? How many tackles or blocks he made in Thursday’s 7-7 scrimmage?

    • wisner74 - Aug 9, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      Actually, getsome, I agree with Nude. I do appreciate the update on what’s been happening with ND’s NFL rookies. I am always interested in that this time of year, but usually lack the energy to track that myself (unless they’re with the Bears).

      So, thanks!

      • getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 7:42 PM


        Kap Lew Moore is also back after sitting out last season with the injury from the Bama game. Made a couple tackles in his 1st preseason game. It sounds like the Ravens are counting on him to be a force on the interior of that d line.

  9. yaketyyacc - Aug 9, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    Well Rabasa did as well as his talent allowed him to do. He could have decided to transfer and play for another lower level program. He didn’t. to his credit. and he will leave Notre Dame with a huge smile of satisfaction, holding a Notre Dame Diploma! Go Irish!

    • blackirish23 - Aug 9, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      Plus he can always play out a 5th year for Diaco at UConn.

  10. johngaltsassisspeaking - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    My butt is itchy.

  11. getsome99 - Aug 9, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Rabasa is another example of how far Kelly has brought this program in terms of depth. A 3 star prospect from SEC territory who will make his contribution to this team in practice. During the Weis years, we had to rely on walk on’s to compete against during the week and it showed on the field on Saturdays.

    Filling out the two deep with star players has never been an for Notre Dame . It’s not having enough 3 and 4 star quality players that can go hard very snap during practice that’s kept the Irish in the 2nd tier behind the SEC.

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