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October 17, 2013

Day ready to go . . . again

He won’t say he’s 100 percent.

“I’m feeling great, actually,” said Sheldon Day one moment.

“Pretty close. I’m pushing off and doing the things I did before the injury occurred,” said Day a bit later.

The long-awaited return to the lineup by the sophomore defensive end since suffering a high-right ankle sprain in the Purdue game should finally arrive this weekend when the Irish take on West Coast rival Southern California under the lights in Notre Dame Stadium.

After missing the Michigan State game, Day was prepared to play against Oklahoma, but suffered a pre-game setback.

“I felt like I was physically and mentally prepared,” said Day of the game against the Sooners. “It was just a minor tweak to where I didn’t feel comfortable and I didn’t feel like I could give my team my best effort.”

One week later against Arizona State, Day was ready to give it a go again. Credited with just one play - he said he didn’t start the game, but the Notre Dame stat sheet lists him as the starter against the Sun Devils - Day took himself out after that one snap.

“I thought I was going to play in the game,” Day said. “I was mentally prepared, physically prepared. I didn’t feel like I was 100 percent and couldn’t push off and really deliver a blow to my opponent. I’m feeling good this week and I feel like I can really impact this game.”

Day did what he could do during his absence from the lineup. He provided pointers for senior Kona Schwenke, who is still adapting to defensive end after spending the last three seasons working at nose guard. He offered moral support to Schwenke, starters Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix, and young players Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell.

There were times during the Oklahoma and Arizona State games in particular when he thought about fastening his chinstrap, telling the Irish coaching staff he was ready to go, and running onto the field.

“There are always those moments where it’s like, ‘I can’t bear this. I really want to be out on the field helping my brothers out,’” Day smiled. “But from a maturity standpoint, I felt like I would have hurt my team more by being out there.”

Day’s intentions are to take the maximum number of snaps this weekend against the Trojans.

“As many as I can,” Day said. “I’ve been full-go this week, taking as many reps as I can to be mentally and physically prepared for the game.”

Oh, and if you see Day wearing two different shoes, it’s not a special shoe to protect his recovering ankle.

“I’m a mix-and-match guy,” Day laughed.


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