Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

Shembo should be ready for Pitt

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Outside linebacker Prince Shembo missed last week's game because of a family medical emergency. According to receiver TJ Jones, Shembo's father suffered a brain aneurysm similar to the that killed his father in June. 

Andre Jones, an outside linebacker on Notre Dame's 1988 national championship team, was 42.

 From what I understand his dad had the same thing my dad had," Jones said Wednesday night. "I just spoke to him to find out his dad was all right. I told him I was happy for him. We just basically agreed that it's a crazy world and you never know what's going to happen."

Shembo has two tackles, including one for a loss, in the first two games. Freshman Troy Niklas started in his place in Saturday's 31-13 win over Michigan State and had three tackles to help Notre Dame's defense hold the Spartans 29 yards on 23 attempts.

"The key to that position is, 'Does the ball get outside the defense,'" Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "It's an easy one to critique even from the 50th row. If the ball is getting outside the defense you know you have a problem. He did a pretty good job, obviously, as far as run defense. He has got a lot ot learn. But it was great to get him out there. 

"I actually did the numbers. We played 50 of the 70 players we took to the hotel. It's great that so many guys were in the game on Saturday."

Although only a freshman, Niklas looks more like an upper classmen, allowing him to compete against older players.

"Physically the guys call him Hercules," Kelly said of the 6-foot-6 1/2, 250-pounder. "He has prepared himself. He's nutrition conscious. I've said this many times, the development of players today is not necessarily in the weight room. It's how they live their life and what they put in their body. Those guys are really, really conscious of what they put in their body."

Expect Shembo to return to the starting lineup against Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"He's back in school," Kelly said of the sophomore. "I'm really happy. A very difficult situation could've been worse."

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on September 22, 2011 10:45 AM.

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