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Sheldon Day- Indianapolis, Indiana
Recruiting Rank: 247- 4 star/ ESPN- 4 star/ Rivals-4 Star
Sheldon Day's arrival in South Bend came with a great deal of excitement and deservedly so. Coming out of Warren Central in Indianapolis, Day represented the prototypical defensive lineman for former DC Bob Diaco's 3-4 defense. Day displayed a rare blend of size and explosiveness that has allowed him to excel in both the 3-4 as a DE and in Brian VanGorder's aggressive 4-3 as a DT.
Day has had a very steady progression over his three years with the Irish. During his freshman year, Day finished with 23 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss while mainly serving as a backup to defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Kapron Lewis-Moore. During his first year, Day showed flashes of the power and burst that made him a highly sought prospect.
With Lewis-Moore graduating, Day became a starter at DE his sophomore year and there was an expected uptick in production with 33 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. With Stephon Tuitt hindered by injury for much of the year, Day was shouldered with more of the load and performed well under the pressure.
Perhaps the most exciting improvement came with Brian VanGorder's 4-3 defense and Day moving to DT alongside Jarron Jones on the interior of the line. Once again Day's production improved with 40 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. But what really changed was how Day improved as a pass rusher. Over his first two seasons at Notre Dame, Sheldon had two total quarterback hurries. Last year that number exploded to 11. Some of this is attributable to Day being allowed to use his uncanny explosiveness against interior lineman on a more consistent basis.
While he lacks prototypical size at only 6'1, Sheldon Day more than makes up for it with his ability to beat offensive lineman off the ball and disrupt plays in the backfield. For the upcoming season, this ability will be key for the Irish defense, with some inexperience along the defensive line, Day's presence will be very important in the growth of those young players.
Overall Day's senior year is important both for what he can do on the field and for how important he is off the field. On the field, Day will provide an excellent pass rush from the defensive tackle position as well as some stout run defense. Off the field, it cannot be overstated how great it is to have an experienced player and captain coming back into a meeting room with so many young players. A successful senior season for Day would not only involve the stats he is able to put up but also the foundation he can create along the defensive line for the next several seasons.