Notre Dame Football: Darius Fleming in Position to Shape Young Linebackers

Jim SheridanCorrespondent IApril 21, 2011

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 21: Darius Fleming #45 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish moves to sacke quarterback Zach Frazer #10 of the Univeristy of Connecticut Huskies at Notre Dame Stadium on November 21, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame outside linebacker Darius Fleming knows all about making an early impact.

As a freshman in 2008, Fleming got the starting nod in three games for the Fighting Irish. As a highly touted defender out of Saint Rita's in Chicago, Fleming came to South Bend as the 34th best defensive player in the country and appeared in all 13 games as a freshman.

What this translates into is an ideal situation for Aaron Lynch and Ishaq Williams.

Staying within the organization, take the Irish tight ends over the past decade as an example. Seemingly every recruiting cycle brings another stud to campus who reaps the benefits of having an upperclassmen at his position.

When a star like Kyle Rudolph goes down and the next man in is Tyler Eifert, the offense carries on without missing a beat.

Darius Fleming is in the position right now to take these two early enrollees under his wing and have them prepared for their first season in South Bend.

Coaches coach, but a seasoned veteran like Fleming has the ability to teach these young men the intangibles, little things like a good place to eat or a good place to stay away from.

Advice like that can be irreplaceable for a young student athlete in his first year away from home.

Fleming has walked in the shoes of Lynch and Williams, he has been solid and steady over the past three years and is the perfect candidate to pass the torch to the underclassmen.

Looking at the career of Darius Fleming thus far, the first thing that stands out immediately is his desire to be on the field. In addition to his three starts as a freshman, Fleming also logged 198 special teams appearances.

As a sophomore Flemming logged 201:33 of playing time, seven starts and 60 special team appearances.

As a junior Fleming started 13 games and logged 728 total snaps on defense. 

With an increase in playing time, Flemings' numbers have risen every season as well—he finished his junior season with 48 tackles and six sacks.

Fleming, a business major, is not only a constant contributor on the field but off the field as well. He is the perfect choice to show this young group of defensive stars the the ins and outs.

There can be no bigger compliment than leaving your stamp on the position that you vacate after graduation. Darius Fleming is in the position to do just that.