This article is a part of our 2013 Player Projections series. During the summer months Blue & Gold Illustrated will be evaluating players on Notre Dame’s projected two-deep depth chart — reviewing their careers to this point and discussing expectations for the year to come.
Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese has 146 career tackles at the Will position.
ILB Carlo Calabrese
6-foot-1 | 244 pounds
Experience: Played in 36 games, started in 22
Stats: 146 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks
Fifth-year senior Carlo Calabrese is one of the few players on Notre Dame’s roster who lost weight this offseason. Calabrese has been a physical player in the middle of the Irish defense since he took over at inside linebacker early in his sophomore season. This year he is trying to change his physique to become a better pass defender and get a step quicker in all aspects of his game.
“Carlo is changing his body composition,” defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said this spring. “He’s always been able to play everything that we’ve asked him to, I think you’ll see a different level of movement from him. There will be a lot less missed opportunities moving forward than there has been in the past. I’m really pleased with how his professionalism in his approach has changed.”
After a redshirt season in 2009, Calabrese stepped in as the starting Will linebacker on opening day of his sophomore season along with classmate Manti Te’o in the middle of the defense.
Sophomore year was actually Calabrese’s most productive on the stat sheet. He started the first eight games of the year before a hamstring held him back in November. He finished the year with 60 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a reputation as a hard-nosed downhill tackler.
His numbers dropped during his junior year as he started to split time with classmate Dan Fox at the Will position. Fox was quicker than Calabrese and better suited to drop into coverage. That duo has worked together since then in similar roles. Fox has taken over the majority of starts, but Calabrese continued as a regular contributor through all of the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
2013 Job Description
The new focus on movement for Calabrese should help his ability to stay on the field in more situations in his final year at Notre Dame. That will provide more freedom for Fox, who coaches expect to play a little bit at both the Will and Mike positions throughout the year.
Calabrese will have as big of a role this year as he’s had in the defense since he was a sophomore. Notre Dame will need him to post another 50-plus tackle year while helping new starter Jarrett Grace next to him along with the rest of the defense before the snap.
What make a good year?
The Verona, N.J., product said he plans to use the extra time afforded to a graduate student to take his game to the next level in the film room. Calabrese graduated with a design degree in May. A light class load gives him more time to focus on football.
“Just learning how to study our offense,” he said when asked how he planned to spend those extra hours. “Learning how to study different offenses. This is extra time to put in more work. It’s just knowing the formations, knowing what they’re going to do in those formations. Knowing what they’re going to do when they’re aligned like that. Those little things will take my game a step forward.”
A smarter, faster Calabrese in 2013 will be a nice dent in the team effort that it will take to replace former All-American Manti Te’o in the middle of the Irish defense.