The daily schedule for Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese is full of more holes than he’s been used to in his first four years in South Bend — holes that he’s hoping to fill with football.
Fifth-year senior Carlo Calabrese said he is spending most of this time this spirng at the Will linebacker position.
The fifth-year senior said he’s finished all but the last few requirements for the degree in design he’ll receive in May. His light class load this spring has given him more time to spend working on the nuances of becoming a better linebacker.
“It’s great. It’s good that I’ve got all my classes done early. Now I don’t have too much work,” Calabrese said Wednesday morning. “Now I have more time to study and just get better in the weight room, just getting better all around really. It’s good having a lot more time.”
Calabrese split time with classmate Dan Fox during the last two seasons at the inside linebacker position alongside Manti Te’o. He finished his senior season with 49 tackles and a forced fumble as the run-stopping half of his tandem with Fox. This season, with Te’o moving on, that twosome might not be working in the same rotation.
Fox has been limited during spring practice due to offseason shoulder surgery. He is expected to spend time at both inside linebacker positions when he is healthy. Calabrese was also mentioned as a potential swing player between the Mike (strong side) and Will (weak side) positions. Junior Jarrett Grace has impressed the Irish coaching staff so far this spring, but there still seems to be a bit of confusion about where Calabrese stands in that rotation.
“Carlo is going to be the Will. He is not a multi-position guy for us,” Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said in an interview last week. “Dan [Fox] is definitely going to be a multi-position player for us, and Grace will be at Mike. That’s mechanically how we’re going to structure ourselves.”
Head coach Brian Kelly didn’t completely eliminate the possibility that Calabrese could work at either position. Calabrese said he’s worked mostly at the Will spot, but is still learning the responsibilities of the other position in case he’s needed there.
“[I’m] getting the hang of it just learning little things here and there about it, but I’m primarily at Will,” Calabrese said. “It’s not too much different. …We gotta see how things work out. I’m not really too sure what’s going on yet. It’s only spring ball. We’re just working on everything right now and going from there.”
Calabrese said he’s been more focused in the past weeks on tuning up the small parts of his game. He said he is focused on learning to study film more effectively so he can better anticipate what each team will do with certain formations and personnel packages, which is something Te’o often credited for his impressive final season with the Irish.
Calabrese said he learned more from the 12-0 regular season last fall than he did from the one loss in January to Alabama in the BCS title game. Five of Notre Dame’s wins last season came by seven points or less. Calabrese said those 23 points that separated a 12-0 record from a 7-5 record have been a big motivation for him during the offseason.
“A couple games we fought to the last seconds — a couple goal line stands,” he said. “We know it just takes a second to just lose it all that’s a big thing we learned last season. That’s a great learning experience.”
With most of his classroom learning behind him, Calabrese is hoping to spend some extra time making the most of what he picked up on the field last fall.