FORT WAYNE — Tony Springmann is a perfect fit for Notre Dame’s defensive line, because he can fit anywhere.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Bishop Dwenger graduate played both end positions and nose guard for the Irish last season, and he is expected to do that again as he enters his junior season.
Springmann is so diverse, he could even fill into a spot the Irish don’t need.
“He could even be an offensive lineman, if need be. That’s not what we need him for,” Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston said. “He’s got great flexibility, and he’s an aggressive football player.
“That makes him a hot commodity.”
Springmann was a solid prospect coming out of high school because he was multifaceted.
Elston said the Irish staff looks for players who can learn the game and have savvy, players you can put in situations that call for athleticism or for them to be aggressive and powerful.
“That’s why we like to recruit big players, big, tall, long players, who are athletic and fast, that can do multiple jobs,” Elston said.
Springmann, who didn’t play as a freshman, was in all 13 games last season and finished with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and three quarterback hurries.
He will enter this season as an option behind projected starters Stephon Tuitt, a junior end, Sheldon Day, a sophomore end, and Louis Nix III, a senior nose guard.
Tuitt, Day and Nix combined for 120 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 16 sacks.
Springmann will be joined in reserve roles by several players: senior nose guard Kona Schwenke (10 games, 7 tackles – one for loss), fifth-year senior nose guard Tyler Stockton, senior end Justin Utupo (22 games) and sophomore end Jarron Jones (didn’t play last season).
The Irish also have added freshmen Isaac Rochell and Jacob Matuska.
Junior Chase Hounshell will be missing as he recovers from his second shoulder surgery in three years.
And while Springmann’s role will not change for Notre Dame, Elston expets him to continue to improve.
“Tony has done an excellent job,” Elston said. “Tony exemplifies everything we are looking for on the field, off the field. He is just a great young man, a great student, and he’s going to be a fantastic football player if he continues to develop the way he has.”