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Fighting Irish, Fighting Cancer

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Great Night to Be Irish

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Everyone knew former Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd was a sure-thing first rounder, but it was Minnesota's selection at pick #29 that turned a good night into a great night for Irish fans.

It all started when Arizona chose Floyd with pick #13, making him the highest Notre Dame selection since Bryant Young was drafted seventh in 1994. Floyd will join fellow Twin Cities native Larry Fitzgerald, setting up what could be a very impressive wide receiver tandem for the Cardinals.

About an hour and a half later, the Minnesota Vikings continued what is beginning to look like a push to be renamed 'Notre Dame North,' selecting 2011 Irish captain Harrison Smith with pick #29. The safety will team up with center John Sullivan ('07) and tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson ('07) in Minneapolis.

Smith, H INT return vs Pitt (KL)[2]-thumb-460x367-25734.jpg

In the age of Twitter, it was great to see the hundreds of tweets from students, fans and local media congratulating the former Irish stars. But more so, I enjoyed seeing those from current and former Notre Dame players celebrating the great news.

Having gotten to know Mike and Harrison a bit during my time at Notre Dame, I was awfully happy to see their NFL dreams come true on night one of this year's draft. I can only imagine how their Irish teammates felt, having become like their brothers over the past four years. From Manti Te'o to Matt Mulvey to Kapron Lewis-Moore, many could hardly put their excitement into words.

Let's hope this trend of Irish success continues when the NFL Draft resumes on Friday. For all the facts and figures surrounding tonight's draft picks, check out UND.com for the official Floyd and Smith press releases.

Follow @NDHardin (Notre Dame Director of Football Media Relations Brian Hardin) on Twitter for much more on the Irish in the NFL Draft, as seven other hopefuls await their football future this weekend.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Kelly Does His Little Turn On the Catwalk

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Order "The Shirt" here.

"1...2...3...Go Irish!"

"...doesn't want to embarrass anybody yet..."

ND Youth Sports TV: Irish Experience League

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"I just have one thing to say to Tim - 'You're huge!'"

"Kenneth - King of the Front Handspring"

Through the Irish Experience League the Notre Dame community takes the fun, spirit and values inherent in Notre Dame Sports to the community. Volunteers include varsity student-athletes, faculty, staff and students as the Notre Dame family grows stronger through community building in South Bend.

Learn more about the Irish Experience League at youthsports.nd.edu.

Planes and Trains

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And that's how the headline
"Notre Dame Team Wiped Out With With Hesburgh at the Helm"
was avoided.

My New Haircut

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Over 30 football players and many more student-athletes participated in 'The Bald and the Beautiful' event on campus in mid-April, helping the St. Baldrick's Foundation in its effort to find a cure for childhood cancer.

This Saturday, April 21 at 1:30 pm ET, the Notre Dame football team wraps up a month of spring practice with the 83rd annual Blue-Gold game. Notre Dame director of football media relations Brian Hardin (@NDHardin) compiled an A to (almost) Z Fan Guide and a Game Format and Scoring Guide detailing everything you might need in preparation for Saturday.

I would encourage you to check those out, but if you're short on time, here's a quick summary of the basics:

Alumni Flag Football Game: 11 a.m. at Notre Dame Stadium. Former Irish players Sergio Brown ('10) and Golden Tate will serve as honorary coaches. Use your Blue-Gold ticket to enter beginning at 10:30 a.m. (weather permitting).

Broadcast: The game will air live nationally on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus). The NBCSN broadcast wil also be available streaming at UND.com. For radio listeners, the game will be available locally on Sports Radio 960 AM and 96.1 FM.

Game Clock: Traditional 4-quarter, 60-minute game, except the second half will utilize a running clock.

Halftime: The 15-minute break will feature a rugby match between Notre Dame's club team and a national team featuring former Irish running back James Aldridge ('10).

Jerseys: The Irish coaching staff has elected to split the teams Offense vs. Defense, rather than Blue vs. Gold. The offense will wear blue and the defense will be in white.

Parking: Tailgate lots are free to the public and open at 8 a.m. on Saturday.

Rule Changes: There will be no kickoffs and each possession will start at the 35-yard line. All punts will be fair caught. All players are live, including quarterbacks. The defense can bring pressure on third down and snaps inside the 20-yard line.

Scoring: The offense will earn points the same way it does in all football games. The defensive scoring is as follows: stop before 50-yard line (4 points), stop after 50-yard line (2 pts), turnover forced before 50-yard line (7 pts), turnover forced after 50-yard line (3 pts), forced field goal attempt (1 pt).

Tickets: Box office opens at 9 a.m. - $15 for adults, $10 for youth (18 and under).

Coach Kelly Explains Blue-Gold Format

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We're less than 72 hours from the 83rd annual Blue-Gold game...

This morning after practice, head coach Brian Kelly announced some changes to the game's format, explaining that the teams will be broken up as Offense against Defense, rather than simply Blue versus Gold.

Coach Kelly explains in the video above that this format is designed to prevent any of the Irish players from having to play for nearly the entire contest, a problem that would have occurred had the Irish taken a traditional spring game approach.

As such, there will be a different scoring system designed so that both the offensive and defensive squads can score points. Offensively, the Irish will stick to traditional scoring (six points for a touchdown, three for a field goal, etc.).

On the other side, the defensive scoring will focus on turnovers. Led by Coach Diaco, the defense will earn seven points for a turnover forced before the 50-yard line, and three points for a takeaway after midfield.

Similarly, it will earn four points for a turnover before the 50, and two for a stop beyond it. The defense can also earn one point by forcing a field goal attempt.

For more on the spring game format, check out the release on UND.com.

Smith Has Tools If Packers Go Safety First

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11.19.11 Game Day 2188.JPG
Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame.

We're just eight days away from the 2012 NFL Draft, with nine former Notre Dame football players hoping to get the call that will change their lives. One of the those NFL hopefuls is safety Harrison Smith, the 2011 Irish captain. Smith is expected by many to be a second round pick, but some draft pundits also believe he could be a late first rounder.

The Green Bay Packers, who have the 28th pick, may be one of the teams interested in the Knoxville, Tenn. native. Their former Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins underwent neck surgery during the 2011 season, and is still waiting to hear from doctors before he decides on his playing future.

The Packers finished the regular season with a 15-1 record, but fell to the New York Giants in the divisional playoffs. Smith is one player who may be able to help a secondary that struggled for much of the 2011 campaign.

Tyler Dunne has more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

At a sturdy 6 feet 2 inches and 213 pounds, Smith is intelligent, long and fast. He's one player who may be capable of covering today's athletic tight end. Throughout his meetings with teams, that has been the hot topic.

"There's a big tight end in every division that dominated last year," Smith said. "Nobody found a great way to stop it without leaving other things open. So that's something people are definitely focused on.

"How do you stop these big, athletic guys? I think the best way to stop them is with bigger, athletic safeties that match up better with them. It's hard to put a corner on them. It's hard to put a linebacker on them. A bigger safety who can run with them and make plays on the ball is something teams put a lot of value on."

Visit JSonline.com for the full article, and tune in to next weekend's draft to see where Smith and his Irish teammates wind up.

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