March 28, 2001
The Notre Dame football team opened spring practice Tuesday at the Loftus Sports Complex. Throughout the spring, www.und.com will follow the progress of senior flanker Arnaz Battle and senior linebacker Tyreo Harrison.
Battle, who is fully recovered from a wrist injury which caused him to miss the final 10 games of the 2000 season, is making the much publicized switch from quarterback to flanker this spring. He joins Irish senior receivers Javin Hunter and David Givens and sophomores Lorenzo Crawford, Omar Jenkins and Ronnie Rodamer in forming one of the strongest and deepest positions on the 2001 squad.
Harrison is charged with filling the gap left by the graduation of second-team All-American and co-captain Anthony Denman. Harrison, along with senior Rocky Boiman, will assume much of the leadership role left vacant by Denman, as well as help develop the younger talent at the linebacker position including juniors Courtney Watson, Patrick Ryan, and Justin Thomas and sophomores Jerome Collins and Derek Curry, Mike Goolsby and Jason Sapp.
The following is our initial conversation with Arnaz Battle including the recovery from his wrist injury and what adjustments he will need to make in switching from quarterback to flanker.
How is the recovery from your broken wrist coming along?
"I went to the doctor last Wednesday and the fracture has closed up completely. There is still some tenderness and stiffness, but I am continuing to rehab it and work out. It is not interfering with my pass catching at all."
What is the biggest adjustment for you as a receiver rather than a quarterback?
"It is learning how to run as a receiver. Receiver is a completely different and tricky position. As a quarterback, you are rolling out, screening out and running the option. As a receiver, it is that quick, burst speed. I have to get that burst speed back so I can go out there and make plays."
Have you made the mental adjustment to the flanker position or is that an on-going thing?
"It is an on-going process. I have been working with Coach (Joker) Phillips, who has brought a new scheme to the receiving corp. It is going to take a lot of work for not only me, but everyone on the team, to get the scheme down. We are working hard and today we did a great job."
What do expect out of spring practice?
"I need to keep working hard and learn the position. Hopefully by the time of the spring game, I can go out there and make some big catches. I can't stop there though. I have to keep working hard with my teammates through the summer in preparing for a great team like Nebraska.
"I also would like to develop myself as a starter. Right now, I think I am part of the three wide receiver set, and also running back some kicks on special teams. I need to keep learning and hopefully things will take care of themselves this fall."