By Brian Castello
University of Notre Dame Football Walk-on Quarterback
Editor's note: Notre Dame walk-on quarterback Brian Castello is contributing a daily diary from the Sun Bowl for the South Bend Tribune this week.
EL PASO, Texas - Sunday the Sun Bowl journey began. I was about five minutes away from missing my flight out of Pittsburgh, and when I met up with Theo Riddick in Houston, he said he barely beat the snowstorm in New Jersey.
My roommate, Andrew Hendrix, told me how they held his flight in Dallas for 10 minutes for a reason that no one knew. Then Kendall Moore came running on, and it was clear that his flight situation had been chaotic as well.
Anyways, once everyone arrived in El Paso by the 4:30 deadline set by Coach Kelly. We didn't waste much time starting the Sun Bowl activities as we headed to New Mexico for a BBQ. On our 10-minute trip there, everyone made sure they pointed out the Mexican border with an excitement you would expect to see from your young ones on Christmas morning.
Upon arriving to Sunland Casino, the hosts of the BBQ, the Miami-Notre Dame rivalry quickly resurfaced in the form of a talent show.
Danny Spond started it off with an original piece on the piano, titled "The Quiet Destruction," which was pretty darn good. Miami followed with one of their freshman on the bass guitar. He was OK, but it didn't have the musical genius that Spond had just displayed. Point Irish.
Next up, Jamoris Slaughter and Ian Williams graced us with a freestyle that even the U had to be impressed with -- or maybe not. He took a couple shots at them, which they probably didn't like too much.
For anyone who is interested, I heard there is a video of it on the web somewhere. Then one of the Miami guys stepped up to the piano with a solid performance, but again on the short end. Finally, for our finale, Manti Te'o, Justin Utupo and Kona Schwenke performed the Haka, which if you have never seen it, you absolutely must go look it up.
Now picture those three guys doing it. I know, scary right? Their finale was another singing performance. Clean sweep for us, if you ask me, 3-0.
After the talent show had finished, they asked for one player from each team to impersonate their respective coaches. For us, it was easy, as we have two guys that do great impersonations, Nick Lezynski and Ryan Sheehan.
They stepped up to the mike and had us all rolling on the floor laughing. The best part about it was that they didn't stop with coach Kelly. Ryan does a great coach Longo impression, and Nick's go-to is his coach Diaco impression.
Luckily, like me, Nick and Ryan don't play, so they didn't have much to lose. We always joke around saying the coaches don't have much leverage on us in the first place by saying, "What are they going to do? Play us less?" In all reality they could probably kick us off the team, but I'm sure you get the point.
Coach Kelly gave us a little free time at night, which obviously was a big hit. Some guys went to see a movie, while others went to a restaurant to watch a game. El Paso is a very lively city with lots to do, so needless to say we kept ourselves busy.
Monday was our first day of practice, which meant more signals for me.