Welcome back to another edition of Subway Domer’s Wu Am I?series. This is a look at who the 36 players of impact are on this Notre Dame Football team for 2010. If you have missed some of the previous Wu Am I? posts from 2010, please check out: Chambers 1&2, Chambers 3&4, Chambers 5&6, Chambers 7&8, Chambers 9&10, Chambers 11&12, Chambers 13&14, Chambers 15&16, Chambers 17&18, Chambers 19&20.
Lrt’s keep this bitch rolling, as we open Chambers 21 & 22…
Emeka Nwankwo #91
6’5″ 280 lbs. Senior (RS)
North Miami Beach, Florida
Wu Name: King Mek Tha Dread of Dade
Emeka’s full name is “Chuckwuemeka Chibuzor Nwankwo.” So… he has a little more “Wu” in him than the rest. When Nwankwo committed to Notre Dame it was another offensive line victory for Charlie Weis and his staff- and another victory for Notre Dame in south Florida. The moves didn’t take long for Nwankwo. He moved from the offensive line to the defensive line once he arrived in South Bend, and he went fro high school standout, to redshirting his freshman year in 2007. In 2008, Notre Dame did a weird kind of switcheroo with their defense as they ran a 4-3 with 3-4 personnel. Nwankwo was classified as a defensive end, but he did play defensive tackle as well. He played sparingly in 2008, and according to his bio he didn’t play at all in 2009. I could of swore that he saw action last year, but I guess not. I wonder why that was. Was he hurt? Was he in the doghouse? What could it have been? Whatever it was, it sparked a change in Emeka.
Back in Febuary, I was on a podcast with In The Bleachers and was asked about a surprise player for the Irish in 2010. My answer was quick and powerful… Emeka Nwankwo. Before anybody else could lay claim to “calling it,” I did it first. And wouldn’t you know it… it was happening. The coaches were raving about him in the spring and article after article was being written about him. What was said by the staff, was that they weren’t sure that Nwankwo was all that concerned about playing- but he certainly was now. Emeka is one of those guys on the team that has a slight attitude “problem.” Well, people call it a problem, but it is that kind of attitude that is needed along the defensive line. I blame the previous coaches for not channelling that anger and aggressiveness into his play on the field. That’s one of the reasons that they are out and the new staff is here. We have no way of really knowing if Emeka is going to blow up in 2010. KLM and Ethan Johnson are the probable starters- and for good reason, but this Irish defense is going to need a guy coming off of the bench to give quality production from the edge. Here’s something for you; Emeka was born on September 24, 1988. That same day, Notre Dame destroyed Purdue 52-7 on its way to a perfect season and a national title. Notre Dame’s first game is against Purdue on September 4th. DUN DUN DAA…
Darrin Walls #2
6’0″ 185 lbs.
Wu Name: Action-Packed Mentalist
Darrin Walls was one of those prospects that Notre Dame wasn’t supposed to get anymore. Tall corners with speed, just weren’t heading to South Bend like they had in the past. The suspense for Darrin’s signature was immense as Notre Dame was head-to-head with Michigan. The Irish won out, and Walls became a freshman in 2006. Right away, in 2006, Darrin made his presence known. I don’t recall if he started that first game of the season (and I’m too lazy to look it up right now), but he saw a ton of action and as a true freshman, in his first college game ever, he was asked to cover what was the best WR in college football; Calvin Johnson. 2007 saw Walls struggle at times on what was a bad team, but he had one of the better highlights that year with his INT return for TD against Penn State in Happy Valley. He also had 9 pass-breakups that year. In 2008 Walls left the team for personal reasons but returned for the 2009 season. He looked a bit rusty, and as I have stated before… the scheme and poor coaching didn’t do him any favors. After 3 seasons of play Walls is 9th all-time at ND with 16 pass break-ups.
Walls is now in his final year of eligibility with the Fighting Irish, and will be in a fight for ownership for one of the corners with Robert Blanton and Gary Gray. Early indications are that Walls should be and will be a starter. What is a perhaps a bigger question is if Walls can finally claim the title of “lockdown corner,” that Irish fans have so desperately wanted to pin on him. It’s not that Darrin hasn’t played well, it’s just that we have been waiting for a star to go supernova. Is that fair? No, not really, but those are the expectations at a place like Notre Dame. Can Walls finally go beyond what has been expected? Can he push himself to the edge and say, “Fuck it… I’m going FARTHER,”? Of course he can- but will he. 2010 could smell a lot like… redemption.