Nile Sykes isn’t quite at the stage of being bittersweet about leaving high school and moving onto college at this point.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” the 2014 Notre Dame linebacker signee said. “Maybe when I actually move in, it will set in that I’m not going to be back home with all of my friends and I’m off on my own. But then again, I’m excited to get started playing, getting to meet all of the guys and just being at Notre Dame. I’m just all-around excited.
“I’m very excited. I can’t wait. I just graduated (last) Sunday, so now I’m just counting down the days.”
Since National Signing Day in February, the 2014 Illinois native has been following the workout program provided by Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo.
“I work out with a trainer, so he’s been taking me through it,” the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder from Montini Catholic said. “I think it’s been going pretty well. I’ve definitely gotten stronger. My conditioning is up. That’s basically the whole point of it, so I think it definitely works.
“There are a couple of lifts that we hadn’t done, like overhead squatting and front squatting. I hadn’t really done much of that, but it’s pretty much all of the same stuff.”
Sykes and new Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder are excited to see where he’ll fit in on the Irish’s defense.
“When Coach VanGorder came in, I didn’t really know whether or not they still expected me to play that Will linebacker position,” Sykes said. “I didn’t know what his vision was for me. When I asked him, he told me I look like I have the size for it, I look like I could play that Will position, but he’s never seen me play in person, so he doesn’t know what my strengths and weaknesses are.
“He doesn’t really like to tell guys where they will be before they actually get there because so many things could change. I could get stronger or faster or taller or whatever. He wants to wait until camp to see what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are so he can put me in the best position possible so I can use my strengths, that may not be the Will position.”
Sykes is fine playing whatever position VanGorder and Brian Kelly think is best.
“Honestly, wherever they see fit,” he said. “I’m willing to work at whatever position. I just want to be on the field. If they end up putting me at safety, so be it.”
Sykes’ main goal as a freshman is to prove himself to his coaches and teammates.
“I definitely don’t plan on taking any backseats to anybody. I’m going to go in there and work as hard as anybody else to try to earn my spot on the team. I’m not saying that I’m better than anybody else right now, I’m just saying that I’m going to work hard to earn my spot. Wherever that is, I plan on trying to do everything I can.”