Tuesday, August 23, 2005

#11 - Big Things from Big Mo

Continuing the countdown of 12 Keys to the Irish Season...

11 - Big Things from Big Mo

No, not MO-mentum, although a little of that always helps.

In this case, we're talking about the Irish's Big Mo, Maurice Stovall, a super-talented wideout who came to Notre Dame three years ago as one of the headliners of Ty Willingham's first recruiting class. Suffice to say, he has not always lived up to the grand expectations his signing produced, and maybe the whole "next Randy Moss" tag was unfair in the first place.

But nobody has been a bigger critic of his inconsistent play than Stovall himself. He's as mystified as every Irish fan at how he can put up a 10-catch, 171-yard game against Purdue in 2003 yet finish with just 22 catches for the whole season. And unlike chatterbox & fellow wideout Rhema McKnight, Stovall carries himself with a very quiet persona. That might be giving off the appearance that he's satisfied. Far from it.

For his senior campaign, Stovall dropped weight and trained hard to improve his durability, seeking to avoid the nagging leg problems which kept him out of action for three games and limited his effectiveness in numerous others. How well he can take advantage of his size and speed - runs the 200 Meters in 23 seconds - could well determine the fate of the Irish recieving corps. Much like the Patriots' system, Coach Weis expects every player he might send onto the field, from Stovall & McKnight to little-used Chase Anastasio to walk-on Rob Woods, to be a threat.

One guy who's already impressed with the leaner, meaner Stovall is the one who stands to benefit the most: Irish QB Brady Quinn. "You see him still blowing by people or coming out of his cuts, even late in practice when we're in team periods or individual drills that just kind of wear you down," Quinn said. "He's still pumping and still going."

Stovall could finally see his potential born out in his final year, and if that produces results anything close to the 2002 season of Arnaz Battle, every Irish fan will be smiling.

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