Nothing motivates an athlete more so than sitting on the bench. Take away an athlete’s playing time and it is sometimes amazing how much he/she can immediately improve their performance.
Or in the case of Notre Dame second-year running back Amir Carlisle, get healed.
“He’s doing really well,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said recently. “He’s anxious to get back in there.”
Carlisle is sitting out his second consecutive spring session after suffering a broken collarbone on March 26 during a drill. Stop reading (out of frustration) if you’ve heard this scenario before regarding Carlisle.
After transferring from USC in January 2012, Carlisle injured an ankle and missed last spring. He was slow to heal, as well as Kelly didn’t really need him with veteran runners in Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, and sat out last season. In the past 25 games that Carlisle’s been eligible to play in, he’s missed 17 of them due to any number of the four different injuries that he’s suffered.
“I think the (injury) questions are fair,” Kelly said. “Where I concern myself more, relative to injuries, is how you handle them.”
Carlisle is handling this latest setback well, if for no other reason than he has no choice. Kelly has already mentioned junior George Atkinson III is going to be heavily relied upon at the running back position, and he also signed incoming freshmen Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston in February. Throw in returning players Cam McDaniel and Will Mahone and there aren’t going to be a lot of touches remaining for a guy that can’t stay on the field.
“Amir has bounced right back in there,” Kelly said. “Mentally, he’s strong. He’s a guy that is not going to be afraid to go right back in there and play.”
Carlisle got back onto the field during practice sessions on Saturday in non-contact situations and has begun catching balls off of the Jugs machine. Kelly also noticed that he is staying very active in the practice from a mental standpoint.
“He’ll still miss spring ball,” Kelly explained. “But he’s involved in everything. He’s doing everything but contact. Other than missing contact and scrimmage, this won’t be a step back for him.”
Carlisle performed well with the Trojans in his first season out of high school and Kelly still believes in his potential to make plays, not just at running back, but as a slot receiver as well.
“If it is unfortunate and he gets another injury,” Kelly explained, “it is what it is. But I’ve always felt like mentally, is he ready to go back in there? He was ready about five, six days after surgery. We won’t think much about (the injury) other than Amir wants to get back in there and go.”