View Full Version : '10 CO ATH Danny Spond (2/1/10 Notre Dame LOI)

07-27-2010, 11:23 AM
Columbine High School (Littleton, CO)

Links of Interest:
Rivals Profile (http://rivals.yahoo.com/notredame/football/recruiting/player-Danny-Spond-86338)

Height: 6 foot-3
Weight: 232 lbs.
Forty: 4.69 secs.
Bench Max:
Squat Max:


Danny Spond

07-27-2010, 11:23 AM
Danny's recruiting thread was another victim of the database purge so I am resurrecting a profile for him for the below listed free ISD story on him.

BTW, this is the first time I have seen the YouTube video on him. He will probably never take a snap at ND but Spond has a nice passing touch as a QB and shows some solid athleticism throughout the highlight.

07-27-2010, 11:26 AM

The Important Things In Life

Written by Christian McCollum
Tuesday, 27 July 2010 00:02

Don Spond never thought he would be able to get the ratty hat off of his son Danny’s head.

“We’d buy him the same identical hat, but he wouldn’t change,” Don said.

After years of trying, Don was finally able to get it off by supplying a duplicate and now, the worn-out Notre Dame lid sits idly on a mantle in the Spond household in Littleton, Colo. Danny began wearing Notre Dame gear as a two-year-old, started wrapping himself in an Irish blanket at five and his first password for his computer was ‘notredame.’

Nobody in the Spond family can pinpoint exactly when Danny’s affection for the Irish began, but it likely had something to do with Notre Dame’s presence on national television, a grandfather who had a great deal of respect for the Irish football program and countless screenings of “Rudy”.

Before becoming attached to that Notre Dame hat, Danny’s preferred headwear was a Riddell football helmet big enough to be spun completely around his head. The loose fit did not stop the five-year-old from turning snowmen into would-be ball carriers in the family’s backyard.

“We’d build three or four snowmen,” Danny remembers. “I’d drop back like a linebacker and safety and, ‘Boom!’ right into one and the next and the next.”

“His whole facemask would be completely filled with snow when he got up,” Don recalls. “He’d clean off the snow and do it again.”

The snowmen were all Danny got to tackle until he was old enough to play organized football at seven years old.

Few athletes have achieved the kind of youth success of Danny and his peers. Don coached the same group of kids in football, basketball and baseball. The bunch grabbed a couple of youth state titles in basketball, five baseball state championships and seven straight in football, when the team won 77 of 78 games. The one loss came in a game Danny missed because of an injury.

Danny stood out in every sport, but always knew which one held his future.

“Football was going to be his game from a very early age,” says Don. “He was just heads above all of the other kids. He wasn’t bigger than all of the other kids, but he was faster than them.”

In 2006, Danny entered a high school as well known as any in the country, but he believes it is for the wrong reasons.

Danny was a first-grader on April 20, 1999 and was first alerted that something was going on when he was not allowed to walk the hallways alone. School got out early that day, and when his parents picked him up, he found out about the shooting spree at Columbine High School.

Schools around town were closed for a week and there was nothing on TV except stories about the tragedy.

“It was pretty intense for a little while,” Danny remembers.

The town pulled together and the Columbine community was a close as ever when Danny arrived seven years later.

“Columbine is amazing, it’s the best place,” he says. “I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else. Columbine is one of the most amazing places on this Earth. I could not be happier to spend my years there.

“That’s something that will never be forgotten. I couldn’t be more proud to have been a Rebel and go to Columbine. It’s by far the best place in the world to me. They’ve become the victor over the victim in that situation.”

Danny went to church with his family every Sunday, but admits that, until high school, he was more into going out to lunch afterward than enjoying Mass.

“I started to pay attention in church and it started to hit home (in high school) when tough situations would come around,” he says. “I’ve taken that with me on the field and I always put God first in my life. I feel when you do that and you put others in front of you, good things will happen.”

Danny started a youth Bible study group for kids who didn’t think it was cool and, he became the spokesman for the area’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His position as spokesman gave him the opportunity to speak at youth groups, churches and business meetings.

“With God you can do anything and I’m a prime example of that,” he says. “I always try to be the best I can and show people that’s the way to go and with it, anything is possible.”

“Danny’s faith is first above anything else,” says Don.

Danny says his owes his faith to his father and his mother, Janet.

“They would always make sure we understood to respect people and put others before yourself,” he says. “They brought us up right. It’s impossible to put into words how grateful I am for them.”

As a freshman at Columbine, Danny started at linebacker on a state championship team and played varsity basketball and baseball his first two years of high school before giving those sports up to concentrate on football.

There would be no more state titles, but Danny helped Columbine reach the state playoffs as a quarterback, safety, linebacker and kicker over his final three years. Recruiting got serious after his junior season and, he still dreamed of playing at Notre Dame. The Irish recruited him, but they did not come through with a scholarship offer.

“Everybody has a dream, but if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be,” he remembers thinking at the time.

So in April of his junior year, Danny committed to his second favorite school, Colorado. As he watched the Buffaloes struggle through a 3-9 season in 2009, he began to wonder about Dan Hawkins’ status and his own future in the program. During a trip to the airport to pick up his sister over Thanksgiving, he told his father that he wanted to reopen his recruitment.

“I realized I have bigger dreams that I’ve worked hard for,” he says.

When word of his decommitment got out, Stanford and TCU quickly expressed interest before he got a phone call from Notre Dame assistant Tony Alford.

“I was just like, ‘Wow. This is why I’ve played football for so many years, just to get that phone call,’” he says.

Alford arranged a visit to Colorado and followed up with another call to offer a scholarship in mid-January.

“Tears came to my eyes,” Danny says. “I couldn’t believe it. Something I worked so hard for over the years was happening.”

Danny called his father to tell him the news.

“Boy, it brought a tear to both of our eyes,” remembers Don. “We couldn’t believe it.”

Don convinced his son to follow through on previously-scheduled visits to Stanford and TCU, but everyone knew what Danny’s decision would be, in fact, he had already made it. He verbally committed to Alford even before he made his trip to Notre Dame, but asked him to keep it quiet so he could do it in front of his parents and new head coach Brian Kelly.

Danny made his first-ever trip to South Bend on the last weekend of January.

“Even in January when it was four degrees out, it was everything I thought it would be,” he says. “The history and the people that were there and are there, it’s just an honor. When you walk in the stadium you remember the movie “Rudy” and Joe Montana and Lou Holtz. You’re just like, ‘Wow, this is crazy.’”

Knowing there was a good chance their son would make a decision, Don and Janet accompanied Danny on the trip.

“I was in awe,” recalls Don. “We went into the Basilica and our jaw about hit the ground. It’s just the most beautiful thing. I haven’t seen anything so beautiful. You picture your son or daughter going there and you know God has a hand in it.”

Still, Don and Janet were left up all night as they pondered their son’s decision without trying to put too much pressure on him. Finally, on Saturday morning, the Sponds met with Kelly and Danny let everyone in on his choice.

“It was a pretty special moment,” Don says. “The hair stands up on the back of your neck. You get goosebumps. My wife and I got teary, tears of joy. You always want the best for your kids. Going to Notre Dame, there’s no better place to have your kids go.”

Don, a plumber, and Janet, a sixth-grade teacher, have seen their dedication pay off in the form of a daughter, Jill, who is a licensed lawyer in three different states, another daughter, Julie, who is a molecular biologist and a son, who is set to start his freshman year at the University of Notre Dame in a matter of weeks.

“My parents are my hero and role models,” says Danny. “From day one, they’ve brought us up right in this house. I cannot thank them enough for everything they’ve given me. They’re the ultimate role models to me and I want to grow up to be the type of people that they are. I love them more than absolutely anything in this world. They made me who I am today.”

The feeling is mutual and a day does not go by when Don does remind his son he is his best friend.

“You always want your kids to look up to you, but when I look at Dan, I look up to him,” says Don. “Everything he does in his life. I tell him, ‘You know, Danny, you’ve got an aura about you. An aura is like a magnet and that magnet attracts people to you and you become the best leader to those people that want to be around you.’

“He has that and there’s few people I know that have that aura.”

http://i30.tinypic.com/2d91jki.jpg http://i32.tinypic.com/309565l.jpg


07-27-2010, 12:22 PM
Great article. Of the ND "late commitments" of the 2010 class, I'm probably excited about Spond the most.

08-12-2010, 02:19 AM


(SE's guy) Danny Spond interview

07-15-2011, 12:02 PM

Spond and Shembo: The year of the Dog (linebacker)

Spond gets this article because he's my pick

07-15-2011, 08:51 PM
Keith Arnold is probably one of the better ND writers out there right now. He knows the team, has access to the team, and knows football.

Great analysis. Thanks.

07-15-2011, 10:22 PM
Keith Arnold is probably one of the better ND writers out there right now. He knows the team, has access to the team, and knows football.

Great analysis. Thanks.

I agree, although his 'look back' at what our expectations were last year seemed funny.

09-13-2011, 11:07 AM
Hamspring Questionable for Sat

08-11-2012, 10:43 PM
Good news on Danny Spond who was thought to have suffered a concussion or worse. Diagnosis was no concussion and although he will not be immediately back on the field it is thought he will be able to return this year.

Purebred Irishman
08-12-2012, 04:28 AM

Linebacker Danny Spond did not suffer a concussion as initially feared Wednesday, and the 6-2, 248-pound junior does not have a head injury, Kelly said.

But Spond will be sidelined as the Irish medical staff try to figure what happened to him.

“We’ve exhausted a number of different tests, he’s come back clean on all of them,” Kelly said. “We’re going to do a little bit more work before we move any further with him relative to contact and getting him on the field.”

Spond was competing for one of the outside linebacker starting spots with Ben Councell. Kelly said freshmen Romeo Okwara and C.J. Prosise will back up Councell until Spond can play.

08-12-2012, 09:58 AM
Great news. He is needed for depth along with Councell.

Domer Dog
08-12-2012, 05:05 PM
Hope they find the answer. If its migraines, Spond will be playing again fairly soon, but its important to make sure they know be4 they put him out there.

08-14-2012, 12:34 PM
Migraine. BK told the guy doing the Sirius XM show there about 20 minutes ago. 3 hour show. Pretty cool. The show, not the injury. But the injury news is a good thing.

08-14-2012, 05:48 PM
Spond practiced w/ team today per Kelly on Bill King XM interview.

08-18-2012, 04:53 PM
Migraines are no joke. Percy Harvin comes to mind, in how the ebbs and flows can wreak havoc on someone's season. I hope it isn't indicative of recurring head trauma.

09-11-2012, 02:35 PM
Spond has been cleared and is available for this weekend against MSU

09-11-2012, 02:54 PM
Spond has been cleared and is available for this weekend against MSU

We can use that depth, good news.

09-11-2012, 07:06 PM
Anyone but fox over there, which means less Carlo. Tho he was meant for MSU.

Purebred Irishman
09-20-2012, 07:57 AM

Notre Dame’s Aug. 8 practice appeared to be just another day in the office for junior outside linebacker Danny Spond, especially once he started feeling headaches. That’s what happens, he thought, during the first week of practice while preparing for an arduous football season.

What was baffling was he hadn’t even really been hit but started feeling “a grating headache that got worse and worse.” Finally, he had to stop, ask the trainers for help, had to be assisted on to a cart … he had lost feeling on his left side of his body. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was immobilized for two days and unable to sleep.

Although the former high school quarterback/safety from Littleton, Colo., had suffered a concussion as a high school senior, Spond realized his situation was much more dire this time with the inability to move his left side. It left him “petrified.”

“I had every imaginable test done to me, and everything came back clear,” said Spond, while adding with a smirk, “I’ve learned that I’m a very healthy person.”

A stroke was thankfully ruled out, and so was a concussion. The final diagnosis was severe migraines, which surprised Spond and his family. Given how they had feared the worst, it was an immense relief.

“It’s something that caught me by surprise, so unexpected because I’ve never had headache problems before in my life,” Spond said. “It’s just another one of God’s challenges.”

After not being able to get out of bed for two days, Spond and his loved ones felt elation when he was able to move his left arm again and put one foot in front of the other, thereby being able to leave the hospital several days after he was admitted. One week after being removed from the practice field, he felt “100 percent” again, although the migraines persisted for a couple of weeks.

“I had to really monitor to it and cater to it,” Spond said “It was tough getting sleep for a couple of days with a lot of pain going on. I just had to battle through it and know there was a light at the end of the tunnel.”

He is now on prescribed medication which he takes if he can feel any of the migraine symptoms coming on.

“I might take a daily one just to make sure everything is under control,” Spond said. “I haven’t had any problems.”

It didn’t take long for him to have the itch to return to the football field.

“The only questions that I ever had when it all happened about returning to the game was, ‘Am I going to be safe enough to return?’ ’” Spond said. “That first concern was if my migraines were caused because of trauma or anything like that. They’re not. The love for the game that I have is what drove me. There are times when I would sit there and wonder, ‘Is it going to be the smartest to come back and play? I have to look out for my health.’ That was very short-lived. That love for the game and passion overrode that any day.”

Soon after his release from the hospital, Spond was taking incremental steps to make his return. During the week of preparation for the Navy opener, he began some light running work. During the preparation for Purdue, he put on the pads again and began very light contact work.

“By Michigan State week, when all the tests had come back good, they gave me the okay [to play],” said Spond of the medical staff.

“Mentally I was ready, no question about that,” Spond said. “I had been sitting in on every meeting, done everything I needed to do. That first week back of having to get physically ready and condition myself, that was probably the most challenging. I worked as hard as I possibly could each day, and that’s what helped me.”

Head coach Brian Kelly saw no signs of tentativeness in Spond during the week of practice for the Spartans.

“He pushed the envelope,” Kelly said. “He was the one who wanted to get out there. And so I think we had no hesitation of practicing him and playing him, because of the way he handled it. He wasn’t ‘Oh, I don’t know if I should play.’ It’s always been, ‘Once I’m cleared, I’m going to play.’ ”

Spond received the starting nod — the first in his career — against No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing and was part of a stellar defensive effort that held the Spartans to no touchdowns in a home game for the first time since 1991. He was credited with four tackles in the 20-3 victory while playing the extremely versatile drop or Dog position that requires the 6-2, 248-pound Spond to have the mobility and athletic skills to cover someone in the slot, and the physical skills to take on tight ends or even offensive tackles along the perimeter of the defense.

“I couldn’t imagine coming back to a more exciting game,” Spond said.

When asked how he graded out, Spond merely responded, “I have a lot to work on. I’ll never settle for anything and say that I’m happy where I’m at.”

In truth, though, given where he was at six weeks ago, Spond is ecstatic.

Purebred Irishman
11-01-2012, 05:30 AM

SOUTH BEND – Danny Spond will occasionally allow himself to look around the Notre Dame locker room and remember how far he has come in a short time.

It’s a rare indulgence for the junior linebacker who had to contemplate never playing football again after a medical scare in August, but one he has earned as the No. 4 Irish (8-0) prepare to play host to Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday.

“There have definitely been surreal moments where after games I will take a step back,” Spond said. “I really don’t like to allow myself to do that. … I’m not that type guy to give myself any more praise or anything.”

But Spond’s recovery from a rare form of a headache that left the left side of his body paralyzed has been remarkable.

The trouble began midway through an Irish practice on Aug. 8. Spond was trying to work through a headache that was getting progressively worse during a morning session, but when his vision started to blur and he felt numbness in his face, it was time to seek help.

He went to head football athletic trainer Rob Hunt, and after being looked over by the medical staff, Spond was taken directly to the hospital.

“(The trainers) just ran their prognosis tests or whatever they do, and our head trainer at the time determined let’s take him in,” Spond said. “It could have been a million things.”

It turned out to be a hemiplegic migraine, a rare headache that can cause stroke-like symptoms and paralysis, according to WebMD.com.

Spond’s attack left him without feeling in the left side of his body and kept him in the hospital for two days as he worried about the worst-case scenarios.

“I wanted to be able to move again. I wanted to be able to walk again,” Spond said.

“There were moments when I didn’t know if that was going to be a possibility or when that was going to come back, if it all. That was the scariest moment for me.”

After being released from the hospital, the Littleton, Colo., native and his father, Don, went to see Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, a neurologist at the University of Michigan.

Kutcher ran more tests on Spond and determined that the migraine wasn’t caused by football, and after a long heart-to-heart with his father, Spond decided he wanted to try and come back.

“Once I felt comfortable enough with that and knowing the love I have for this game, I wasn’t ready to give it up yet,” Spond said.

But his love for football would be tested by a grueling rehabilitation process.

Spond’s left side had become so weak he could barely hold anything in his left hand, and his left leg had digressed to the point where he had to relearn how to walk.

“That was something that I never would of in a million years imagined that somebody would have had to do,” Spond said. “That was kind of like a wakeup call to me, like we got to work.”

As Spond regained his strength, he also became more comfortable with what happened to him and no longer worried about a relapse every time he got a headache.

“I was scared, ‘Is this going to kick in again?’ ” Spond said. “Once I was comfortable enough to start working back into everything and realizing I wasn’t having any more headaches that kind of just ran away. I’ve felt good ever since then.”

The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder still takes a preventive medicine every night before he goes to bed, but with no more attacks, he has been in starting lineup ever since the Irish’s 20-3 victory Sept. 15 at Michigan State.

Spond has 27 tackles, one interception and two pass breakups this year for Notre Dame, which enters the weekend at No. 3 in the BCS standings.

And he is getting notoriety for his play as much as his comeback.

“I think it’s the classic case of somebody making you notice him. His play makes you notice him,” coach Brian Kelly said. “He’s played extremely well this year. … It’s nice to see that he’s made people notice him.”

12-07-2012, 09:08 PM

03-25-2013, 10:58 AM
Is Spond shifting inside?


03-25-2013, 01:51 PM
Is Spond shifting inside?


It's speculation and mainly depends on Jaylon Smith's development

08-17-2013, 12:03 PM

Observer Sports ‏@ObserverSports
BK: Danny Spond announced today to the team that he will no longer be playing football.
1:00 PM - 17 Aug 13

08-17-2013, 02:09 PM

Purebred Irishman
08-17-2013, 02:11 PM
Health is the most important thing for Danny now and with a degree he should still be successful in life.

08-17-2013, 02:13 PM
Ohhhhh.... just noticed the article up top on this thread. Yep, best of luck to him. Unfortunate circumstances, but no need to mess up the rest of your life.

08-17-2013, 04:38 PM
The most underrated football player of the last 10 years. Quietly becoming a stud. I am very saddened by the news

08-20-2013, 07:46 PM
ND’s Spond ended football career after “another paralyzing migraine”
Posted on August 20, 2013 by Rachel Terlep

Former Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond released a statement through the school addressing why he is no longer playing football on Tuesday, Aug. 20. The statement in full:
University of Notre Dame senior linebacker Danny Spond was forced to end his college football career. The Littleton, Colo., native has suffered from hemiplegic migraines over the past year. Spond will remain with the program and mentor the Fighting Irish drop linebackers this fall.

“Hemiplegic migraines are a rare form of headache that present with temporary stroke-like symptoms, such as weakness and slurred speech,” said Notre Dame head football team physician Dr. Jennifer Malcolm, D.O. “Danny has suffered from a series of these migraines, but with medication, rehabilitation and a positive attitude he should avoid any long-term consequences. As there are no fully reliable predictors of hemiplegic migraines and ultimate prevention is extremely challenging, we fully support Danny.”

“My football playing career is over after suffering another paralyzing migraine early in fall camp,” said Spond. “I’ve received the best medical treatment and guidance possible. Unfortunately, an exact cause of these migraines remains undetermined, and in order to assure my overall well-being, I’m forced to walk away from the game with an extremely heavy heart.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for me and my family, but by the Grace of God, we can find comfort in His greater plan. Being a man of God and an ambassador for his word, I have come to realize that in times of questioning His plan you have to let go and let God take over, and that is what I am doing. I’ve played this game my entire life, and losing it makes me feel as if I have lost something inside. But I find comfort in knowing my Lord will open the next chapter in my life and fill what’s been taken.

“I want to sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank each and every person who has supported me and my career at Notre Dame for their thoughts and prayers. You are the greatest people and fans in this world and make Notre Dame the most righteous University that I could ever represent; I love each and every one of you so very much. I promise to continue to give all I can to this University this year by coaching my position and providing senior leadership in all ways. You may no longer hear my name on the field, but I promise you, this is not the last you will hear of Danny Spond. With God, my family, and Notre Dame, I will persevere to do great things.”


08-20-2013, 10:13 PM
Woooo! Someone cutting onions up in here???

08-21-2013, 11:26 AM
The kid has his head on straight and is getting a degree from Notre Dame. He's going to be more than OK.

08-22-2013, 01:49 PM
That has to be one of the most mature statements I have ever heard come from a college age person- I am humbled by his spirit. God Bless you Mr. Spond in all of your future endeavors.

Purebred Irishman
09-26-2013, 06:08 AM

Paralysis on the left side of his body. Unrelenting fear. Endless questions with no answers. Migraine headaches severe enough to topple a fierce Notre Dame linebacker.

"I would have rather just had my head torn off than have it attached during those moments," admits Irish senior Danny Spond about his crippling migraine headache attacks. "I couldn't see. My whole left side of my body was completely numb. I can't open my eyes. My speech gets slurred. When I smile, only half of my face smiles. I lose control of my left arm. I lose control of my left leg. I wouldn't wish any of it on my worst enemy."

Just two months ago, the seemingly invincible 250-pound Irish linebacker came face-to-face with a decision that was universally obvious but still tougher than any he may ever make in his life. Migraine headaches had won the battle over Spond. Three life-changing episodes in the span of a year - not a time to be messing around.

Calling the next play was easy; accepting and executing it, less so. Spond had no choice but to forfeit his senior season and immediately retire from football, a cruel reality for one of the strongest leaders and best players on the Irish roster.

"It was obviously a tough decision and very heartfelt but it was best for me not to continue to play," says Spond, who made the decision about a week into training camp, only three weeks before his final season at Notre Dame was set to begin. "It's the deepest disappointment I have ever felt. This is not what I had planned, or anybody had planned."

But in Spond's own words, "I have come to realize that God doesn't give you anything you can't handle and this is just another way of him testing me. It's a way I may not understand for the next 30 years but it's something that I feel he believes I am strong enough to get through."

The official diagnosis is hemiplegic migraines, a rare and serious form of headache that often brings weakness or stroke-like symptoms to one side of the body, but can also trigger epileptic seizures and even coma in the most serious cases.

"Danny has suffered from a series of these migraines," says Dr. Jennifer Malcolm, D.O., Notre Dame head football team physician. "But with medication, rehabilitation, and positive attitude he should be able to avoid any long-term consequences."
Hemiplegic migraine headaches weren't even in Spond's vocabulary until August of 2012, when his first episode necessitated an immediate rush to the hospital.

"I had never had a migraine before. I didn't know what it was," explains Spond. "I was very scared, of course. I had a lot of words thrown at me that were very intimidating, that's for sure."

That first migraine attack kept Spond off the field for about four weeks and caused him to miss the first two games of last season while he worked to regain strength and movement. Down but never out, Spond returned to the team as the starting outside linebacker for the final 11 games of last season, finishing with 38 tackles, one interception ... and so much more.

"Just being able to come back and even play last season gave me a whole new perspective," Spond says. "I was able to enjoy the game more because you never know when it is going to be your last snap and that is definitely something I learned last fall. I am so grateful I was able to be part of that special season."

Spond was set in the spring to cement his place once more as the starting drop "dog" linebacker when another migraine episode - this one more intense than the first - rocked him yet again.

"I'm not sure which is worse, the pain or the fear when you're going through these migraines," Spond says. "The pain is unbearable, but the fear is just as bad of not understanding what is going on, and knowing what I will have to go through just to get back to normal functioning again, and then wondering if it is going to happen again."

Despite doctors and specialists keeping a close watch, Spond was set mentally and physically to handle training camp last month. A disciplined linebacker takes pride in hitting his mark, but the migraines delivered the hit that ultimately tackled the tackler.

"It took only about 15 minutes to spark my worst migraine to date, worse than anything I had ever had," Spond says. "It knocked me down for a good solid three weeks to a month."

Immediately back into the hospital.

After about a week, Spond carried a cane on the sideline during football practice to help keep his balance.

In a constant search for answers, Spond routinely traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to be evaluated by one of the top neurologists in the country, and routinely returned to South Bend with more questions in - and about - his head.

Reports from the doctors were unclear. The migraines were as unpredictable as Spond's football future, and a choice had to be made.

Spond first shared his retirement decision with head coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. He then announced the news to his fellow linebackers, then to the defense as a whole, and finally to the entire team in an assembly that Spond describes as the most emotional day of his life.

"I had tears in my eyes and a lot of guys came up to me with tears in their eyes as well," Spond says. "It just showed me how much support I have. It really was a testament to the university. That's why Notre Dame is the most special and honorable place to play football in the country."

Wanting to stay close to the game and teammates during his senior season, Spond remains an important presence on the sideline as a pseudo-coach to the guys who now hold down his position on Saturdays, junior Ben Councell and freshman Jaylon Smith.

With responsibilities that include pass coverage, edge protection against the run, and the occasional pass rush, the "dog" linebacker is the most complex position on the Notre Dame defense, and nobody understands it better than Danny Spond.

"I try to help teach them everything from general techniques and scheme to how to handle yourself when we travel," Spond says. "We just keep talking to each other. I wish I would have had somebody teach me the things that I can teach them. It's worked out so far. I've really embraced the role."

From star player to dedicated mentor, Danny Spond demonstrates the integrity and quality of a champion. It's all he knows. A Littleton, Colo., native and Columbine High School alum, Spond remembers the tragedy that struck his community when he was only a second-grader.

Littleton is a tight community, the type of place where nobody was left unscarred by the unthinkable loss of life.

"Growing up in Littleton and going to Columbine, there was no other place I would want to go and no other school where I would want to send my kids someday," Spond says. "It really shaped me for who I am today. I can attribute Columbine, and my experiences there, and the people that touched my life there to my faith and my family being so important to me."

Upon arriving at Notre Dame, Spond chose the No. 13 for his jersey, in reverent memorial of the 13 teachers and students who died in the 1999 shooting rampage at the high school. "I wanted to let people know those lives will never be forgotten, that's why I wore the No. 13," Spond says. "Those lives will live on for as long as I can carry their names because they were cut short. It is something I cherish and hold dear to me."

With or without a career in professional football, Danny Spond is going to excel in any path he chooses.

Set to graduate with a degree in political science, Spond wants only "to change the world for the better." Perhaps the title of Senator Spond might provide that opportunity someday?

"Now that has great ring to it. I would definitely pursue that career," Spond says. "If anything, I know how to deal with adversity better than most. I understand that everything happens for a reason, I just hope someday I'll understand what it is."

Purebred Irishman
11-01-2013, 05:39 AM