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Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Hinish Ready for his Role

August 19, 2019

Two years ago Kurt Hinish came into fall camp ready to compete. His body just wasn’t as ready as his mind.

He was a bit pudgy for his first college football practice. Definitely not in the same kind of shape he is today. Hinish went hard every rep, but by the end of the day he was off to the side looking for a garbage can to puke in.

Now into his third fall camp at Notre Dame, there’s not nearly as much excess on his 295 pound frame. He’s no longer that pudgy freshman. He’s a veteran now who has taken hold of the starting nose guard job.

Despite the difference with his body, Hinish’s approach hasn’t changed. He’d be competing his butt off no matter where he fit on the depth chart.

“It’s not any different,” Hinish admitted. “I don’t have any different outlook on the opportunity that has been given to me. I’m really just excited to go out and get better every single day. It doesn’t matter if I’m a one or a three, I’m just trying to go out there and get better.”

One thing that has changed is his role as a mentor to the younger players. When he arrived after high school, he had defensive tackles like Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner as examples to follow. He’s now one of the big brothers on the defensive line, which he says is like a family. And when one of the younger guys is struggling, he’s there to pick them up or motivate them.

“You kind of take on a different role when you see them feeling sorry or feeling down and you pick them up, but there’s an expectation that you have to do (your job) well too,” said Hinish. “You always have to step up and be a leader as an older guy.”

Two of those younger defensive tackles Hinish is referring to have shown impressive flashes in fall camp. Jacob Lacey and Howard Cross might not be the present as stars on the defensive line, but they look on track to be the future.

Hinish had very high praise for how advanced Lacey is with his technique and is just as impressed with his work ethic.

“He is incredible. He has great hands. He has good feet. He’s one of those guys who will always stay after with me and work extra stuff because he wants to get better.”

Cross turned some heads in practice on Saturday and he’s earned attention from the older guys on the D-line as well.

“He has a great get off. Probably one of the best get offs from our defensive line all-around. He penetrates the offensive line better than I’ve ever seen from any freshman.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Hinish was in the same position as Lacey and Cross, but he’s come a long way in only two years. He looks ready for his expanded role on the field this fall and is just as ready to set an example to help the guys who are going to follow him at defensive tackle.

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