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November 11, 2015

Sheldon Day

South Bend, Indiana

Q. Sheldon, before the season, you guys kind of talked about how much leadership, how much leadership depth you guys had on this team. So mid-November right now, how has that kind of manifested itself specifically in practice going week to week?
SHELDON DAY: Making sure we stay on top of the little things, pay attention to the details like throughout practice. So just for example, yesterday we got excited a little bit, and we had to calm down because we're kind of getting too physical in practice and throwing people on the ground and making sure things weren't getting out of hand. So Joe kind of stepped up and said we need to calm down, and when we thug we need to wrap up and clean up things.

Q. So when you have so many leaders, is there less of a burden on you to be a leader in every single situation because you know, hey, in that spot Joe can step up or another spot Matthias can step up?
SHELDON DAY: Yeah, I'd definitely say we know our roles and when we need to step up. If something's getting out of hand, we know one of the many leaders we have will step up.

Q. I want to ask you, when you decided to come back to Notre Dame, just take us back to that process of going through it, talking about it with your family, talking about it with your friends, how can clear was your mind when you were able to make that decision?
SHELDON DAY: It was definitely foggy. You know, in the back of your head thinking you can probably make that, and the opportunity to play for a National Championship, and just being with those guys in the locker room. It's something many people regret. If you do leave early, like the locker room experience, there is nothing like it. So I don't think many people can give that up.

Q. Was that kind of one of the impetus' for you stepping up as even more of a leader this year, like, hey, I'm coming back and I want to be part of this locker room, but also a leader in this locker room?
SHELDON DAY: I would say so. Coming back had a lot to go into the way I made my decision, so I would say being a leader is one of them.

Q. Was there a moment when you kind of knew, hey, this defensive line group is really starting to come together? Was it spring practice, preseason, June, July, when was that?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man. I would definitely say summer I saw we had something special, and then the later weeks of camp just seeing how much we started to commit ourselves and see how serious we were about the learning of the game, and just seeing how much we were starting to dominate and seeing everything start to fall into place.

Q. What does it do for you when you know the rest of your defensive line teammates are kind of playing in tandem, and you guys have that cohesion?
SHELDON DAY: It's great. Coach Gilmore always says one line, one sound. It's kind of good to see things fall in place now.

Q. Sheldon, I wondered if you could talk about your mom a little bit and what this Senior Day will be like for her and what she's meant to you during your career here?
SHELDON DAY: She's been my biggest support system through the ups and downs. Just to see her being able to run out and give her a big old hug in front of 81,000, it's going to be a special moment for her. I know she's going to enjoy it, and remember it and tell her grandkids and everything like that. It's definitely going to be a special moment for her.

Q. And what's your career been like for her? Has she been able to come to all the games and just, I know some of your teammates have said she's a great cook and she makes great pasta, so obviously they've been to your house?
SHELDON DAY: Yeah, my mom's pretty much a team mom. She cooks for the team. She supports the team, and, man, she's pretty much made I want to say that every home game except for a couple because my dad wanted to come to a couple games and it was a boy's trip or something like that, so she's definitely been the biggest support system and tried to support me in every way possible.

Q. When you were going through your process of whether to come back or not, were you plugged into what Ronnie was doing or were you guys completely didn't talk at all during that time?
SHELDON DAY: We definitely shot some texts back and forth. He told me that his decision rode on my decision, and I said that's too much pressure for me. Don't do that to me. But we definitely texted back and forth to see where we were and try to do things like that because we said we want to train together.

Q. What feedback did you get from the NFL committee as far as round and did that make a difference to you?
SHELDON DAY: They said return to school. But they said this year they were kind of harsh on the juniors because so many came out last year, and some of them didn't get drafted and they didn't want that same situation to happen again.

Q. Do you ever think about during these days now where you're in the chase for a playoff what if you had taken the other fork in the rode and missed this?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man, me and Ronnie actually talked about that the other day. We were driving home, and he said it will be crazy because we wouldn't be able to experience something like this. And just the guys in the locker room and how much fun we're having this season, and just being around the guys, it's crazy that if we would have went the other way how things would have been much different.

Q. Did you ever think going on the process, when Everett left or when Malik went down at any point was there ever a question maybe the season won't go like I thought? Was there any concern like that?
SHELDON DAY: I wouldn't say that because I have confidence in what Coach Kelly does and his coaching staff. And he puts people in the best situations possible to make plays and do great things.

Q. Coach, when he talked to you about coming back, one of the things he mentioned was getting stronger would help you in the draft. How do you think it has helped you personally so you can maybe move up higher in the draft than if you hadn't come back?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man, Coach Longo's done a great job. You can see it in my play, and how my changed since last year and how physical I've become and just my mentality going forth. Coach VanGorder's done a great job with my mental state. Coach Longo's done a great job with my physical state. So I felt like I changed a lot from last year to this year.

Q. You said you and Ronnie were in contact in the whole process. Who decided first? Who is to say I'm the first one coming back?
SHELDON DAY: I think it was me, because I said more than likely I'm going to come back. He said, Are you serious? And I said, yeah. I think a couple days after that he text me and told me he was coming back. Then Coach Kelly announced it.

Q. I know every player, every person has to make a decision on their own. But there are a few players that have a decision to make after this year. What would you say just in general to anyone about the process?
SHELDON DAY: Pretty much put it in God's hands. Pray about it, and then trust in your family to help you make a decision, and know that this degree is a four-year decision.

Q. What was the excitement like or the reaction last night when you guys saw that you were in the top four?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man, it was chaos. It was right after practice. It was a grind session yesterday too. So just that little bit of energy that we had left, we exerted it out when we saw that we were in the top four. So, oh, man. It was crazy. Snapchat videos. Showtime was in there with us hanging out. So it was definitely a good time.

But we know that we've got a lot of work to do. Clean up everything from yesterday, and all eyes are on Wake Forest.

Q. How quickly was that transition to, okay, we're there, but now we've got to take care of business?
SHELDON DAY: Ten seconds of snap chat video. I'm telling you, man. I'm telling you.

Q. You mentioned what Saturday would be like for your mom. What do you feel like it's going to be like for you?
SHELDON DAY: Oh, man. I know if I see my mom cry it's going to make me cry. But I'm going to try to stay strong. There are a lot of emotions last time running out of that tunnel in front of 80,000-plus. It's going to be a great time and a great experience. Just kind of overwhelming a little bit, and just to know that I've done a lot of good things in my career here, and I'm just happy that I can have a senior night.

Q. How do you hope for yourself and for this senior class is kind of remembered in the future?
SHELDON DAY: Man, hopefully we're the class that everybody remembers that puts Notre Dame back on top. Kind of that class where oh, Notre Dame was irrelevant a couple years ago, but now they're relevant once again. That's all we wanted to do.

Coming in as freshmen, that's all we could talk about, a National Championship, National Championship. We didn't know how much it took to get there, but we're kind of learning a little bit about it right now. So it's definitely a blessing to kind of go through this experience.

Q. How difficult with all the talk about Senior Day, obviously this is a big day for you?

Q. How difficult is it to hone in on Wake Forest and kind of avoid the noise of the national talk but also like the senior day talk?
SHELDON DAY: I would definitely say it's kind of hard. You just try to figure out tickets and all of that stuff, and family is calling you asking when they want to come to a game. But I would say Thursday is kind of the day where you cut all that off and you just fully focused on getting a win against Wake Forest. We're definitely trying to still figure things out with tickets and all of that. But our eyes are pretty much all on Wake Forest.

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