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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 20, 2008
BRIAN HARDIN: We'll get started with Maurice Crum, Jr. and David Bruton.
Q. Mo, I think last year when you went to the last home game, you weren't sure you were coming back. You know what it was like going through it once. What was it like that time and do you think it will be the same this time?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: That time it was different because I was still relatively unsure what was going to go on. So I was trying to enjoy it as much as possible, like it was my last moment. But it was hard to fully enjoy because I didn't know if, you know, I was going to come back or not.
But I think this time it will be a little different because I know that this is it for me. I'm closing the book on Maurice Crum. So I think it will be a little more emotional this time around.
Q. Coach was saying as coach he doesn't know how people are going to react, different people react in different ways, the underclassmen have to help them get through it. Can you talk about how you will feel on Saturday?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think being a young guy myself before, you always want to try to send your older guys out right because there's going to come a time when you're going to be in those shoes and you're going to want the same thing.
I think to each his own for every guy about, you know, how they handle the situation. But one thing that is sure, everyone is emotional.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, you know, like Mo was just saying, we both were in those shoes where we were the underclassmen playing for the seniors their last game, trying to send them out right. It's kind of a respect thing. And we have respect amongst teammates. Everybody respects each other. There's no doubt in my mind that everybody will play their hardest to send us out the right way.
When it comes to how I'm going to feel after the game, it's just going to hit me. It's going to be my last time playing in that stadium, for sure. It's something that I didn't think would come so quickly, especially these past few years have flown by, and now it's to my last home game.
My mom is telling me she's going to cry. My dad is saying he's going to cry. We'll just see how I'll react after the game, whether I'm smiling or tears are in my eye.
Q. Mo, coach was also saying you don't know about Syracuse with the coaching situation. You were part of the team that played with a lame duck coaching staff. How hard is it to play in a situation like that?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think it's kind of tough just because, I mean, the guys can go one of two ways. They can either say, you know, we still got games left to play and we're going to do this right, or they can not take it seriously.
I think it's really up to the leaders of the team to what direction the team goes in. If the leaders are up front saying it doesn't matter what the situation is, we still have games to play, then that's the team that's gonna come out fighting and swinging regardless of the situation.
Q. Do you look at where you might go regarding Bowl prospects? How important is it to win another game so you not only guarantee a winning season, but maybe get to a little better level of Bowl game?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I mean, yeah, obviously the more wins probably the better the Bowl. I mean, we can't really worry about that until we take care of the last two games of the season. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, I'm not really worried about it. We know we still got games to play and games to win. You know, that will bode well for us in achieving a better Bowl.
Q. David, you were in a class without any four star or five star guys according to the services. The class itself was ranked low. You have a lot of starters, contributors in your class. I asked coach on Tuesday who was the biggest surprise. He said you were. I wondered if that statement surprised you? Did you surprise yourself in the player you turned out to be? How do you look at that?
DAVID BRUTON: I have surprised myself, becoming a disciplined type of guy, you know, maturing in such a way that I have. My situation hasn't been the easiest. Especially when it comes to football, just being able to understand the game, realize that it's not just purely about physical talent, but how game-ready you are, how game-smart you are. It bodes well for how you play on the field and how good of a player you can become.
Q. He talked to you about being a skinny track guy. Talk about the physical transformation out of being a skinny track guy. Also I think your family, your little boy, is a big inspiration for you.
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, he's a major inspiration. I was mentioning how I have his name tattooed on my right shoulder. I always tap it before the game. His pictures are in my car, on my locker, in my wallet. He's everywhere. He's always with me. Even if I didn't have those things, he'll always be in my heart.
But the physical thing, I came in like 175. By the end of the summer, I was like 218, 219. Now I'm like 210. So I've put on 40 plus pounds since I've been here. I look back at pictures, my senior year in high school and right now, and I'm like, How the heck did I end up playing football? I should have definitely stuck with track. There was no way I thought I would be able to play football and gain weight.
But things happen. It's funny to look back on that.
Q. How would you like your class to be remembered at Notre Dame?
DAVID BRUTON: You know, I don't want our class to be known as the forgotten class. I feel like we've left our mark in a way, improving, taking the leadership role from last year, 3-9 record, to this year a potential winning record, just get Notre Dame on the right track and headed in the right way, along with Mo's class.
Q. Is your son going to be at the game?
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, he'll be up here tomorrow at the pep rally, as well. I'll have him. I told my parents to make sure he's got a lot of blankets, a big old jacket so he doesn't come down with pneumonia.
Q. David, looking back at the way your class was assembled, it could have fallen apart, guys going their different ways. What do you remember getting to know those guys in the class?
DAVID BRUTON: You know, after Coach Willingham was fired, I grew fairly close with Kevin Washington. We were in the same boat. We were teeter-tottering between Wisconsin and here. We've talked a lot. We both ended up choosing this place, which is a big reason why I'm here. I've talked to him. I felt like I made a pretty good friend.
I've known Kuntz throughout the whole recruiting process. I could see him everywhere I could possibly imagine going. He was always there.
The guys that I got to know, guys that I got to be around during the recruiting process, you know, I just understood what type of guys they were. They understood what type of guy I was, what type of university this is. That's why we chose here.
Q. Do you think at all the adversity you guys went through before you even showed up on campus naturally brought you guys closer together?
DAVID BRUTON: I believe so 'cause after the signing day was over with, we all got in touch with each other. We all talked. We all hung out throughout our freshman summer. We built that bond within our class. We were not really that much separate. At this point now, we still go out, we still kick it. Whatever we used to do as freshmen, we still do now.
Q. What are you going to remember most? What is going to be the enduring memory of Notre Dame when you think back to your time here 15, 20 years down the road?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: For me it will probably be the first time I was voted as team captain. That's one of my fondest memories here just because, you know, the teammates vote you in that position. I mean, that kind of made me realize that this is how my teammates see me.
DAVID BRUTON: I believe I have three: the first time I got to play versus Pitt my freshman year, my first chance starting, and like Mo just said, being voted as a captain.
Q. Coming out of last week a lot of guys were talking about a win is a win, doesn't matter by 3 or 30, whatever. At some point, to get this program to where it needs to go, do you need to look at it as a win is not a win, but we need to go out there and impress people, win by 20 points or more?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I mean, that kind of goes without being said. But the ultimate goal for us is to win. We know that, like, being Notre Dame, we're gonna get like everyone's best shot till the last second rolls off the clock. Teams always mark us on the schedule. Teams always gear up and they're always a little more excited to play against us. It's always a little more difficult just because that's how guys view us.
You know, guys may be looking three games down the road trying to worry about Notre Dame. So once that game comes, naturally we always get everyone's best shot.
Q. Do you see that as a place this program can go: instead of holding on, you go out there to get up on a team and put them away?
DAVID BRUTON: Yeah, this program, we're capable of doing it. Make sure these guys will probably do it a lot. We've got a lot of talent on this team. We shouldn't shoot for anything less.
But at the end of the day, a win is a win, whether it's by 1 or whether it's by 30. But when it comes to like Bowls or, you know, being noticed, of course you want the style points, so...
Q. How did you learn you'd been named captains? Did coach announce it in front of the team?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yes, that's pretty much how coach did it. We come in, they basically hand out slips of paper. They just kind of write a name down. Coach and I guess the staff tallies it up, then they tell us in the next couple days. They just announce it in like a team meeting.
Q. Mo, were you expecting to be named captain? Did you think you had a good chance?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: No, the first time I didn't really like think so 'cause, again, it kind of opened my eyes to how my teammates saw me. I saw myself as a leader, a guy up front. But, you know, a captain is different.
DAVID BRUTON: I just seen myself with a potential chance to become a captain. I just kept doing what I do. I wasn't really worried about getting guys on my bandwagon or anything like that. I just went out there each day and just do me, do what I do, gain respect of my teammates. You know, here I am voted a captain of the 2008 season.
Q. How do you expect Syracuse to react this weekend with their coach being fired? I believe you had a similar situation two years ago with North Carolina.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think so, yeah.
Q. I'm asking you, what do you expect from a team? I guess they have nothing to lose, including their coach.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I mean, the one thing you can expect is that they're extremely dangerous. And teams, you know, in that kind of position, if you let them hang around, again, those teams can be dangerous.
I mean, I think for them nothing else will make their season versus beating Notre Dame. I think that would almost validate their whole season, everything that's going on.
So, again, those guys, I think they'll be ready to go and extremely dangerous.
DAVID BRUTON: Just concurring with what Mo said, we just got to be ready. They can be dangerous if we let them hang around. They've got talent throughout their team. You know, they're all on scholarships, too. On any given day, anybody can get beat. We just have to be prepared, be ready, give them our best shot, as they will us.
Q. Of course, you have to prepare for their best shot, but do you also think it's possible you're going to get their worst shot under the circumstances?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, I mean, going into the game, all we can do is, you know, prepare for what it is that we've actually seen on tape, I guess the things that show up every game week in and week out. Again, it's kind of expecting the unexpected.
Again, anything can happen, and any situation can present itself. We just got to be able to see and adjust and, between David and myself, make sure we get everyone aligned and rely on our fundamentals.
Q. Mo, can you talk about Brinkley.
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: He's a pretty good back. Really good size. He gets downhill. I've watched him break a lot of tackles. I've seen him show some bursts to get to the corner.
I think he's an every-down block. I've seen him block and I've seen him catch. I think he's a pretty good back.
Q. You've played some pretty good backs this year. How would he rank in there?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: I think he's up there. I don't think he's as versatile as far as like jump cutting as Ringer. But I think he's just as good at getting downhill and finding the holes. He has really good vision.
Q. David, I'm doing a feature on Mike Anello. Every time we say that to every player, there's a smile. Why?
DAVID BRUTON: He deserves it. He's put himself in a position where he's making plays against some of the best athletes in the country. He's not somebody you should call Rudy. He's beyond that. He's always coming out to work. He's prepared. Film study, he's ready to go in the corner start if we need him. He's just ready to do whatever the coaches need him to do.
Q. When you first saw him, where you like, How could this possibly be?
DAVID BRUTON: When I first saw him, I knew he was in shape. Never seemed to get tired when we were doing spring conditioning. But just watching him throughout practices, just how attentive he was in meetings, you knew he could be something special. He had that work ethic that continued to put him in a place to make plays.
Q. Who is the better guy?
DAVID BRUTON: Tough. I'll give it to him. He's made more plays this year at gunner. I'd give it to him.
Q. What do you think, Mo?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Yeah, I'll pick Anello. I think he's a little harder to get his hands on. Bruton is a little bigger, so guys can probably get more hands on him (laughter). But obviously Anello is smaller and faster.
DAVID BRUTON: No, no, not faster. Smaller, but not faster (laughter).
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Absolutely. I don't think it could happen to a better guy. For me, any time he does anything, it just energizes me. He brings so much energy because he plays the game with such a passion. Again, I like to see all his hard work pay off. That's what makes it more special.
Q. Mo, you were kind of chuckling when David was talking about his transformation. How have you seen him grow?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: Again, the biggest transformation is his body, just the way he's come in. When he first came in, he could run all day. But, you know, seeing him trying to run in the box, trying to make tackles and stuff was rough at first.
But now looking at him come up, make some really big tackles, stick his nose in there, he's made a complete transformation. He's one of the guys that I've watched grow up and I'm extremely proud of.
Q. When did you first think he would be able to develop into the player he has?
MAURICE CRUM, JR.: When we first got him, I remember pulling him aside and telling him, I think you can play and I think you're going to be a really good player. I actually told Bruton, I was like, Make sure you get in your book and just be sharp because I think you can help this team. I'm not as surprised as coach is.
Q. David, how has Mo helped you?
DAVID BRUTON: A lot. Through it at all, even when I'm down about things outside of football that are affecting my play, he's always pulled me inside, always told me to collect myself, keep my head on straight.
He's also been one who's pushed me to study film and keep my nose in the playbook, be mentally sharp. Just in case he can't make a call, that I'm able to make a call. If it's not him, it's me. If it's not me, it's him. He's kind of helped me develop that mentality that I've got his back and he's got mine.
BRIAN HARDIN: Thank you very much.
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