Ryan Willis Taking Over
Ryan Willis’ birthday was last Friday and he also started and a game for the first time since 2016. Willis said that he had lost some of his love for the game at Kansas. He said being on a losing team means you are consistently being criticized and everyone thinks that you are not trying or working hard. But Ryan says that growing up in a competitive household has helped prepared him for this moment. Willis comes from a very athletic family. His Father Steve played football at Kansas State. His Mother Lois competed in track and field at Iowa State, his sister Lauren played basketball at Oklahoma and his other sister Abby played basketball at Saint Louis University. Here’s an example of the athleticism in action, Mom Lois competing at Iowa State:

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Damon Hazelton and Ryan Willis Connection
Ryan Willis and Damon Hazelton are roommates and best friends. They came in as transfers together and all last season they ran the scout team offense together. They went back to Ryan’s home in Kansas City before the summer session began. “I threw it to him every time and that’s when we had a ton of NFL talent on the defense”. Willis is referencing S Terrell Edmunds (1stround Steelers Draft Pick). CB Greg Stroman (7thround Redskins draft pick) and DT Adonis Alexander. Willis says Hazelton is a security blanket but that he is also like a brother that he loves seeing have success. 

 

Ian Book Taking Over
I spoke to Miles Boykin about the transition from Wimbush to Book at quarterback and he said that it has been very smooth. Boykin reiterated that everyone loves Brandon Wimbush and that he has always been a great teammate. The senior wide receiver describes his new starting quarterback as extremely poised and a guy who only yells when making a check at the line of scrimmage (and that he always makes the right decision). Boykin also says that he feels like the game has slowed down for the team with Book under center. Ian says that he has been “preparing his whole life for it” and wants to bring his style of ball to the team. Book recognizes his growth as a football player. He points to the fact that he gets the ball out earlier, he is not taking as many sacks, he knows when to run out of bounds, and situational awareness as areas where he has seen the most improvement. 

 

Houshun Gaines losses His Mom
Houshun Gaines wrote his mothers initials under his eyes last week because Tardra Hilliard was in the hospital dealing with health issues. She passed away on Monday. Gaines returned to North Carolina to be with family and returned to practice on Wednesday. The coaching staff told Gaines that he could do whatever he wants to do and Houshun said he wants to play with his team. Notre Dame fans showed support for Gaines by lighting a candle for his mother at the grotto this week.

Gaines responded to the gesture on Twitter:

Miles Boykin Productive Senior Year
Miles Boykin already has more receptions this season than 2016 and 2017 combined. Boykin said that he always knew that he could perform at an elite level so he has always worked on not losing any confidence in his game. Before winning MVP honors in the Citrus Bowl last season he says he remembers Brian Kelly telling him that it was going to be his game and his moment and he took that to heart and never looked back. Boykin focused on route discipline, understanding defenses, and mastering all of the offenses concepts. He wants to see what quarterbacks see when they are watching film. Boykin says he can see the offseason work and extra film study paying off this season. 

Jerry Tillery World Traveler
Jerry Tillery traveled a long way from Shreveport, Louisiana to South Bend, Indiana but he has been racking up miles ever since. Tillery’s freshman year at ND he applied to study abroad in South Africa where he studied institutionalized racism. It turns out being accepted into the program would change his life. He says that ever since that summer he has had the travel bug. Jerry has been to 17 countries. South Africa and Japan are two of his favorites. South Africa because it started his love affair with traveling and Japan because he actually understands Japanese. He has studied Japanese history, culture, and language at Notre Dame and that has grown his love for the Asian country. And traveling is only the tip of a fascinating iceberg of interests for the senior D-Lineman. He is an economics major that has interned at an Irish hedge fund in Dublin. And his Twitter Bio reads “Solo se vive una vez” which means “you only live once”. 

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