For Carlisle, Notre Dame-Purdue a family affair

For Carlisle, Notre Dame-Purdue a family affair
September 12, 2013, 9:15 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Growing up, Notre Dame running back Amir Carlisle was able to pick the brains of some of the NFL's best running backs, including Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook and Frank Gore.

He has his father, Duane, to thank for that. But when Amir Carlisle takes the field on Saturday in West Lafayette, he'll be doing so opposite his dad.

Duane Carlisle has been the director of sports performance for Purdue athletics and strength coach for Purdue football since February 2011, and his move to West Lafayette influenced Carlisle's decision to transfer from USC to Notre Dame.

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Before heading to Purdue, Duane Carlisle worked as a strength and conditioning coach with the San Francisco 49ers from 2005-2011. He also worked as a speed coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2000-2004 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997-1998.

Amir Carlisle keeps in the closest contact with Gore, who's rushed for 8,883 yards and 52 touchdowns in nine years with San Francisco. He hopes to see the 49ers running back when Notre Dame heads to Stanford in late November.

"He taught me to have low pad level in the hole, and if the defender shows himself in the hole pick a side of him and attack that side of him," Amir Carlisle explained. "That's the teaching I really embraced and took with me throughout my football career."

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It's a lesson that's been on display through two games this year, as Amir Carlisle has shown a willingness to go straight at defenders with the kind of toughness off which Gore has made a living.

"He ran over a linebacker who was unblocked one time," coach Brian Kelly recalled from the Michigan game. "His running after contact was probably the thing that I liked the most."

While no Notre Dame running back has had more carries through two games than Amir Carlisle (13; George Atkinson and Cam McDaniel have 13), Kelly said on Tuesday he's not close to tabbing him as the offense's feature back.

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No matter where Amir Carlisle is slotted on the depth chart, he's put himself in a position to make an impact. He talks to his dad every day, even this week as both Carlisles prepare for Saturday.

But there's an irony here: If Amir Carlisle helps lead Notre Dame past Purdue, his father will have a hand in it, to some extent — even if it means he's on the losing side.