Notre Dame defensive end Chase Hounshell has spent the last two years sidelined with shoulder issues, but feels completely healthy this spring. And that's good news for a Notre Dame defensive line in need of all the depth it can get.
"It's go time now," Hounshell said.
The 6-foot-4, 271-pound Hounshell has undergone two shoulder surgeries since 2011's Champs Sports Bowl, which seems like ages ago for an Irish team that went to the 2013 BCS Championship. He returned from his first shoulder injury last spring and quickly suffered an injury that required the second surgery, keeping him out for all of last season.
But Hounshell said he doesn't feel like there's a mental block after those injuries -- they're not in the back of his mind as practices with the Irish this spring.
"I don't know if it's necessarily getting over, but it's getting used to," Hounshell said. "I think I have the mental part pretty much down, I've been taking two years of mental reps. So now it's really the physical part: My stance, my first step, my get off, block recognition, things like that. And that just comes with time."
Taking a glass-half-full approach, Hounshell thinks taking those mental reps will provide a boost to his game now that he's healthy. He's studied what makes a successful defensive lineman, and has done plenty of research watching offensive linemen on film. Now, Hounshell feels like he can finally put that knowledge bank to use on the field.
"I think I have the mental part down," Hounshell said. "I have all the plays down. I think I'm a smart kid as it comes to football. But now it's just time to get the physical aspect down."