Perseverance pays off for Spond with championship bid

Perseverance pays off for Spond with championship bid
December 30, 2012, 11:30 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Four months ago, Danny Spond was battling the worst pain he ever felt. The junior linebacker missed the end of fall camp and the start of Notre Dame's season while dealing with migraines so severe a rumor circulated that he had a stroke.

Now, Spond is just over a week away from starting for the Irish in the BCS Championship.

"If someone wouldve told me back in August that Id be starting for the National Championship game, I may have gave them a little smile," Spond said. "But I took it one day at a time, prepared how I needed to and all of us did that on this team. And its taken us to where we wanted to go."

Spond has been an under-the-radar key of Notre Dame's defensive success, playing the dog linebacker role in Bob Diaco's 3-4 alignment. He's been good enough in that role to stay on the field on third down, when a defensive back would generally sub in for nickel packages.

"Kid has been tremendous," coach Brian Kelly said earlier. "He's been an unsung player on our defense and we appreciate him. "

It's been a successful transition for Spond into Notre Dame's starting lineup after seeing sporadic playing time outside special teams his freshman and sophomore years. Spond said he's made it a point to be more physical in addition to improving his pass-defense abilities, and his season has been made more impressive given how it started -- in a hospital bed instead of the practice field.

"Its unbelievable," Spond said. "To think back just a couple of months ago to where I was, to where I am now, its amazing. Its such a blessing to have this opportunity to play in this game."