Notre Dame football: Johnson still possible for Air Force
But at least Thursday he did it without the protective boot he’s been wearing for the better part of five days on his right foot. And Irish head coach Brian Kelly still hasn’t ruled his starting defensive end out of Saturday’s game against Air Force (3-1).
“I think it’s going to be game time,” Kelly said of when the final decision would be made. “We’re going to see how he moves.”
Johnson suffered a sprained ankle during ND’s first defensive series Saturday night in a 38-10 waxing of Purdue. Vaunted freshman Aaron Lynch relieved him and finished with three tackles, including a sack.’
If Johnson does play against the Falcons, he’ll play an interior defensive line role, Kelly said.
“We’ll see how he goes through warm-ups,” said Kelly, whose Irish (3-2) are 15-point favorites. “(Johnson’s condition is) encouraging, but I’m not ready to put my stamp on it right now.”
Whether Johnson plays or not, Kelly plans to use waves of personnel on the defensive line, including freshmen Lynch and Stephon Tuitt.
Not a day passes when Chris Badger doesn’t think about what it will be like to wear a Notre Dame uniform again.
And that thought process starts at roughly 5 a.m., every day, at 6,000 feet above sea level in Cuenca, Ecuador.
Badger got to wear an ND practice jersey in the spring of 2010, when the safety from Provo, Utah, was an early-enrolling freshman.
At the time, his roommate was a spindly 17-year-old quarterback named Tommy Rees, seemingly hopelessly relegated to third string until classmates Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa were expected to knock him down to fifth when they arrived that June.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Badger hasn’t had the chance to watch Rees’ evolution into a starter - not even from a distance. He left for a two-year Mormon Mission in the summer of 2010, and the rules of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prohibit him from ever watching TV during that time,
He’s also banned from listening to music or calling home - but nothing prevents him from getting ready to come back to ND in June of 2012 as a 20-year-old freshman with four years of eligibility to burn.
Badger’s father, Dr. Rodney Badger, confirmed Thursday his son’s desire to return to ND and the school’s mutual desire to accept him back. Mormon missionaries are technically free agents and can transfer without penalty if they so choose.
But then just about anyone who is up at 5 a.m. in Cuenca Ecuador could have attested to Badger’s passion for being part of the Irish football team again.
Badger’s older brother, Troy, said Chris does speed training, strength training, cone drills and backpedal work every day between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.
“Most of the streets he does that on are uneven or dirt roads,” Troy said. “So he’s more careful with that. He lives around a lot of dirt hills, so he gets hill work in as well.”
Chris Badger was allowed to pack two bags for the two years, per missionary rules, and filled one of them with exercise equipment, so sometimes he has to improvise when it comes to the workouts.