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Ever-changing hair speaks volumes about Notre Dame lineman

Thursday, October 9, 2008


AP Sports Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Notre Dame defensive lineman Pat Kuntz's eclectic hairstyles tell a lot about his personality.

He started the season with a haircut that looked like a buzz cut on the front and sides, and sort of a '60s style women's flip hairstyle in the back -- overall, kind of a mullet gone wrong. Then for the Michigan game he went more drastic, with the sides and part of the top and back of his head shaved and a long strip of hair in the back, which he said was in honor of Magua from "The Last of the Mohicans."

By the middle of the following week he had shaved his head completely, saying he was tired of scaring people. That didn't stop one reporter, though, from asking Kuntz what kind of hairstyle he planned for the following week.

Kuntz, who now has a Mohawk, explains the changes simply.

"I might as well enjoy my hair while I've got it," he said.

Kuntz enjoys just about everything he does, and lets everyone know it, too.

Whether it's at a game, at practice or talking to reporters, Kuntz always has something to say. He's a player who can have a coach screaming at him one minute, then have the coach rolling in laughter a short time later.

"I've had my share of hardship with old Patrick, but it's tough not to like this kid," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "This is like one of those guys that if I were in college here at this point I could see this would be probably one of my boys. I could picture that. I would probably be abusing him all the time. But it's tough not to like being around the kid."

The 6-foot-3, 283-pound Kuntz agrees he and Weis share some traits such as toughness and a nasty side. Still, Kuntz, who is from Indianapolis, isn't convinced they'd be best buddies.

"I don't know, he might not be able to handle my Midwestern ways," Kuntz said. "He wouldn't fit in, no offense to him. East Coast and Midwest, it's a big difference. I'd be playing Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynrd and he'd be playing Bon Jovi."

Against Stanford last week, Kuntz spent much of the game going against Cardinal tackle Chris Marinelli, who inspired the Irish before the game by saying he hated Notre Dame. Kuntz had his first career interception, broke up another pass, made his first two sacks of the season and recovered a fumble.

Kuntz, though, said it wasn't his best game.

"In fourth grade I had seven sacks in the city championship. That was probably my best game ever," he said. "I was probably the No. 1 recruit in the country when I was in fourth grade."

Asked to talk about Kuntz's performance, defensive coordinator Corwin Brown said: "I would, but then I'd never hear the end of it from him."

The effort was nothing new for Kuntz. He helps set the tone for the emotional Irish defense, linebacker Brian Smith said.

"He's a funny guy always, but at the same time he's really serious about it. He comes off as a jokester, but he's real passionate about what he does," Smith said. "Kuntz is always one of those guys firing up the troops."

Kuntz is officially listed on the Irish depth chart as a defensive end, but primarily plays defensive tackle. It's a slight change from last year when he played nose tackle. Kuntz said playing defensive tackle gives him a little more time to react, but the positions are similar.

What makes Kuntz good is he is disruptive, Weis said. He's been more productive than his 14 tackles indicate.

Kuntz, who missed spring practice for personal reasons, just wants to be known a good football player who makes people smile.

"Just a fun guy to watch," he said, "but a tough guy to go against."

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