Shembo sure to keep it simple

BOB WIENEKE
South Bend Tribune

With Atlanta Falcons training camp opening Tuesday, rookie Prince Shembo faces a number of challenges.

He’s making the jump from Notre Dame to the NFL. According to the team’s website, Shembo could play at inside or outside linebacker, as well as defensive end. He spent a lot of time during minicamp inside, a change from ND when he was an outside guy.

Shembo’s approach?

“Football is a simple game,” he said Monday. “Really to get paid to do something like this — I don’t even think about getting paid because I’m just having fun. I’ve been playing since I was little and not much really changes. See ball. you get ball. It’s simple.”

The 6-foot-2, 254-pound Shembo faces a learning curve, but his play in minicamp after being selected in the fourth round (139th overall) earned praise from Atlanta coach Mike Smith.

“We’ve got Prince Shembo, who we’re very excited about,” Smith told ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure last month. “He’s picked up the system very well. He doesn’t have any experience, but we’re going to give him a lot, I assure you that, in the preseason.”

Most of that figures to come at inside linebacker in Atlanta’s 3-4 defense, a change from the outside spot in which Shembo played in ND’s 3-4.

“Obviously you’re not chasing the quarterback as I used to,” Shembo said, “but now I can go from sideline to sideline.”

Shembo’s ascent was aided by peppering veterans with questions. He also tapped into former ND teammate Manti Te’o, who is entering his second season with the San Diego Chargers.

“We just talked football, talked everything else,” Shembo said. “It was good.”

Shembo sees good things this year for an Irish defense that is transitioning from Bob Diaco, who is now the head coach at Connecticut, to Brian VanGorder, who spent last season as an assistant with the New York Jets. Shembo was able to watch practices this spring as the new defense was installed.

“It’s a very aggressive defense, a lot of blitzing and they play a lot of man,” Shembo said. “It looked good. I could tell it was a lot of NFL style. A lot of the guys, they had a lot to learn. Some guys were struggling, some guys were picking it up.

“As I was watching more and more practices they were starting to understand it. I feel that once they understand everything that’s going on, they’re going to look real nasty.”

As training camp approached, Shembo didn’t allow himself to get caught up in his impressive mini-camp, or where he might sit on the depth chart.

“Right now they’re just trying to see what I can do and what my skill will be,” he said. “Really, I’ll be able to answer that question after this camp.”

BWieneke@SBTinfo.com ¦ 574-235-6428 ¦ Twitter: @BobWienekeNDI

Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo (55) acknowledged Saturday that he was the Notre Dame player accused of sexual assault in the 2010 Lizzy Seeburg case. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER via FTP