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Final season one last chance for Lewis-Moore

KLM hit

Kapron Lewis-Moore has come a long way since picking Notre Dame over five years ago. As a lanky 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end from Weatherford, Texas, Lewis-Moore was a recruit that came down to the wire, with the Irish being the last minute pick over hometown favorite Texas A&M.

Before Irish fans ever knew Deontay Greenberry or Ronald Darby, Lewis-Moore was lifting the Irish coaching staff’s spirits by picking the Irish just days after recommitting to his long-standing pledge to the Aggies.

“I had de-committed earlier this week because [the A&M coaches] wanted me to be 100-percent sure about my decision,” Lewis-Moore told less than a week before Signing Day 2008. “I wasn’t ready to do that. I don’t really know why.

“But I talked to my coach and my mom for a long time on Tuesday and I decided that I was definitely ready to end the process. A&M is where my heart is and I am 100-percent solid to the Aggies.”

It turned out he wasn’t, and Lewis-Moore’s eleventh hour switch, done in concert with recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello and head coach Charlie Weis, helped Notre Dame secure a much-needed bookend to Ethan Johnson.

Fast forward five years and a lot has changed in South Bend. Lewis-Moore included. That stick thin defensive end is now a 306-pound block of granite, and one of the last remaining members of the much-anticipated recruiting class of 2008.

Moore went through multiple position coaches, defensive coordinators and head coaches during his rocky period in South Bend, and now, entering his third season under head coach Brian Kelly, he finally has some continuity. After a senior season that was plagued by injuries and disappointment, that isn’t lost on the veteran as he enters another training camp.

“It’s the fifth one. I’m really excited about it,” Lewis-Moore told a group of reporters after practice this week. “I’m actually just looking forward to having some fun out there. A lot of guys dread camp, but being injured you take not playing for granted and missing time really hurt me a lot. I’m just going out there having fun.”

That fun is an important part of the 2012 season, and part of rebuilding trust and commitment after a 2011 season saw the Irish fall flat with a disappointing 8-5 season. Kelly talked about what he’s done to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. And Lewis-Moore mentioned the rededication of the team this summer, understanding the difficult schedule that sits in front of this team.

“I think this has been one of the best summers we’ve had in a while,” Lewis-Moore said. “I’m not saying that everyone wasn’t buying into the program, but everyone can see the results that can happen and see that Coach Longo knows what he’s talking about. Having everyone give that extra effort, it goes a long way. I think that’s translated over to the field.”

That translation hopefully shows strongly on the defensive line. Even with the loss of Freshman All-American Aaron Lynch, the defensive line expects to be one of the strongest units on the team, a far cry from the group Lewis-Moore started with in South Bend.

“We’ve gotta have a big year this year,” Lewis-Moore said. “I feel like we’ve always been good, but this year we’re pretty strong. We’ve got a lot of people coming back and it’s going to be a big year for us.”

Starting across from massive sophomore Stephon Tuitt, Lewis-Moore will be counted on to lead the defensive unit, the veritable old man after a tumultuous five years.