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Parts of Spond’s left side were numb when he was struck by the migraine, which doctors originally feared was a stroke. He walked with a limp after spending about half a week in the hospital, then needed rehabilitation just so he could feel close to normal again. Football was pushed aside.

That is, until he surprised the Irish by coming back so quickly.

“We were just wondering if he would ever be able to function regularly on a daily basis,” Irish star linebacker Manti Te’o said. “And then for him to come out _ what was it, a week and a half later? _ and say `I’m going to practice,’ we were like, `Oh, Danny, you can just chill, you know. This is life we’re talking about, not just football. Just chill.’ But he goes, `I’m going to get ready.’”

So he got ready. He finished the regular season with 38 tackles in 10 games, which doesn’t sound all that impressive.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco begs to differ.

Danny Spond is, to me, one of the players of the year,” Diaco said.

“To watch him battle and fight and stay positive and become the player that he has become for his teammates in 2012, he is a stalwart out there to the field. It’s very hard to get a play on him in the pass game or the run game. It’s just really been inspirational for me to watch and be a part of. So I’m so thankful for Danny Spond specifically in my life.”

Spond said the six-week wait for this has been easier than some might think, since it’s allowed the Irish to prepare and heal.

In short, he knows his team will be ready for whatever Nick Saban and Alabama can throw Notre Dame’s way on Monday night.

“They are a great team,” Spond said. “They are obviously in this game for a reason and they have proved that in the past couple of years. Coach Saban has built a very strong program over there, so we’re preparing for their best. They’ll give us their best.”