Irish football team enjoying Christmas in Orlando

The Notre Dame football team enjoyed its Christmas in Orlando as they prepare to face Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Thursday.

Coach Kelly and his staff arrived on December 23rd with the players coming on the 24th. The team practiced on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The team is certainly enjoying their time in Orlando outside of practice. Players went to Sea World on Christmas Eve and Disney World on Christmas Day. The whole team will go to Universal Studios on Monday.

Christmas Day began with the entire football squad and traveling party celebrating Mass at 9:30 a.m. (celebrated by team chaplain Father Paul Doyle). Angelo Diaco, son of Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, sang two traditional holiday numbers during communion. After Mass, the entire group moved next door for a Christmas brunch that included a visit from Santa Claus (he brought presents for the younger set).

Notre Dame moved its practice inside the Citrus Bowl Stadium under cloudy but warm conditions. The whiteboard at the front door bore the welcome “MERRY CHRISTMAS” in capital green and red letters.

As quarterback Andrew Hendrix noted, “ I don’t think I’ve ever sweated this much on Christmas.”

Irish coach Brian Kelly also noted that these have been very enjoyable weeks working with still-learning quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix. With Hendrix no longer pigeon-holed into a single package or two, Kelly noted that he “could play quite a bit.”

Kelly said that normally both assistants Charley Molnar and Tim Hinton are on the headsets with him—so with Molnar now the head coach at UMass, intern Scott Booker will fill that role.

Notre Dame and Florida State kickoff at 5:30 on Thursday in the Champs Sports Bowl. WNDU's coverage from Orlando begins Tuesday on NewsCenter 16 at 5.

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