"I'm feeling pretty good these days."
Ethan Johnson said it as if the days of struggling through an ankle injury were waning memories of a distant past. But it was only three months ago when a player fell on his ankle during the Purdue game, contorting his leg in such an unnatural way that the video replay induces cringes and diverted eyes.
In the weeks that followed, Johnson did everything he could to get back on the field, but week after week, he just wasn't ready to go.
The Irish defensive end returned to start the final three games of the regular season, but he was never at full strength. Finally now, he is.
"I'd say I'm 100 percent,” Johnson said. “I feel good.”
The feeling of health is a welcome one for Johnson, who was relegated to the sidelines for much of the last half of the season.
“Injuries are just frustrating,” he explained. “There's nothing you can really do about it, other than do what the trainers ask you to do and do it at the best of your ability, and just rest.
"I'm just really happy that my ankle feels good and my body feels good overall," he added.
There’s no better time to feel so good. Johnson’s senior standing means the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State will be his final game as a member of the Fighting Irish.
He wants to make the most of it.
"It could be my last game realistically,” he explained. “[It] could be my last game ever, especially at Notre Dame, wearing this jersey. It just means a lot. Whatever that would mean to me--that's what it means. I'm just real excited to get out there and give it my all, leave it all on the field and at the end of the day, hopefully a great taste in my mouth."
Of course, only one thing could leave such a great taste: a victory for the Irish in Orlando.