Nate Montana, son of the legend Joe was told by coach Brian Kelly he was the No.2 behind Dayne Crist during spring practice.

But that's before three touted freshmen make it to campus by summer.

Still Nate, a strapping 6 foot four junior, was not complaining.

“It was a big confidence-booster,” said the walk on to the South Bend Tribune . “I live to compete, and that's what I'm trying to do every day. The coaching is great. You feel like you build on what you did yesterday, like a stepping stone.”

“I feel like I've made huge strides since last year,” he said.

Montana has had a checkered career. His brother Nick is considered the true heir to Joe but he picked Washington over Notre Dame -- something about the ghosts of history.

Nate walked on, but found it hard at the place where his father is a legend among legends.

“Sometimes you just want to get away from it and fly under the radar,” Montana said. “But it's with me. I have to embrace it when I need to. At other times, I try to stay away from it. I want to make my own name too.”

“My dad and my family,” Montana said when asked who convinced him to stick with it

“They had the confidence in me. They were so supportive that it gave me confidence in myself. And my dad worked with me.”

“It was a tough decision,” he said. “But it seemed like a good opportunity to come back. Good timing. New coaches. And it was a place I felt comfortable. I had friends here. I had a feeling it was going to be a good spot.”

“It was hard. It was tough, but it was good work,” Montana said talking about spring practice . “I liked it. I was just glad to be back.”