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Fiesta Bowl the final game for Notre Dame's Fasano?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Anthony Fasano approaches the Tostitos Fiesta
Bowl as if it might be his last game. The Notre Dame tight end
takes that thought into every game, knowing a career-ending injury
is always possible.

This time, the feeling is more real. He still has a year of
eligibility and he's thinking about entering the NFL draft.

"With a decision not being made and not knowing where my future
is right now, I'm definitely going to treat it as my last game,"
he said, referring to Monday's showdown with Ohio State. "It's not
going to be much different than other games. But going into the
game I know it might possibly be my last game."

Fasano, 6-foot-4 and 257 pounds, didn't enter the season with
such thoughts. He was second on the team last year with 27 catches
for 367 yards. In two seasons, he had 45 catches for 536 yards.

But this season alone he had 45 catches for 564 yards. That was
good enough to make him one of three finalists for the John Mackey
Award, which is given each year to an outstanding tight end.

"His goal every game starts with being able to dominate on the
line of scrimmage as a blocker because a tight end's job is to be
an extension of the offensive line," coach Charlie Weis said.

"This offense is not one where the tight end is detached all over
the place and just running routes as a receiver. It all starts with
a run-pass threat, and I think Anthony has been one of our most
consistent players the entire season."

Fasano learned that Weis thought he might be NFL material from
the coach's comments in a newspaper.

"He's not going to really share that with us, especially during
the season," Fasano said. "But coming from him, it's a real
compliment."

Fasano said he will depend heavily on the advice of Weis, the
former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, on
whether to enter the draft.

"I appreciate that so much," Fasano said. "When he tells you
something, it's going to be the truth and it's going to be what you
need to succeed in the NFL."

Weis described Fasano as a player in the "gray area" because
he will receive his degree this spring.
"I don't want to be a hypocrite. I want Anthony Fasano to be
part of our program. But the biggest thing is I want what's best
for these kids," Weis said. "As long as they're walking out of
there with a Notre Dame degree and it's not going to really hurt
their pockets tremendously, I would never discourage it. I'm not
going to encourage, I'm just not going to discourage it."

Fasano and his coach share a New Jersey bond and have had a
special relationship since Weis was hired. Weis said he was at ease
from the beginning talking with Fasano, saying he could get a
message across to him with just a look.

"Anthony was one of those who I didn't have to say much. He's
seen me 1,000 times. He knows 1,000 Charlie Weises, where some of
these guys didn't know one," Weis said.

Fasano knew from what he saw at spring practice that Weis was on
the right track.

"This team was organized and had their head on straight. I
think I knew we were going to be in the right direction," he said.

Fasano was excited when Weis took him aside before the season
and told him he could expect to see the ball much more.

Fasano now has another job -- help the No. 5 Irish (9-2) beat No.
4 Ohio State. The Irish are 10th in the nation in total offense at
489 yards a game. The Buckeyes are fourth in the nation in total
defense at 275 yards a game.

"Because for us to prove that we are a good offense -- and not
only in stats -- we have to play good people," Fasano said. "And
as a competitor, going up against the best is why I came to this
school."