Sep 2, 2009, 2:00 PM EDT
While All-America accolades aren’t necessarily hanging on the walls, there is no more acclaimed position group, top to bottom, than the Notre Dame secondary. Sure, wide receivers have a dynamic duo. And the quarterbacks have that one kid who created a stir in a Hummer limo way back when and another All-Everything recruit in Dayne Crist. But if you look at the Notre Dame secondary from top to bottom, it is the deepest position group on the field.
The two-deep depth chart is something out of a Rivals recruiting manual. From corner to corner, four- and five-star recruits prepare for the season, ready to announce their presence as the strength of this Notre Dame team.
Robert Blanton instantly made a name for himself. The rising sophomore was known for his unmatched confidence (and mouth) as he willed his way into the starting lineup as a freshman. Harrison Smith impressed all of us with his ability to play in the box as a 205-pound linebacker and still lead the team in tackles for losses. Kyle McCarthy, who for years lived in the shadow of his highly decorated teammates, became widely acknowledged as the heart of the secondary. And the mix of corners who weren’t on the field all the time, Darrin Walls, Gary Gray, and Jamoris Slaughter, taunted Irish fans as they awaited one of them to become the crown jewel so many had hoped they’d become.
To say Raeshon McNeil is a forgotten man would to be kind. After all, even the Notre Dame media guide didn’t have much hope for him winning a starting job over Robert Blanton, a “tremendous young player.”
From McNeil’s bio:
“One of Notre Dame’s most experienced defensive backs will compete for the starting left cornerback position with Robert Blanton this year.”
With the two-deep depth chart established for the opening game, competition found McNeil across from Blanton in the starting lineup, and ahead of the rest of his highly decorated teammates. While he and best friend Darrin Walls may be sharing a lot of duties on the field, McNeil earned his spot atop the deepest position on the depth chart the hard way.
It’s often said that the less you hear about a defensive back the better. Even if his 11 passes broken up last season were the third most in a season in the school’s history, maybe it’s better that we don’t talk about Raeshon McNeil.
He probably likes it that way.