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Badger’s return from Mission adds intrigue at safety

Mar 6, 2012, 12:05 PM EDT

Chris Badger

After 21 months away from his family and friends in Ecuador, one of the first things Chris Badger‘s family did was size him up. He looked taller. The family hadn’t even left the airport before Badger was back-to-back with his father Rod, curious to see if the now 20-year-old had grown an inch or two while serving his Mormon Mission.

Irish fans are curious about Badger, too. After enrolling early his freshman year to get a jump on both football and academics, Badger joined freshman Spencer Boyd with the curious distinction of leaving the football program before ever playing a game.

While Boyd has restarted his football career at South Florida, Badger will return to South Bend this summer to rejoin his teammates and restart a college football career that only consists of 15 spring practices after a stand-out career as an All-State safety in Utah.

After two seasons away, he’ll return to a secondary that looks much different than the one he joined in the first days of Brian Kelly’s tenure. His position coach is now the offensive coordinator. Safety Harrison Smith was a gigantic question mark then, not a potential first round draft pick. Not a single cornerback from Badger’s time is on the roster. While the rest of the two-deep that existed (Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter and Dan McCarthy) at safety is still around, he’ll be joined by Austin Collinsworth, Eilar Hardy, Nick Baratti, CJ Prosise, John Turner and Elijah Shumate. Those are a lot of new faces and names to get accustomed to knowing.

Of course, walking into challenging situations is hardly a new experience for Badger. As Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune so nicely documented, Badger’s nearly two-year Mission in Ecuador was filled with life-changing moments, as he shared his faith in a place thousands of miles from home. Whether it was surviving harrowing moments with armed robbers or waking at 5:30 to keep a training regime, Badger sounds confident that his resolve to be a great player, nor his love for Notre Dame football, have diminished.

“The one thing that didn’t change while I was gone was my feeling that Notre Dame was a match made in heaven,” Badger told Hansen. “When I came on my recruiting visit, I remember praying and receiving a revelation that this is where I need to be and where I can make a difference, and really become a great player, a great person and a great student. I feel even more strongly that way now.”

After not being sure Badger would ever return to Notre Dame, now the biggest question is what his return will mean. After two seasons away from the game and a depth chart at safety filled mostly with veteran (at least from an eligibility standpoint) depth, Badger’s freshman season could mostly be one where he catches up, with contributions on special teams likely where he’ll get the opportunity to get his feet wet. With the added size and maturity that comes with being a more mature 20-year-old, Badger will likely be given every opportunity to see the field early, as any strategic advantage that comes from a redshirt season is likely negated by his Mission.

In 2013, Badger could get his first opportunity to shine. Assumed starters Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta will be graduated. Danny McCarthy will be gone as well, leaving senior Austin Collinsworth and well… everybody else. For those griping about the “saved” scholarship for Badger, they likely haven’t taking a look back at his highlight reel coming out of high school, where the three-star prospect certainly put together a blue-chipper’s game tape. He may not wow you with his blazing speed, but there’s no question that Badger’s return to campus might bring some thunderous collisions.

Badger is home in Utah now, getting back up to speed with his training before joining the Irish this summer for classes as well as strength and conditioning. It’s be a winding journey just to start his football career. Where it goes from here should be just as interesting.


  1. nudeman - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Welcome back, son
    I’m Catholic but have always admired this aspect of the Mormon Church. Wouldn’t we all be better people today if we’d gone on missions as 18 or 19 year old kids?

    As far as the video, how many bone rattling collisions can a guy’s highlight reel have? Amazing.

    Unlike the departing #22 who also hit very hard, I just hope this kid can cover receivers a little more closely. Maybe even intercept a pass or two.

    • andy44teg - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      The kid looks like he’d be fast enough (albeit he was playing against a bunch of white kids from Utah) From the tape you can tell that he has great anticipation as well. I just hope that he can adjust to the wussification of football nowadays. Pry 70% of the hits on this video would have been flagged for a personal foul. They call the game a little bit differently now than they did two years ago, and that’s going to be a very difficult adjustment for someone who’s just getting back into the game. Nevertheless, looks like he’ll be a great addition! GO IRISH!!

  2. bernhtp - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    He has likely grown and otherwise matured physically. He appears more mature psychologically and even more resolute to be great at Notre Dame. Whether he gets into the two-deep this year at safety or not, I bet he will be a big contributor to special teams.

  3. 808raiderinparadise - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    NIce hits, kid likes to make contact, good sign for a safety about to try and play at ND, BUT this clip hardly suggest he is a “blue chip” recruit …. 3 stars is suitable but athleticism is in demand @ ND … with the schedule and big stage I will take a sure tackler with excelent ball skills over a hitter … find him some special teams time and develop his coverage skills.

  4. sullyp18 - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Scarey to see how many BIG games ND has next year. Take a look at the top 20 and how many ND games are listed.

    • bernhtp - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      It’s interesting that Oklahoma plays Kansas the week before they play us. I wonder if Charlie of Dayne will give Brian a call with an insights that don’t readily show on film.

      • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        Uh … Put me down for “no” in the office pool, on that one.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Mar 6, 2012 at 7:41 PM

      They have us in 6 of the top 17 non-conf games. Its gonna be a bear of a schedule but it will fun to watch. Can’t wait.

  5. don74 - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    All the best to the young man. I have worked with many who have done their mission and am impressed with their composure and maturity. The film is interesting but I wonder how relevant it is considering he is 2 years older. Even being away from the conditioning the difference between an 18 year old and a 20 year old is significant. My guess is he will find a way to make an impact. If it’s special teams this year, so be it.

    On another note, friend of the blog (Keith’s words), Bruce Feldman noted the top 10 QB battles this spring on Feb 28. ND’s was #3. Check out the last line or 2. Pretty interesting.

    3-Notre Dame – Tommy Rees vs. Andrew Hendrix vs. Everett Golson vs. Gunner Kiel: The Irish should have their best front seven in years but how much more efficient can their offense be, especially without go-to receiver Mike Floyd? Rees has the most experience, but has struggled quite a bit and looks like he’ll get overtaken this year. Hendrix saw some action last year as more of a change up because of his running ability. He also has a much stronger arm than Rees. As I’ve said a few times this off-season, Brian Kelly is sky high on Golson, a shorter QB from South Carolina, who redshirted in 2011. The 5-11 Golson, a dual-threat QB, could bring that much-needed spark to the ND offense. Kiel, an early enrollee, comes to South Bend with the biggest recruiting hype of the bunch, but several QB coaches who worked with the Indiana native last summer came away skeptical about how competitive he is and whether he has the moxie to be an elite QB.

    • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      Interesting about Kiel. Hope he’s wrong.

      Nonetheless, I’ll worry about him when it’s his turn. Right now I’m more concerned about the health, well being and development of AH and EG.

    • 1historian - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      we’ll see. How this plays out will be interesting

  6. 9lirish - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    This comment was edited/deleted because I’m tired of people inciting idiocy. New policy.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 7, 2012 at 12:09 AM


      I didn’t see what was written, but i’ll probably stand on the side of the first amendment and request that you NOT remove comments due to “people inciting idocy”

      You get the opportunity to express your thoughts with the first 500-1000 words before all of our comments. Unless 9irish violated a law, we should probably let him/her express his/her own thoughts.

      • bernhtp - Mar 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM

        I support Keith taking whatever action he deems appropriate to reduce content that is uncivil, insipid, and way out of topic (ND football). After all, this is his forum and he gets to make rules that maximize the interest and participation. This is not about freedom of speech; people can broadcast their idiotic and boring thoughts in other places where they is more welcome/tolerated.

      • bernhtp - Mar 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM

        Re: “but i’ll probably stand on the side of the first amendment…”

        Civics 101: the First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law…”

        Keith is not Congress and is making no law. He is merely exercising his managerial responsibility over this web property so that a few boorish and inconsiderate idiots don’t make the signal/noise ratio here so low that people leave.

    • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM

      Didn’t see what he wrote but the guy has been a jerk in the past.
      So this was probably a good move.

  7. rico75 - Mar 7, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    I didn’t see what was deleted, but thank you, Keith. Please, please, please use your good judgement often! Your blog has been a first stop for me for over a year and I’ve never commented before. But I want to make sure you get positive feedback on this move. There are certain posters here – one in particular – that need to be reined in. And it has nothing to do with only wanting to hear ND cheerleading. I have no problem with negative comments – as long as they’re even half way intelligent. And I totally trust your judgement. Keep up the good work!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 7, 2012 at 1:04 AM

      This is absolutely, fundamentally, 100% flawed!

      First, let me say, I trust that Keith has good judgement as well, but he only has good judgement for Keith. His judgement is derived from HIS experiences and HIS life path and HIS values. And because of that he doesn’t have ability to exercise good judgement for all.

      Who is Keith to decide what is in poor taste/idiotic/offensive for me or you or anyone else?

      Furthermore, your “half way intelligent” comment could be just as offensive or annoying as whatever 9irish wrote. Shouldn’t that be stricken from the record?

      And to Keith,

      I sincerely hope that you rethink your position on removing ANY comments. I don’t know you, or what you are, or what you aspire to be. I don’t know if you consider yourself a blogger or a journalist, but if it is the former, you’ve squashed the very premise of blogging. If it’s the latter, you’ve turned a blind eye to journalistic integrity.

      • 1historian - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:42 AM

        Q: “Who is Keith to decide what is in poor taste/idiotic/offensive for me or you or anyone else?”

        A: He is the guy who started this discussion forum in the first place – he gets to make calls like that.

      • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:57 AM


        First, no one’s 1st Amendment rights are being taken away. The guy still can post here, still has access to his keyboard and PC and can visit other sites as well should he choose. Keith puts time and effort in here to make this a respectable forum, and my opinion is he has the right to yank a post if it’s inflammatory, crude, vulgar and has no other redeeming value.

        Let me ask you this: Does the 1st Amendment permit someone to come up to your house and scream a bunch of crap at you and your family, just because he supposedly can? I don’t know, maybe it does. But you’ve got every right to jab your finger in the guy’s chest and tell him to get lost.

        That’s the way I view this.

      • andy44teg - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM


        I read the post. What Keith did was in no way a violation of first amendment rights. The guy wasn’t kicked off the site, he wasn’t put in jail for his comments, and he still has the ability to make more stupid comments. What the guy said had NOTHING to do with Notre Dame nor added any kind of value to the blog. He said it pry 3-4 deep into cocktail hour, and all he was trying to do was start a fight w/ a few regulars here including myself. There’s no sense of moral obligation to the constitution to not delete the post.

  8. mmcss690 - Mar 7, 2012 at 5:01 AM

    I read the post and support Keith’s actions. For anyone opposed to the removal of the comment, understand that the post was NOT an expressed opinion, was NOT a disagreement with another post, was NOT argumentative, was NOT Irish related, NOT football related, NOT even sports related.

    The comment was an inciting, hateful, and derogatory string of words designed to elicit negativity.

    This blog is here for Irish fans (or any sports fan) to express opinions within the realm of sports (primarily ND football). As a mediator of this blog sight Keith has a responsibility to keep this area focused. For the time I have been here reading these posts this is the first instance I have seen Keith edit a comment . . . And it was justified.

  9. schuey73 - Mar 7, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    I’m sure Keith will write more about this later today, but we got commit #2 for 2013!


  10. fitz79 - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Nice. I feel like this is an extra recruit at a position that needs a little help. Looks like he could stand to add a little mass but he seems to have great vision on the field.

  11. don74 - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:31 AM


    I saw the post later deleted. I read the first two lines, to me it was neither funny nor insightful, so I skipped it. Thinking about it, that’s what’s been happening lately, I’ve been skipping many of the comments. I look at this blog, or any site I frequent around the net, as I look at a place where I want to hang out. When I go out I want to go to a place where I can relax, maybe have a decent conversation and at the very least feel engaged within the context of the establishment. I don’t go out to be insulted or listen to people pratttle on. Set the rules and that’s that. If folks want a place where shoes and shirts aren’t required they can find em. I don’t seee this as a first amendment issue, I see it as house rules.

    • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:48 AM



      This is the equivalent of a journalistic pub with bar stools and Guinness on tap and pictures of Bobby Hull and Ara on the wall, where we can argue quasi-intelligently.

      I love the site, but there are a handful of guys (UAW and this 91Irish guy, primarily) who need help.

      The stuff they post could be on a punk rock board.

      • uawlocal1136 - Mar 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM


        Just couldn’t help yourself, could ya. Now you come forth appearing to be all sanctimonious. Well, “all -knowing one” you yourself have crossed the line many times. From your unrelenting bashing of TR, to telling an 18 year old kid that doesn’t pick the Bend that he will end up washing cars, to your persistent use of “f” bombs, you have become predictable, boorish and insulting, not to mention plagiaristic.

        You don’t “love this site.” If you did, you would write meaningful, insightful commentary and that would be reason enough for me to leave you alone. But, my “friend”, keep up the sights and sounds of the past and I will stay on you, just beneath your skin, an itch you just can’t scratch.

        So, what did we learn today? Likely nothing. In the words of my least best friend of all time, Roger Erb, “You have met my expectations.”

        Buy Union, Buy American. Re-elect President Obama.

      • 1historian - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        good one nudey

      • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        Funny how you and goat just happened to show up together on the same article, after being away for a while.

        Seriously, you’ve quit trying to disguise it, haven’t you?

      • uawlocal1136 - Mar 7, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        Nude boy,

        For the last time and so sorry to disappoint you, there is no connection between the two. You are far too judgmental in everything you do…and repetitive. So find a new line or two. You know my comments are spot on and your response, merely a weak attempt at a comeback. It failed. You really should take my comments to heart and lighten up. Keith’s articles keep all of us informed on a daily basis. His insight is welcome. Yours simply detract. Hard to accept the criticism, I’m sure, but suck it up and change your outlook. You may just start feeling better about yourself.

        Buy American!

      • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 5:13 PM


        Listen bud, I won’t mince words here. You’re the village idiot.

        I’ve never once seen you post a thing about ND football; just your usual nude/pube/nudedouche garbage.

        I asked you about 4 or 5 questions about ND football a couple weeks back. No answer.

        Drop off this board. Find one that specializes in unfunny, weird material where the average IQ is 98. Like I said, maybe a punk rock forum. You’ll feel more at home.

      • 1hoss - Mar 7, 2012 at 9:45 PM

        UAW should be banned from commenting for even suggesting Obama should be re-elected. Good God.

      • uawlocal1136 - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:16 AM


        Way deep under your skin now!!! Great way to start a day!

        Reelect President Obama. Support American jobs. Look for the Union label.

  12. 1historian - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Don74 – ‘House rules’ – well said.

    Whatever happened to that TE from Pa. I think it was who was high on the list and who was going to announce yesterday? If he’s not in the Irish news today I would have to assume he’s going somewhere else. Anybody know?

    • oldestguard - Mar 7, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      I think you’re referring to Breneman…that commit should be revealed on the 9th, unless he changed his mind…

      • 1historian - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:33 PM

        I thought he was going to announce yesterday. Thanks

      • papadec - Mar 8, 2012 at 3:38 AM

        I could be wrong, but you guys might be talking about the guy that committed to Penn St – I don’t remember his name.

  13. Keith Arnold - Mar 7, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    @idratherbeinsouthbend — I appreciate the spirit of your comment. Believe me, the last thing I want to be doing is keeping an eye on the comments of this website — it’s a total waste of time and energy, and I think there are a lot of valuable readers on here that participate and make this a more interactive experience.

    That said, I am going to start being proactive about posts that aren’t appropriate for this type of forum. The one that I deleted — while not particularly offensive, did little to advance the discussion or topic, and was merely a six-part jab at different commenters on here. As Jim Rome would say, it was the ultimate Triple U comment: Unfunny, Uninspired, Unreadable. Those are all going to go.

    I’ve gotten a ton of emails from readers that don’t participate in the comments. Most of them say that the commenters detract from their experience, and they’ve stopped spending as much time here because of the idiocy of some commenters. I value every reader I have, not just the ones that take the time to give their thoughts or opinions below my stories. If something stupid or hateful is said and it costs me a reader, I’d much rather eliminate the person that’s repeatedly being distasteful or just plain dumb.

    So new rules:

    We’re setting the bar a little bit higher here. And unfortunately, I’m the judge and jury. If you think that violates your first amendment rights, well — I don’t think you and I understand the amendment the same way. Feel free to continue to post here, debate here, make a funny joke here, but just make sure it’s worth the time it takes to read. I’m not in the business of moderating anything, but I’m also not in the business of running readers away because of some bozos that make the stuff below the fold unreadable.

    Any questions or thoughts — you guys know how to find me.

    • herringbonesports - Mar 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      Good for you Keith. No need for the posts that are overly abusive in nature and made only to take out personal frustrations on somebody else’s quality site.

      100% in your corner on this and don’t confuse the 1st Amendment with blasting off on any website of your choosing, especially if the comment is completely off topic. This is America and those who strive for an improvement of character around ourselves improve the communities we all share.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM


      I sincerely appreciate the reply and I understand your perspective.


    • domer77blowsgoats - Mar 7, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      Being one that is probably going to be up for deletion and censorship at least 99% of the time, I figured we now need some ground rules or at least a consistant application

      Glad to see we are using Jim Rome as a guidline for censorship on a freakin sports blog comment section

      So where does the said judge and jury now stand on the following:

      1. plagairism
      2. profantiy
      3. name calling
      4. racist comments
      5. sexist comments
      6. belittling minors (i.e. profanity AND name calling of 17 year old recruits)
      7. repetitive posting

      The list can go on and on, quite the slippery slope all for a comment section on a football sports blog. GAME ON and all hail Keith!

      • 1historian - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        work on your spelling


      • domer77blowsgoats - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        noted, thanks 1historian

        based on the current criteria of said executioner your comment should be deleted as well

      • nudeman - Mar 7, 2012 at 3:29 PM

        You are dangerously close to being banned as it is.
        I’d retract that list if I was you, buddy
        But I’m not
        Thank God

      • Keith Arnold - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:25 AM

        Agree with you Goat. But doing nothing wasn’t cutting it. As Money Mayweather would say, “Step ya game up.”

    • 1historian - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      Keith – you started the blog, you make the rules.

    • waydomer - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      I didn’t see the comment Keith, but I trust your judgment. Too many people don’t understand the 1st amendment. Just because someone has a right to their opinion, it doesn’t mean that someone else has to supply a microphone, amplfier, and speakers for that opinion to be heard. 91Irish has lot’s of options to have his opinion heard including starting his own blog or going down to the courthouse steps. You have absolutely no obligation to provide a forum for trash (let the trash get their own forum) and glad you are asserting your rights to keep this site a decent place to get inormation and opinions on ND football.

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