Skip to content

Restocking: Secondary

Feb 19, 2013, 1:26 PM EDT

Bennett Jackson 2

After 40 days of prep and a January match-up, Alabama coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier finally designed a game plan that beat a young Notre Dame secondary that many thought would have plenty of troubling Saturdays. Yet even as injuries forced inexperience and youth into the lineup, Kerry Cooks and Bobby Elliott worked miracles with a group that in season’s past would have been the Achilles heel of the team.

Losing key building blocks like Lo Wood and Austin Collinsworth before the season and then starter Jamoris Slaughter early in the year was a recipe for disaster, yet the unit played well all season, with only AJ McCarron slicing and dicing the group with precision.

Heading into 2013, the Irish are positioned to have one of their strongest secondaries of the Kelly era. While they’ll need to replace Zeke Motta and Slaughter, who was denied an appeal for a sixth season last week, they’ll have plenty of experience returning, with 2012 acting as a jump start in development for several young players.

Let’s take a look at the last few recruiting classes and see just how much work this coaching staff did to replenish the roster.

2009
E.J. Banks — Spent 2009 season redshirting before leaving program in 2010. Now at Pitt.

2010
Chris Badger — Enrolled early only to go on Mormon Mission. Redshirted during 2012 season.
Spencer Boyd — Early enrollee who left campus before ever suiting up. Now at USF.
Austin Collinsworth — One of Brian Kelly’s first scholarship offers. Will compete for starting job.
Lo Wood — Inside track to starting cornerback job last year until Achilles tear.
Bennett Jackson — Started career as WR. Will sit out spring drills, but locked in as starting CB.

2011
Matthias Farley — Spent ’11 season as a redshirt WR. Started at safety after Jamoris Slaughter went out.
Josh Atkinson — Special teams contributor in first two seasons. Speedster limited athletically.
Jalen Brown — Great size for corner. Saw time as reserve DB after redshirting in 2011.
Eilar Hardy — Knee injury cut short freshman season. Reserve safety saw limited minutes in ’12.

2012
Nicky Baratti — Hard-hitting safety logged some key minutes during freshman season.
CJ Prosise — Jumbo safety worked as a weak-side linebacker, but stayed off the field.
KeiVarae Russell — Switched to cornerback in fall camp. Won starting CB job as true freshman.
Tee Shepard — Highly touted early enrollee never stepped for on playing field.
Elijah Shumate — Played key minutes as freshman nickel back. Played CB after starting as a safety.
John Turner — Big-bodied safety redshirted his freshman season.

2013
Devin Butler — Projects to start career as a big-bodied cornerback prospect.
Cole Luke — Needs to gain weight, but one of the elite cover corners in the recruiting class.
Rashad Kinlaw — Injuries shortened junior and senior seasons. Pure athlete, projected as DB.
Max Redfield — Five-star prospect immediately enters race for time at safety.

Way too early spring projection

It’s worth keeping an eye on the guys returning from injury. Both Wood and Collinsworth would have played major minutes last season. The official departure of Slaughter makes the safety spot really an open competition. A handful of guys should feel like they have a legitimate chance to win jobs. For every logical candidate like Farley, Collinsworth and Baratti, there are a handful of other guys worth watching, like Shumate and Hardy.

At cornerback, the Irish welcome back starters, but should see competition behind them be tight. Wood will expect to fight his way back into the rotation while Atkinson and Brown will take a step forward after another season of development. It’s worth watching what happens with Shumate, who has the athleticism to play either position.

After really thin numbers in previous years, the secondary’s depth chart is finally getting healthy.

Latest Posts
  1. Mahone sentenced to 10 days in jail

    Jul 24, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

    mahone (1)

    Wide receiver Will Mahone, whose future at Notre Dame is still uncertain, was sentenced to 10 days in Mahoning County jail on Wednesday stemming from an arrest in June. Mahone has been indefinitely suspended from the football team by Brian Kelly and is not enrolled at the university.

  2. Irish A-to-Z: Cam McDaniel

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Against just about all odds, senior Cam McDaniel led the Irish in rushing in 2013. Our latest installment in the Irish A-to-Z looks at the veteran running back, who now battles sophomores Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston for carries.

  3. FieldTurf installation nearly complete

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Stadium Surface

    In case you haven’t been following along on social media, the installation of Notre Dame’s new synthetic surface is nearly complete. With the team from FieldTurf working this week to lay down the playing field, the Irish will have a playable field to practice on when camp begins on August 4

  4. Irish A-to-Z: Jacob Matuska

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    Jacob Matuska

    A recruiting cycle before Notre Dame went hunting late for big bodies to play along the defensive line, they signed a player who might be able to fit that mold in 2014. Fresh off a redshirt, Jacob Matuska has the chance to add some much needed size and strength to Brian VanGorder’s defensive line.

  5. Irish A-to-Z: Greer Martini

    Jul 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Greer Martini

    The founding member of the 2014 recruiting class, linebacker Greer Martini enters a football program that looks decidedly different than the one he committed to back in July of 2012. Irish A-to-Z continues as we look at the freshman inside linebacker.

  6. Irish A-to-Z: Nick Martin

    Jul 21, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    No, he’s not his brother. But center Nick Martin should solidify his standing as one of the top centers in the country in 2014. After an injury ended his debut season in the starting lineup early, Martin returns healthy after knee surgery, giving Notre Dame a key anchor in the middle of Harry Hiestand’s offensive line.

  7. Irish A-to-Z: Tyler Luatua

    Jul 21, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Rivals.com Rivals.com

    After losing Troy Niklas and Alex Welch from the depth chart, Notre Dame needed to restock a position that’s been very kind to the Irish over the past few years. Irish A-to-Z continues with freshman tight end Tyler Luatua.

  8. Irish A-to-Z: Cole Luke

    Jul 20, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Keenan Reynolds, Justin Utopo, Cole Luke Keenan Reynolds, Justin Utopo, Cole Luke

    A year after contributing as a freshman, Cole Luke’s assignment will be a bit more ambitious in 2014. One of three cornerbacks who is expected to play major minutes, Irish A-to-Z continues with the sophomore cover man.

  9. Irish A-to-Z: Christian Lombard

    Jul 19, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Christian Lombard

    One of four graduate students on the Irish roster, Christian Lombard feels like he’s been a part of the Notre Dame football program for a long time. As one of Charlie Weis’ earliest commitments in the 2010 class, Lombard has seen coaching changes, position switches and injury challenges in his five years in South Bend.

  10. Irish A-to-Z: Ben Koyack

    Jul 19, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT

    New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Rutgers v Notre Dame Getty Images

    After two underwhelming seasons in South Bend, Ben Koyack finally emerged as a legitimate threat late last season. And with Troy Niklas’ unexpected departure to the NFL, Koyack has a chance to be the next in a line of impressive tight ends playing on Sundays. The Irish A-to-Z continues with a look at Notre Dame’s starting tight end.

  11. Weekend notes: Football just around the corner

    Jul 18, 2014, 5:51 PM EDT

    New York Post New York Post

    As we head into a beautiful July weekend, the beginning of football is closer than you may think. Let’s take a tour around some of the better articles I read this week.

  12. Irish A-to-Z: DeShone Kizer

    Jul 17, 2014, 3:04 PM EDT

    Toledo Blade Property of the Toledo Blade

    With just two other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, incoming freshman DeShone Kizer begins his college career a bit closer to the playing field than any head coach would like. Our latest in Irish A-to-Z looks at Notre Dame’s quarterback from the 2014 recruiting class.

  13. Irish A-to-Z: Jarron Jones

    Jul 17, 2014, 12:27 PM EDT

    Matt Cashore - USA Today Matt Cashore - USA Today

    Injuries to Louis Nix and Kona Schwenke gave Jarron Jones his shot at a new position. The rising junior took advantage of his opportunities. Our next installment in Irish A-to-Z takes a look at Notre Dame’s new starting defensive tackle.

  14. Irish A-to-Z: Torii Hunter Jr.

    Jul 16, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT

    Hunter Jr

    When Notre Dame added Torii Hunter Jr. to the roster on Signing Day 2013, the Irish did more than just add another famous father to the family section at Notre Dame Stadium. Our next installment on Irish A-to-Z looks at a rising sophomore who is healthy after entering Notre Dame with a major injury.

  15. Notre Dame releases design updates for FieldTurf

    Jul 16, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Few football programs need a press release to discuss the markings on their home football field. But after months of wonderment by certain segments of the Irish football fanbase, the athletic department gave us an early “look” at what the new synthetic playing surface will look like when Notre Dame takes the field this fall.

  16. Irish A-to-Z: Chase Hounshell

    Jul 15, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT

    Hounshell

    Entering his senior season, Chase Hounshell’s career has been defined by what’s kept him off the field, not his performance on it. Our next installment in Irish A-to-Z looks closer at the Ohio native who has battled back from multiple shoulder injuries.

  17. Golson’s return to Elite 11 takes him full circle

    Jul 15, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Notre Dame Football Spring Practice Notre Dame Football Spring Practice

    Everett Golson spent part of last week as a counselor at the Elite 11 quarterback camp, held at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. And while he earned rave reviews for his work on the playing field as an instructor, he also earned more than his fair share of kudos for his maturity off of it.

  18. Irish A-to-Z: Corey Holmes

    Jul 14, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Orlando Sentinel Orlando Sentinel

    While TJ Jones is gone, Notre Dame might have signed a receiver that looks and plays an awful lot like him in incoming freshman Corey Holmes. Irish A-to-Z continues with the incoming freshman receiver from Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the elite programs in the country.

  19. Irish A-to-Z: Kolin Hill

    Jul 13, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Instagram Instagram

    One of the last players on Notre Dame’s radar during the 2014 recruiting cycle was Kolin Hill. Our next installment in the Irish A-to-Z series takes a look at the incoming freshman from Texas.

  20. Irish A-to-Z: Mike Heuerman

    Jul 12, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Heuerman

    After spending 2013 on the sidelines, opportunity comes to Mike Heuerman in 2014. With Troy Niklas a surprise entrant in the NFL Draft and the departure of veteran Alex Welch to Miami (Ohio), Heuerman and fellow sophomore Durham Smythe are the next men in for Brian Kelly and the Irish offense.