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Freshman Focus: Cole Luke

Jul 10, 2013, 1:29 PM EDT

Cole Luke

If Notre Dame was looking to solidify the cornerback position during the last recruiting cycle, they found their headliner in Arizona’s Cole Luke. With size, speed and technique that ranks among the best in the country, signing Luke was the type of recruiting surprise that Irish fans have started to get used to under Brian Kelly.

Playing for former Irish quarterback Steve Belles at the powerhouse program at Hamilton, Luke had his choice of elite programs before surprising many by leaving the Southwest and heading to South Bend.

While the top of the depth chart is pretty well stocked, wearing the No. 3 jersey usually means something special for the Irish. Let’s take a closer look at one of the newest cornerbacks on campus.


Put simply, Luke’s offer lists is one of the more impressive in the country. With official visits to Texas and Oklahoma, and interest from a dozen other elite programs, there’s no wonder that Luke is among the top prospects at his position, and one of the top players in Arizona.

Depending on the recruiting service, Luke is a fringe Top 100 player, though listed in just about everyone’s top 150. Long, lean, and skilled cornerbacks that play at elite programs tend to be highly sought after. His offers and the rankings reflect that.


After talking to people in and around the program, most expect Luke to make his way into the two-deep depth chart almost immediately. While Bennett Jackson, KeiVarae Russell and Lo Wood seem to be a solid 1-2-3, after that Luke is just as likely to see the field as untested players like Josh Atkinson or Jalen Brown.

How the coaching staff expects to utilize nickel and dime packages will likely be determined by how prepared the youth infused into this secondary will be come late August. But there’s every belief that Luke is one of the more technically skilled prospects in this class, and he’s got pedigree for days.

While he’s not the biggest guy physically, you expect Luke to be ready athletically almost immediately, though whether he needs time to grow into college football like Eilar Hardy or immediately make an impact like KeiVarae Russell remains to be seen.


The sky is the limit for Luke. When you look at the opportunities that come after Bennett Jackson leaves the program, Luke has the opportunity to fight for a spot in the starting lineup — or defending in the slot — from the start, with the boundary cornerback job up for grabs in 2014.

There’s so much to like about Luke. The staff believes he’s a versatile cornerback, a guy that can play comfortably in a Cover 2 or walk up and play press man coverage. He’s got great football lineage, with his uncle Darren Woodson putting together a Pro Bowl and Super Bowl winning career as one of the most versatile defensive backs in football. Woodson helped guide Luke through the recruiting process, and as it’s happened with a lot of pro athletes’ family members, that’s come up golden for Notre Dame.

Still, projecting a cornerback’s career at Notre Dame hasn’t exactly been the easiest process. Elite recruits like Darren Walls and Gary Gray walked winding roads throughout their careers in South Bend, and “future stars” like Clifford Jefferson remind you how star rankings don’t always predict the future. But Luke is an immediate talent infusion to the cornerback position, and while guys like Devin Butler and Rashad Kinlaw have some learning to do, Luke comes in with a head start.


  1. mattymill - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Love the Irish’s future at CB with Luke teaming up with Russell in ’14’ & ’15’.

  2. andy44teg - Jul 10, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    A Clifford Jefferson reference??!! AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!

  3. tampabayirish - Jul 10, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    And he arrives in South Bend with a ready made nickname….Cool Hand.

  4. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 10, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    I had forgotten that he was Woodson’s nephew. Talk about a great football lineage, Woodson was, for several years, considered to be the most productive member of what many thought was the best defense in the NFL. And I say that as a Giants fan. Cole Luke has the nature, now let it be nurtured.

  5. fnc111 - Jul 10, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Why no mention of Ambrose Wooden? One play away from the 2005 national title game. Him and GG go down in the vomit category. I still think Gray is a closer Michigan fan.

  6. oldschoollyons - Jul 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Cole Luke does have talent and potential. Yet as his senior year progressed, some services downgraded his ratings. Keith, do you now if he was injured or if something else caused his ratings to drop?

  7. fnc111 - Jul 10, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Dont ever follow recruiting services. Boise St, Nebraska , Wisconsin, Kstate, etc…. Do just fine without moron star ratings.

    • notredameirish1980 - Jul 10, 2013 at 7:43 PM

      Using that criteria, you are a 5 star commentator.

  8. ndnapa - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Under Coach Elliott’s tutelage, Luke will be ready to play this year and star(t) in 2014. He and Redfield are too good to sit out this year.

  9. seanb20124 - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Darrin ( not Darren) Walls is an American football cornerback for the New York Jets of the National Football League. He was signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He played college football at Notre Dame.

  10. a68domer - Jul 12, 2013 at 7:23 AM

    The reason pro athletes’ family members are coming up golden for ND is that they know and understand the life(career) expectancy of a pro athlete. And there is nothing out there to help the athlete out in the “real world” like a Degree from ND. GO IRISH!!

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