Jul 10, 2013, 1:29 PM EDT
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.
EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES
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.
PROJECTING THE FUTURE
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.
Aug 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
Brian Kelly was on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and the Irish head coach got his last weekend without a game started by chatting it up with the popular radio host. While Kelly didn’t make any headlines in the interview, he did conduct it from his desk with a Showtime crew hanging a boom mic over his head, part of life with a documentary film crew following him around.
Aug 28, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT
Just about everybody expects Harry Hiestand’s offensive line to be a dominant unit. But after months of preseason hype, they now need to prove they can do it.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
Ishaq Williams’ college football career is over. Notre Dame’s exiled defensive end, who sat out last season as part of a two-semester suspension for his role in the “frozen five” academic dishonesty investigation, has lost his NCAA appeal for reinstatement. Brian Kelly shared the news on Thursday after practice
Aug 27, 2015, 8:25 PM EDT
The votes are in and Notre Dame’s football team will be captained by five players. Graduate students Matthias Farley, Nick Martin and Joe Schmidt will be joined by senior Sheldon Day and junior Jaylon Smith as the captains of the 2015 Irish.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
It appears that the Greg Bryant era at Notre Dame is over. The junior running back, who was declared academically ineligible to play for the Irish this fall, has enrolled at ASA Miami, a junior college with a new football program run by former Irish assistant Ernest Jones.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
After two seasons of trying to find carries for a handful of emerging running backs, Notre Dame has the opposite problem: Trying to spread out a growing workload among a smaller, highly-differentiated position group.
Aug 26, 2015, 1:56 PM EDT
With the season right around the corner and preseason camp finished, it’s time to get our final preparations done before the games start counting and the journey begins. We spent the summer pumping out tens of thousands of words on Notre Dame’s evolving roster, so if you’re looking for 50 hours of easy reading, check out the Irish A-to-Z series.
Aug 26, 2015, 12:42 PM EDT
Have a final question before we have actual football to talk about? Today’s the day. Drop them below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Aug 25, 2015, 5:06 PM EDT
Notre Dame announced a number of enhancements to Notre Dame Stadium on Tuesday. Most notable among them, a video board that’ll go atop the south end zone.
Aug 25, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Our final installment of the A-to-Z series is perhaps our most important one. Because Notre Dame’s fate is in the hands of quarterback Malik Zaire.
Aug 24, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
With the injury to freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford, an unlikely candidate has emerged as the frontrunner for the No. 3 cornerback job: Devin Butler. The junior, who struggled mightily at times last season after he was forced into action, looked to have lost his grip on that spot this spring after strong work by sophomore Nick Watkins.
Aug 24, 2015, 12:27 PM EDT
No freshman will be tossed into the deep end quicker than kicker Justin Yoon. Essentially Notre Dame’s sole option to kick field goals in 2015, Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff are putting a ton of the shoulders of a true freshman, who’ll be asked to fix a three-point operation that went haywire down the stretch after the Irish’s all-time field goal leader Kyle Brindza lost his mojo.
Aug 23, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
When Brandon Wimbush enrolled in school this summer, he became the latest blue-chip quarterback to join the Notre Dame football program with the burden of great expectations. The New Jersey state player of the year, Wimbush would be wise to forget about the prep accolades, instead focusing his efforts on learning the playbook, with the third-string quarterback closer to the field than you’d ideally want.
Aug 21, 2015, 12:12 PM EDT
Keith Gilmore’s move to Notre Dame reunites him with Brian VanGorder, two football lifers who have known each other since they shared a huddle as players. After a long coaching career, Gilmore also reunites with Brian Kelly, a coach he’s worked for at Grand Valley, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and now Notre Dame.
Aug 21, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Notre Dame landed another Indianapolis product when safety Mykelti Williams joined the Irish this summer, the freshman lending some much needed depth to the secondary. Hailing from Warren Central, the same program that brought Notre Dame Sheldon Day, Williams’ might not contribute as quickly as Day did, but he’ll have a chance to compete for a spot in the two deep behind Max Redfield at free safety.
Aug 20, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
With Notre Dame’s running back depth chart down Greg Bryant, freshman Dexter Williams has a clear line to the football field this fall. While wide receiver Justin Brent has converted to the backfield and Tarean Folston returns as a starter, Williams and fellow freshman Josh Adams couldn’t ask for a more advantageous situation, especially with C.J. Prosise taking time to heal an ailing hip flexor.
Aug 20, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT
Don’t talk to KeiVarae Russell anymore about his suspension. He’s not all that interested. He discussed it with Sports Illustrated, he discussed it at the opening of training camp and he continued to answer questions about it on Media Day.
Aug 19, 2015, 10:13 PM EDT
Talented freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford tore his ACL at practice on Wednesday and is lost for the season. Brian Kelly made the announcement Wednesday night via the sports information department.
Aug 19, 2015, 1:49 PM EDT
As part of a talented group of freshman defensive backs, Ashton White has made his presence felt on campus quickly, joining Shaun Crawford and Nick Coleman in their attack on the depth chart. Another cornerback with good length and athleticism, White’s career begins as the freshman class looks to make an unlikely imprint on the 2105 season.
Aug 19, 2015, 4:03 AM EDT
It was the standard Media Day dog-and-pony show in South Bend on Tuesday, with national reporters descending on Notre Dame to pay proper respects to the Irish football program, all while likely wondering if this is indeed “the year.” And perhaps it’s because Brian Kelly already delivered a lengthy state of the union address to open camp—or more likely—because he’s already sick of talking about the enhanced expectations for his sixth team, Tuesday afternoon felt like a redundancy that coaches and players alike wanted to put in the rearview mirror.