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Freshman Focus: Max Redfield

Jul 22, 2013, 7:45 AM EST

Max Redfield

If you’re looking for one of the perks of an undefeated regular season, Max Redfield is it. The former USC commitment, one of the top safeties in the country, chose Notre Dame at the Under Armor All-American game, picking the Irish at a time where ND fans usually only bemoan the recruit that got away.

While the safety position has seen its depth chart fill in the past two recruiting cycles, it hasn’t seen a player of Redfield’s ilk, with the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder one of the top defensive backs the Irish have signed in a long time.

With offers from elite programs coast-to-coast, the size and speed to double as a deep threat wide receiver or centerfielder, Redfield walks onto campus as the wild card in the secondary, likely an immediate contender for playing time.

Let’s take a closer look at the Orange County star:

RECRUITING PEDIGREE

Nothing but blue-chip for Redfield, who Rivals ranked as the No. 2 player in the state of California, and one of the top 30 players in the country. Redfield had offers across the country, but took official visits to USC, Washington and Notre Dame, with the Irish eventually winning out for a player Brian Kelly couldn’t hide his excitement about.

“We think Max is an elite player,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “He’s a young man that has a specific skill set that could see him play offense, he could play defense, he’s going to play in that safety position for us, and we think he’s a young man that can come in and compete. He’s got all the athletic ability, and he’s a very smart young man.”

EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES

During spring drills, it looked as if the Irish were planning to go with Matthias Farley on the short side of the field and Elijah Shumate as the field safety. While guys like Nicky Baratti and Austin Collinsworth are going to have something to say about that when they are 100 percent healthy, so is Redfield.

Jumping into the starting lineup at safety isn’t easy — especially in a defense like Notre Dame’s, where quite a bit of pressure is heaped onto the back end defenders. That said, Redfield comes from one of Southern California’s elite prep programs at Mission Viejo, and he’s been playing in a system that should have him ready for the step up.

Don’t expect to see Redfield redshirt, and it’s already been hinted that he might end up moonlighting as a wide receiver, where he can utilize his sprinter speed, length and ball skills. For as surprising and positive of a season Farley had last season and as promising as Shumate is, there’s no athlete in the secondary that has a profile like Redfield’s. Whether he plays to that lofty reputation remains to be seen, but walking onto campus, that certainly is the expectation.

PROJECTING THE FUTURE

Redfield looks like the prototype free safety candidate — an athlete similar to Harrison Smith who can fly from sideline to sideline and punish receivers and running backs in equal order. The Irish staff thinks they landed the top safety in the country in Redfield. Now finding his way onto the field should be the interesting part.

It’s dangerous to assume anything about a player you haven’t seen, and star-ratings matter only until Signing Day. But Redfield enters a secondary where in 2014 Collinsworth, Eilar Hardy and Matthias Farley will be seniors (though Hardy and Farley are eligible for a fifth year). Behind them are guys like Chris Badger and John Turner, with Nicky Baratti an intriguing guy that was only out of the mix because of injury this spring. Bob Diaco has never been a guy to stick with just two starters, and playing a variety of safeties — especially employing them in nickel and dime personnel groups — could really be beneficial with this talented group.

If you’re truly looking into the crystal ball, a pairing of Redfield and Shumate could be the most talented the Irish have had in probably two decades. The staff is incredibly high on Shumate, and sliding him down closer to the line of scrimmage while allowing Redfield to roam the backline would get the two most talented players onto the field. Now whether they’re able to beat out guys like Farley and Collinsworth? We’ll find out in about 45 days.

  1. 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    I don’t want to overstate my optimism, but Max Redfield is going to be the best safety in ND history, also excel as an outside receiver, win the Heisman, Rookie of the Year in the NFL and someday we’ll be talking about how Charles Woodson was just an earlier version of Max Redfield.

    In all seriousness, I am looking forward to seeing this young man fly all over the field this year, whether that be on special teams, as a receiver or as a back-up safety. He is too big, too fast and too athletic to be kept on the sidelines and the only thing to keep him off the field is his ability to pick up the schematic side of things quickly. His speed makes me think back to the Louisville/Florida bowl game last year, and how it looked like I was watching the game in fast forward. Holtz used to say “speed kills” and with the team speed improving overall, it is a good sign for things to come.

    • nudeman - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      Speaking of Florida, you can’t beat the quality of the guys they bring in there.
      While Aaron Hernandez was sitting in a cell, charged with murder this weekend, there was this:

      http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/9496533/florida-gators-lb-antonio-morrison-arrested-barking-police-dog

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:15 AM

        Morrison’s recent run-ins with the law certainly suggest UF’s problem with institutional control continues even after Urban Meyer cut bait. While it has been said that “you can’t teach height” it also appears that you can’t cure stupid. If you’re the starting LB at a school like Florida and you can’t refrain from (1) punching out bouncers (for charging you full fare to enter the club, nonetheless) and/or (2) antagonizing a police dog (when there is a policeman nearby !) there is no hope for you.

      • nudeman - Jul 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        This has to be the first UF transgression for a LB barking at a dog.
        Can someone check?

      • onward2victory - Jul 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        4horse if you are suggesting that it is more of a UF problem than an Urban Meyer problem, then I beg to differ. They’re both equally bad at keeping players from getting arrested.

        http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/9499059/ohio-state-buckeyes-kick-rb-carlos-hyde-team-report-says

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 22, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        i wasn’t so much saying that UF is better or worse than it was with Meyer, just that it was bad with Meyer and it is still bad after Meyer. UF and Meyer seem to have this cloud around them that follows them like Pig Pen’s dirtcloud. not to bring up old sh!t, but that was part of the reason the TR arrest pissed me off so much (as did Floyd’s DUI, etc.) because in a small way it made ND look like its players were no different from the jokers that run around Gainseville, or Columbus, or (fill in the blank here) and often end up in the NFL pulling the same stunts they did in college.

      • papadec - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        Correct me if I’m wrong – isn’t fu where Alex Anzalone went?

      • nudeman - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM

        Yeah, but in his defense he doesn’t seem like that kind of guy. Dad is a doctor and kid is, if I recall correctly, legitimately academically inclined.

        Still … terrible decision. Kid must have a latent party streak in him.

        “Let’s see: ND vs. Florida? I’ll take Florida.
        (aka Catherine Zeta Jones vs. Honey Boo Boo)

  2. mattymill - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    I know it’s been said numerous times before, but I love the fact that 5-star studs like Redfield and Jaylon Smith are coming to campus without a starting slot being handed to them. It’s a good sign for the program that even the best freshmen in the country aren’t immediately needed to start Week 1. Go Irish!

  3. 1historian - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Remember the olden days when one of the big questions about BK was “can he recruit with the big boys?”

    Remember that?

  4. irishdodger - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I thought Collinsworth had a 5th year as well? I know he played as a true frosh, but Didn’t he medically redshirt last season?

    • 1historian - Jul 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      I can’t wait for the day when his dad has to comment from the booth on something his son did or didn’t do on the field.

      Actually I can, as in I really don’t have a choice, but you know what I mean.

  5. irishdog80 - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Given that last year, a converted WR/Athlete like Farley and a converted RB/Athlete like Russell were, out of necessity, able to make a quick transition to playing in the defensive backfield for the Irish, I have to believe that Redfield will be able to play from the get go. Farley did a great job last year, but there were a few games where he looked lost and/or overmatched athletically… not surprising for a converted WR that had not played that much football in high school. If Redfield is a legit 6’2″, 195 pounds with speed and the true instincts of a pure safety, he needs to play and play early. If we are going to beat Bama, we need more speed and athleticism on defense especially on the back end. With Jaylon Smith flying off of the edge of our stout d-line, there will be plenty of balls tossed up for the taking. I like the idea of the combo of Shumate and Redfield for the next three years with Farley and others providing able back up and nickel and dime coverage.

    Go Irish!

  6. gtizzo - Jul 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    He won’t see a down on defense. This kids is going to be receiver. I don’t care what he was recruited at, Kelly needs play makers on offense. Any player with serviceable speed and can catch has the potential to land on the offense. Redfield with be the next great receiver at Notre Dame.

  7. 25kgold - Jul 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Play the future NOW!!!! Redfield and Shumate are two first round quality D-Backs! Those two together will be game changers, and probably are going to be two “3-and-out” players for ND b/c they’re that good! We have to get the most out of them!

  8. bearcatirishfan - Jul 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Hey guys I don’t want to defend these other schools coaches, but a little bit of glass house lest we not forget Floyd and Rees Calabrese last year. It is nice to see some bad news come form other campuses or a change.

  9. 1historian - Jul 22, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Mr. Nude;

    Your 1:28 – Re. the moving tale of the Florida LB barking at a dog, concluding with your poignant plea – can someone check?

    (With all due respect) The lack of enthusiasm to your plea suggests that the next statement might be – does anyone care?

    With all due respect, sir, I remain your obedient servant,

    1Historian

    • papadec - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      1hist – I just don’t see you as nudes servant – or anyone else for that matter.

  10. 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 22, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    This wikipedia entry must have been edited by Meyer or by the sports information office at Ohio State:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_Meyer

    “Meyer has been criticized by some commentators because 31 of his players were arrested during his nearly six years as the Gators’ coach.[28][29] However, this record has not been shown to be significantly different than that of other major college football programs. In fact, since the hiring of Meyer’s replacement, Will Muschamp, the arrest record for the football program at the University of Florida has not improved, with at least 10 arrests in the two years since the beginning of the 2011 football season (9 months after he was named head coach), including at least 4 in the 2013 offseason [30].”

    Whoa. 31 in 6 years and 10 in the 2 years after Meyer left. So UF’s arrest rate is about 5/year and it is nothing if not consistent. You have to laugh at the statement that Myer’s tenure at UF is “not significantly different from other college programs” when the only other college program cited is UF AFTER Meyer left.

    • papadec - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:04 PM

      Perhaps they meant any other program in the state of Florida?

  11. joeschulz - Jul 22, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Hey, 4horsemenrideagain, I like your comment about Meyer and Muschamp; but think you didn’t go far enough. Aren’t half of Muschamp’s players holdovers from his predecessor? You’re right. If you’re going to compare Meyer to other coaches they should be other coaches in other programs. The real problem is that the two biggest recruiting programs in the recent past were USC and Florida. These two “led the league” in 5 star recruits for the same reasons, they selected based upon athletic talent and refused to be put off by “minor” off the field problems.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      can’t agree with you enough on your point.

      sure, ND has had its problems too, but the difference between UF, USC, Ohio State and many, many others is that ND’s trustees, faculty, alumni and supporters would not stand for 5 arrests per year for 8 straight years. heads would roll. ND’s base wouldn’t stand for a reggie bush scandal or a terrelle pryor scandal or a cam newton scandal. there is a saying that “you get what you tolerate.” if you are UF, Auburn, USC, Ohio State and you tolerate players who break rules and break the law, well then gosh, that’s what you’re going to get! 10+ win seasons and a police blotter filled up with guys on your roster.

      some say Floyd, Rees and Carlo got off too easy, and maybe they did when you consider what the expectation is of ND players. then again, compare the repercussions for these types of behavior at ND with that meted out at other schools like those cited above, and it’s clear that there is a different way of doing things.

      maybe ND’s expectations and academic standards will prevent it from ever winning another Nat’l championship again, but the only thing more disappointing than that would be to once again be a contender every year while averaging 5 players being arrested each year and have a GSR of less than 50%. that would be too great of a compromise.

      • brendanfitzgibbons - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:56 PM

        Sorry but I respectively disagree with you on this. I think Notre Dame fans and I am absolutely one of them are like all other fans and think their program is above and beyond everyone else’s. I echo with what bearcat said and think that the ND nation has had more than enough of it’s fair share of scandals the last four years, bearcat left out some things that we don’t have to harp on again. True ND is an exceptional institution but we are by no means perfect. I take issue with elitist thinking because it’s what leads to more scandals.

        I love the way Kelly has recruited and continues to recruit and hope that this year they make a concerted effort to keep this exceptional talent at ND. Yes we can argue that the recruits who have left ND weren’t fully committed to the program but it still stings losing them and everybody talks about beating Alabama well it starts by keeping players like Max Redfield at Notre Dame.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Aug 1, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        i never claimed perfection nor anything elitist, and if you can’t grasp the difference between ND’s “scandals” and the anarchy going on in Gainesville and other places, then wake up man! ND had a manager die in a tragic accident and some kids drinking underage and getting DUI(s). not to suggest DUI isn’t serious, but is a far cry from kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and the other myriad offenses that pop up on the blotter involving other team’s athletes. also, go back to my original comment where i noted that in my mind, Floyd, TR and Carlo maybe got off too easy.

  12. danirish - Jul 22, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Awhile ago I commented that hat the heck maybe we should just start these awesome true freshman. Bring out Zaire and Bryant, let them start – but that was on offense.

    On defense I almost want for Smith and Redfied to it to extend the talent. I already lose sleep at the thought of losing Tuitt ad Nix very soon. Of course if Redfied can light ‘em up returning punts then have at it!

  13. fnc111 - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Elite player. Someone ND has never seen come through its doors before.

    But it’ll be too tough to beat out Collinsworth lol? Just proves how overrated recruiting is.

    • irish4006 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      How overrated is it? Is it like saying, “fnc’s IQ is in high 90s”?

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