Matthias Farley

Irish A-to-Z: Matthias Farley


After stepping into a key role during 2012, many expected Matthias Farley to be the next big thing at safety for the Irish. But an up-and-down season in 2013 has Farley changing positions again, heading to cornerback in Brian VanGorder’s new defensive scheme.

After starting his career as a redshirt wide receiver, Farley’s found a home on the defensive side of the ball. But will the move outside (or maybe inside to the slot) help reboot the senior’s career and get him playing more consistent football?

Let’s spend a little time breaking down Matthias Farley.


5’11”, 204-lbs.
Senior, No. 41




One of the true off-the-radar prospects that Notre Dame took early in Brian Kelly’s tenure, Farley intrigued the Irish staff as an extremely raw athlete that had only been playing football for two years. He only garnered three stars from recruiting services and had mostly regional offers, but Kelly and the Irish staff saw something immediately in Farley and area recruiter Mike Elston got a pledge from him early in the cycle.

On Signing Day, Kelly talked about the versatility to Farley’s skill-set, which we are seeing play out four years later.

Extremely gifted young man…If there’s one guy in the skill group that physically, when he walks in here, he looks like a college football player,” Kelly said. “He’s a young man that can play extremely versatile. Can play at the corner position, the safety position. He can play wide receiver. We’ll kind of sort that out as we move forward… He’s been at this two years. So we’ll get a young man that is just starting to learn how to play the game.”



Freshman Season (2011): Did not see action as a reserve wide receiver. Redshirted.

Sophomore Season (2012): Moved to safety. Played in all 13 games, starting 11 after Jamoris Slaughter suffered a season-ending injury. Moved ahead of fifth-year safety Dan McCarthy during training camp. Chipping in 49 total tackles for the Irish, playing through a hand injury. Made nine stops in the victory over USC.

Junior Season (2013): Played in all 13 games, starting only eight at safety. Made 49 tackles and two interceptions from his safety position. Had eight tackles against both Stanford and Navy. His interceptions were against Michigan State and Arizona State.



For those that have begun to throw dirt on Farley’s grave after the position switch, it might be a hair early. For as much as Farley might have struggled at times playing a pure safety role in 2013, forcing some leverage into his game at cornerback might be the best thing for him.

There’s no questioning Farley’s athleticism and physicality. But playing in open space wasn’t his strong suit, and lining up in the slot and playing “outside-in,” as Brian Kelly called it, might do a world of good.

Finding his way back on to the field could be a challenge, and Farley won’t always look good in man coverage. But he’s played a lot of good football for Notre Dame, and has the athleticism you want from a versatile piece of the secondary. With two seasons left of eligibility, his final two will be more productive than the first.



There is a lot of talent in the Irish secondary. Max Redfield is expected to take charge of the free safety job, giving Notre Dame more of your prototype safety. Cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell, Cody Riggs and Cole Luke all look the part as well. Throw in Farley and veteran Austin Collinsworth and you’ve got six guys that should play a lot of football. (And Devin Butler will demand a look as well.)

No, Farley didn’t play all that well last season. But remember, Harrison Smith was a dog after two seasons before he turned into a first rounder. Not saying that Farley is on the same path, but he’s a guy that can help the Irish win and will play a ton of snaps. And leaving 2013 in the rearview mirror will be good for him.

At his best, Farley’s a player that embraces big collisions and feels comfortable near the line of scrimmage, and isn’t bad in coverage. Letting VanGorder find the right schemes and situations for Farley to thrive in is a promising situation that’ll likely trigger a bounce-back season for one of the Irish’s brightest student-athletes.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer




Even amidst chaos, Kelly expecting USC’s best

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rocky Hayes, Blaise Taylor

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was fired on Monday, with interim head coach Clay Helton taking the reins of the Trojan program during tumultuous times. Helton will be the fourth different USC head coach to face Notre Dame in as many years, illustrative of the chaos that’s shaken up Heritage Hall in the years since Pete Carroll left for the NFL.

All eyes are on the SC program, with heat on athletic director Pat Haden and the ensuing media circus that only Los Angeles can provide. But Brian Kelly doesn’t expect anything but their best when USC boards a plane to take on the Irish in South Bend.

While the majority of Notre Dame’s focus will be inward this week, Kelly did take the time on Sunday and Monday to talk with his team about the changes atop the Trojan program, and how they’ll likely impact the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh.

“We talked about there would be an interim coach, and what that means,” Kelly said. “Teams come together under those circumstances and they’re going to play their very best. And I just reminded them of that.”

While nobody on this Notre Dame roster has experienced a coaching change, they’ve seen their share of scrutiny. The Irish managed to spring an upset not many saw coming against LSU last year in the Music City Bowl after a humiliating defeat against the Trojans and amidst the chaos of a quarterbacking controversy. And just last week, we saw Charlie Strong’s team spring an upset against arch rival Oklahoma when just about everybody left the Longhorns for dead.

“I think you look at the way Texas responded this past weekend with a lot of media scrutiny,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I expect USC to respond the same way, so we’re going to have to play extremely well.”

Outside of the head coaching departure, it’s difficult to know if there’ll be any significant difference between a team lead by Sarkisian or the one that Helton will lead into battle. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has been at USC for six years, and has already held the title of interim head coach when he led the Trojans to a 2013 Las Vegas Bowl title after Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron left the program after he wasn’t given the full time position.

Helton will likely call plays, a role he partially handled even when Sarkisian was on the sideline. The defense will still be run by Justin Wilcox. And more importantly, the game plan will be executed by a group of players that are among the most talented in the country.

“They have some of the finest athletes in the country. I’ve recruited a lot of them, and they have an immense amount of pride for their program and personal pride,” Kelly said. “So they will come out with that here at Notre Dame, there is no question about that.”

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.