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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, Luke embodies the personnel Brian VanGorder’s been given to work with: Young and unproven, but undoubtedly talented.

The former blue-chip recruit who chose Notre Dame over schools like Texas, Oklahoma and USC, Luke came to campus with a reputation as a great technical cornerback will advanced cover skills. We’ll get a much better idea if that reputation was earned in 2014.

Irish A-to-Z continues with Cole Luke.



5’11”, 190 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 3



A Top 150 player, Luke was widely regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the country. The Arizona native took official visits to Oklahoma and Texas before choosing Notre Dame, a sentence you don’t often write.

Playing his high school football at Arizona powerhouse Hamilton, Luke played for former Notre Dame quarterback Steve Belles, who head coach Brian Kelly credited on Signing Day. And while the Irish have had a hard time holding elite skill players like Luke all the way until Signing Day, Luke stayed firm in his commitment.

“We’ve got a great relationship with Coach Belles, a former Notre Dame player here, and just a great fit,” Kelly said. “When Cole came up in the summer, recruited by virtually everybody in the country, I remember when we were talking about this, that he called and kind of had a soft commit.  In other words, he called and said, I think I’m going to commit, but what I want to do is I want to be able to say that a couple of times and I want to see how it feels.  So I think this was maybe on a Tuesday, and he said I’ll call you back on Saturday.  So we’re waiting all week, how does it sound, Cole, sound good?  Do you like saying that you’re committed to Notre Dame?  And finally he called us back a week later and said, ‘Coach, I’m all in.'”



Freshman Season (2013): Played in all 13 games, making 15 total tackles. Broke up two passes. Made six tackles against Air Force.



There’s a reason why Luke was one of the top cornerbacks in the country coming out of high school. And the Irish coaching staff doesn’t seem to have too much of a worry about Luke sliding into the starting lineup (or a heavy dose of playing time as the team’s third corner) as Notre Dame replaces former captain Bennett Jackson.

We’ll see what Luke truly has as a cover corner this season, as Brian VanGorder’s scheme employs a whole lot of man coverage for cornerbacks. That should work well for Luke, who was seen as a great technician coming out of high school. But with the schedule the Irish play, he’ll need to have a short memory and plenty of confidence to succeed as a sophomore.



Getting a read on the Irish cornerbacks is tricky. After all, we’ve got people talking about KeiVarae Russell as one of the elite corners in college football… and that’s after we all saw him get routinely dusted by Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon last year, a seventh-round draft pick.

Right now the position looks like a strength on the roster, but that’s after seeing this personnel group playing mostly Cover 2 under Diaco, not the most athletically demanding version of the position.

One thing that seems fairly certain right now is that Luke’s going to see the field a lot. Whether it’s starting opposite Russell or playing as a third corner, responsibility will be heaped on Luke’s shoulders after surviving a freshman season without getting exposed.

But he’s going to have to compete. Devin Butler should be healthy after sitting out spring after shoulder surgery. Reports from the summer have freshman corner Nick Watkins looking very ready to contribute. Matthias Farley has shifted to the position, adding some physicality to the position as well.

On paper, this is the type of personnel that exists on championship-level squads. And Luke looks like the type of young talent that embodies that depth.




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
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard


  1. shaunodame - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    Cole Luke was the best CB we landed during the Diaco era. (Russell and Jackson were recruited as a RB and WR, respectfully) I hope he lives up to that potential. He will be a much more valuable assest in Van Gorder’s new defense without a doubt. Bright future ahead for Cole!

  2. bernhtp - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    Cole is very good but I bet he gets pushed by Nick Watkins. The defensive backfield is getting strong and deep.

  3. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    an army of dbs… I. love it

  4. onward2victory - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Does anyone on the roster have a more natural nickname than “Cole Hand Luke”??

  5. papadec - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    I expect Cole to make 1, or 2, key game changing plays that will make the difference between a Win or a Loss this season. Hopefully one of those plays is vs fsu.

  6. yaketyyacc - Jul 21, 2014 at 5:01 AM

    if Romulus and remus were raised by a wolf, and ended by founding Rome, then we can expect great things from Luke raised by an Arizona roadrunner.

  7. bernhtp - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    The depth in DBs and LBs should help our anemic kick coverage teams.

  8. johngaltisspeaking - Jul 21, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Our special teams is on the level of Pop Warner Football. There is no excuse for it other than BK being a big east coach and not knowing how to implement it.

  9. rocket1988 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    John gait is a moron. Anybody can see that our special teams has not cost us a game. And you know nothing about the game of football. BTW, Darren Woodson is Cole’s uncle. Nice pedigree. Lastly, John is really Ty Willingham

    • johngaltisspeaking - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      Yeah you’re right next time Notre Dame fumbles the ball and our players stand around thinking its a dead ball is the day Brian K gets his ass canned from the school. 100 percent unacceptable ! You don’t even see elementary football players doing that BS. Lou Holtz would have had a talk to the team about that one and I would imagine they would still be running… But what do you expect we have a Big East Coach with a way over inflated record.

    • keelio19 - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:46 AM

      Johngaltisspeaking is obviously not a fan favorite on this board, due to his negativism towards ND football, I get that. But Rocket, how can you claim special teams hasn’t cost us any games since BK’s era. Look, I’m all BK, but he has obviously overlooked the special teams aspect of this game and it HAS cost us games. Field position is a huge part of this game, and if you think averaging less than 2 yards in back to back to back to back to back seasons on punt returns is not an issue or hasn’t cost us a game in some shape or form then you’re as much of a moron as John is.

  10. njnapa - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Luke will be an AA and a top draft pick in 3 years. Best natural CB on the team. Can’t wait to see him play this year.

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