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Irish A-to-Z: Max Redfield

Aug 12, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

Oklahoma v Notre Dame Oklahoma v Notre Dame

What a difference a year makes. For sophomore safety Max Redfield, football is a complete 180, finding his place in the starting lineup after spending 2013 buried on the depth chart. That was hardly the expectation for Redfield when he signed his letter of intent with the Irish, giving Notre Dame a safety that should’ve woken the echoes of Harrison Smith.

But most forget that Smith spent his freshman season watching and learning, preserving a year of eligibility before playing two mostly mediocre seasons before Brian Kelly came to town. With Bob Diaco off to UConn and Brian VanGorder’s scheme a perfect fit for Redfield’s skillset, the Irish have a young, emerging playmaker on the backend of their defense.

Let’s take a closer look at the Irish’s starting free safety.


6’1″ 198 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 10



One of the top players in the state of California, Redfield was committed to USC before he flipped to Notre Dame in January, making the decision public at the Under Armour All-American game. A five-star recruit, Redfield was a three-sport standout at Mission Viejo High, an Orange County powerhouse.

With great length as a wideout and the ability to star as both a centerfielder and someone who could bring the hammer as a free safety, Kelly had a hard time hiding his excitement on Signing Day when he introduced Redfield.

“We think Max is an elite player,” Kelly said. “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.”



Played in 12 games, making a start in the Pinstripe Bowl. Made 12 tackles on the season, including three against BYU and Air Force.



Redfield’s best football is in front of him. And after a humbling freshman season that saw Redfield struggle to crack Bob Diaco’s lineup, the sophomore didn’t mince words.

“I was devastated,” Redfield told Irish Illustrated’s Tim Prister. “I would be the first one to tell you that. It was hard to stay motivated throughout the year.

“I felt like I was trying to do everything I could to get on the field, but we continued to make some mistakes because the defense was so detailed and so in-depth. It was very frustrating.”

Those frustrations are gone. So is the lack of motivation. Redfield met with the local media over the weekend, and while his head coach is doing everything he can to take pressure off of him, Redfield is asking to carry the load from the backend.

That means making the play calls and being the quarterback of the defense. All part of being an elite safety, something Redfield has the tools to be.

At a position where a mistake could mean six points, confidence needs to be matched with accountability. But when it comes to athleticism, speed and ability to cover ground and make hits, Redfield gives the Irish an athlete on the backend that should have fans excited.



Count me among the believers in Redfield, who should put up big numbers roaming center field for VanGorder’s defense. If cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell, Cole Luke and Cody Riggs are capable of holding strong in coverage, Redfield is going to be the beneficiary of plenty of misdirected passes, with receivers rubbed off their routes and timing interrupted.

That said, one of the tenets of a Brian Kelly defense is a disdain for giving up big plays. And ultimately Redfield will be the Irish’s last line of defense, with the responsibilities of being the man over the top and ultimately understanding all that’s going on.

After struggling with the transition to the college game and a complex system, one listen to Redfield assures you those worries are gone and his confidence is back. We’ll see if that short memory continues when things break down on the field, but for now the Irish have the makings of a young star at safety.



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
Will Fuller
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
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Romeo Okwara
James Onwualu
C.J. Prosise
Anthony Rabasa
Doug Randolph

  1. goirishgo - Aug 12, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Outstanding safety play enables risk taking at the line of scrimmage. Here’s hoping Redfield and company provide the opportunity for LBs and CBs to play as aggressively as VBG’s scheme seems to require.

    So many opportunities for young players to step up this year!

  2. longliveautrydenson - Aug 12, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Crazy what a difference two years makes in college football. We went from having a dominant front 7 and little proven talent in the secondary in 2012, to a potentially dominant secondary with only two proven playmakers in the front 7 this year. I can’t wait to see what Russell, Redfield, Luke, Riggs, Butler and (hoepfully) Shumate do this year. Although if we can’t get a consistent pass rush all that talent may go to waste.

    • mattymill - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      1st things 1st – love your screen name. I’ve always heard the notion that a solid D starts with your front 7, and honestly believe it. That being said, I was reading an article about how Nick Saban is such a defensive architect and he likes to build his dominant D from the back in — which is obvious considering Bama sends a 1st round DB to the NFL seemingly every year. I would say Saban knows a thing or two about building great defenses, which makes me breath a bit easier considering ND’s strength this year is definitely on the back end. Go Irish!

      • longliveautrydenson - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        Lol thanks for the love, Autry is and always will be my favorite ND player. I like your point about Bama building from the back end. Just about everyone and their sister runs some form of the spread offense now, putting a premium on DBs and OLBs that can play man coverage. The only problem is we play such a diverse schedule that we’re bound to get exposed with a thin front seven, particularly against Stanford. Let’s just hope that we see some major development from the young guys on the D-line over the first few games. Crazier things have happened.

  3. seadomer - Aug 12, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    So our D is weaker in front this year on paper. Hopefully the pattern of winning will be to score more and hope the other team starts throwing in desperation and we get turnovers to seal the deal.
    If anyone can pass this along to the D, please do not let decent Qbs look like Heisman contenders and make the Heisman winner look normal.

    • nudeman - Aug 12, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      If I was playing ND and had a decent OL and a good RB I’d just pound it all day long.
      The DL might develop and be better than we think, but right now in August that appears to be the formula. Thank God Gaffney is gone.

      • jommy995 - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        Only works if you can keep the score close. ND goes up 14, you couldn’t afford to run the clock.

      • nudeman - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Of course. And there are a dozen other variables here too.

        Just sayin’ …
        … all other things being equal, that’s not a bad approach vs. ND assuming you have that type of talent. Get down by 14 or 21 and like BK you throw it all over the place (preferably with a QB who can play the game)

      • domer77blowsgoats - Aug 12, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        something not surprising about nude wanting a RB to pound it all day long

        thanks nude for this brilliant game plan and giving our opponents the road map to beat us, hope they don’t read this board in search of such amazing football IQ

      • nudeman - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        “giving our opponents a roadmap to beat us”

        Yes, I can just see Sarkisian getting the report now from Keith Arnold’s site with this breaking news.

        Man, your slipping. Your stuff is not nearly as toxic as usual.
        You OK?

      • domer77blowsgoats - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        I’m slipping…? it was sarcasm my man, wow…

      • 1historian - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Given your handle (snark snark) I would be more circumspect about statements like “I’d just pound it all day long.”

        Snark snark

    • jommy995 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      Hope I didn’t sound disagreeable, Nude. Just sayin I’m happy that’s the game plan you’d recommend. I wish teams had been afraid to throw it on us in the past. Also seems to correspond nicely with our scheduling move away from the B1G. I’m not afraid of this year’s UM or PU offensive lines.

  4. seadomer - Aug 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Malik for Heisman !!!!!!!! …..too soon?
    If Texas AM and FSU have their winners …. Exhale….. We can have one too

  5. irishdog80 - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    We looked so slow at LB…other than Smith and sometimes, Fox…and in the Secondary last year, I will never understand why an elite athlete like Redfield spent so much time on the bench. Speed makes up for a lot of mistakes and Redfield would have learned a ton last year on the job. No matter, we have him now and it will be fun to watch him lock down the back of our defense. I view sticking with Farley over playing Redfield as an indictment of Diaco’s defensive philosophy.

    • ndgoldandblue - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Farley had been having a bad season, but the tipping point from bad to terrible happened when he appeared to dive out of the way of Tyler Gaffney on that touchdown run. Let’s hope Redfield isn’t afraid of contact.

      • nudeman - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        I don’t remember that (but don’t doubt it), but what I DO remember was him being out of position when Stanford threw a TD pass from inside the 10. Someone to his left (Collinsworth? Russell?) was waving at him furiously before the ball was snapped trying to get him in the right spot. Didn’t work and it was a pass I could have completed.

        But the quintessential Farley moment came much earlier against Michigan when he was one of about 5 ND guys who crashed into Gallon and bounced off on that ridiculous TD play.

        I like Farley as a guy; he’s extremely well read and spoken – something of a renaissance man. But I just don’t think he is starting DB material at this level.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        Did you see the last practice video? That kid hits like a ton of bricks. Didn’t appear to be afraid to clean up the play after the CB fell down.

      • alwayspositive11 - Aug 12, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        I agree with Nudeman about Mathias Farley being well read and well spoken, and did you see him after he shaved his face last year? With those dimples and that smile, I thought I was in love. Football isnt a beauty pageant however. If it were, Tim Tebow would still be playing in the NFL.

      • irishdog80 - Aug 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        Farley did indeed jump the shark in the Michigan game with inklings of his issues in several games in 2012. Why not play the 5star Safety from California that every program wanted? Sure he will make some mistakes, but he will only get better and his speed will make up for some of the mistakes he makes.

        From all reports, Farley is a class act and has an important role on this team but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that he is not the speediest guy on the field. Maybe Redfield doesn’t like high speed contact. We will soon find out.

        I do know that you truly find out what you have when you play against the best. Plenty of athletes have had good careers by being stars against the bad and the average teams. We need more guys on the field that show their best against the best. I think we are getting closer and this year will be the tipping point.

      • nudeman - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:39 PM

        If Matthias is anything more than a nickel back then the D backfield is in trouble
        It’s that simple

      • getsome99 - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:10 AM

        “But I just don’t think he is starting DB material at this level.”

        Wow! One of the all time dumbest things to ever be said on this board.

        In 2012, Farley was a starting DB for one of the best defenses in college football history. On an undefeated team even.

  6. 25kgold - Aug 12, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    The Notre Dame “roll-over” Irish days are done!! Opposing fan bases won’t chuckle anymore when they see us on their schedule, even if they’re favored to win. There’s a legit chance we win every game–no more luck!

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 12, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      We still need luck. Needed it for the run in 2012 and we’ll need it this year if we hope to make a run. Remember 2011? That was the year that everything went against us. Close calls, fumbles, etc. In 2011 we were short on talent and long on bad luck. 2012 we had some talent and were long on good luck. I’d love this year to see plenty of both, talent and good luck and we’ll see what happens.

      • dwp1991 - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        No doubt you need luck to go undefeated in the crazy world of college football. See Auburn last year. Undoubtedly very talented, but needed some crazy bounces along the way.

  7. seadomer - Aug 12, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Also, please start training the backups for the navy game. I really wanna full strength to the end.

  8. simmel65 - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    Yes, I would love a 12-0 run like the next guy, but what I would most like Notre Dame to do is to start dominating the Rices, Purdue, and Syracuse’s of the schedule. Then guys like Zaire and others can play in the 2nd half and gain experience.

    Things snowball from there. Starters get their minutes and will play the entire game against FSU, USC, Stanford, etc, and the backups gain experience, enthusiasm etc.

    Hopefully a more aggressive offense and defense do that.

    If we don’t win them all I would rather it be a season where we gain a ton of playing time for all and are competitive in the big games. We are a really young team with almost everyone coming back next year (assuming no early NFL defections) and I think ND can have a really special season in 2015.

  9. hui73 - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Keith, I think you mean “tenets” and not “tenants”. Just trying to give you an advantage over your “spell-checker”. Thank you for your work. I remain an avid reader.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      i saw that too, but I just put a little whiteout on my computer screen and corrected it myself.

      • Keith Arnold - Aug 12, 2014 at 8:45 PM

        Funny that the spellcheck corrected it, when I had it right to begin with… Fixed. Thanks, team.

    • 1historian - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      I, sir, am a spell checker.

      I flatter myself that I do not overindulge in what is a pleasurable way to spend some time, and when I do so I try to do so in a pleasant fashion. I tend to let the little ones go but now and then something spectacular or something approaching spectacular happens and I step in. I try to be pleasant but I am operating on the assumption that the majority of the posters on this site are graduates of the University of Notre Dame, and as such should know how to spell.

      Is that asking too much? Shirley not.

      Now, thanks to you, I have exhausted my meager supply of big words for the day.

      Therefore I am going to take the dog for a walk down the dirt road with woods on both sides whereupon he can perform his daily ablutions and I might indulge myself in a bit of soil-watering whilst conetmplating:

      16 AND A WAKEUP!!

      I bid you all a good day.

      • onward2victory - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        *contemplating. #ironic

        I would disagree that the majority of the posters are ND grads. There are just way too many subway domers out there like myself, although we should still expect quality, intelligent posts.

      • 1historian - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        onward – your 11:17 post. I just assumed it. (Ass – u- me) but whatever.

        I just looked at my post and I have discovered a new way of spelling the word ‘contemplating’.


    • 1historian - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      Both words are spelled correctly

  10. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 12, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    USC will have a better year than us this year.

    • papadec - Aug 12, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      Who would the “us” be johnny? Which sec team are you referring to?

  11. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    The last big request I have before the Jumbo Tron is stop the insanity with the Commercials on NBC. Notre Dame has more commercials than any game on ESPN or CBS. How in the hell are we suppose to run an uptempo offense when there is a commercial every 4th play.

    • papadec - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      Take this issue up with NBC – it’s not a ND call. They probably need the advertising revenue to pay for Keith’s obscene salary – or what he wishes it was. Seriously, for all the people that claim that ND is irrelevant – why would NBC negotiate a big, exclusive contract with ND & advertisers pay NBC to air their commercials during the ND games, if ND were so irrelevant?

      • jommy995 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:36 PM

        First, I accidentally “reported” above comment, whatever that means. Sorry, Papa, if the internet police come get you.

        Second, let’s give props to JohnG for his first ever valid contribution to the discussion here. It is an oppressive number of commercials, and it doesn’t jive with the intents and purposes of an up tempo offense. (Whatever that has to do with Max Redfield. But he’s certainly not alone in straying from the topic at hand.)

        Third, I can’t agree that ND is powerless in this negotiation. I think the university has to take equal blame with the network. But hey, as I get older, I’m more and more grateful for more time in the restroom. Sometimes, when you get off to a slow start, the extra three minutes really helps.

      • papadec - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:39 AM

        995 – not to worry – I’ve accidentally done the same thing. When you get to be my age – there’s a TV in the vanity, close to the main TV viewing area.

      • 1historian - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        I know I promised to take the dog for a walk but I lied – I feel a bit torn saying this, but if (when) the commercials on NBC get too long one can always jump to CBS, which usually shows SEC games.

        HELP – I feel as if I am doing JG’s work FOR him.

        BTW, JG – I do agree with you. Those ads are a serious pip (pain in posterior).

        Please give my best to Rag and Frank when you see them. The movie comes out next month.

  12. irishmob89 - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    Another fragile U$C blue chip recruit out with a knee injury. Get well soon Jabari Ruffin, at least you have your recruiting rating to hang your hat on. “Another one bites the dust”.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:45 PM

      Talking about biting the dust 2 more ND NFL players out for injury. We suck in the NFL.

  13. irishmob89 - Aug 12, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    What goes around comes around. John always has smartass remarks about Notre Dame players getting hurt like Torii Hunter and Kapron Lewis-Moore, and now one of his beloved blue chip recruit Trojan$ are hurt. Karma.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 12, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      I do have to say Clauson looked great with the BEARS.

      • irishmob89 - Aug 12, 2014 at 9:55 PM

        “We” suck in the NFL? I take it you mean the SEC, and yes, I agree. Trent Richardson among other SEC players are underachieving right now. And at least Jimmy Clausen has a job. Like you, Matt Leinart is unemployed. He probably trolls the internet all day like you do loser.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 12, 2014 at 9:58 PM

        Mob you have so much to learn about football.

      • jommy995 - Aug 12, 2014 at 10:39 PM

        JohnG, valid point #2! I hafta quit hatin.

  14. yaketyyacc - Aug 13, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    Redfied Another reason to smile. No doubt he will achieve good results in 2014. Perseverance is a great quality. Edison did over a 1000 experiments before inventing the light bulb. When everyone told Ed Sorin to quit after the new Main building burned down just after being open two weeks, his reply, we are going to build a bigger building with a Golden Dome and statue of Our Lady on it. Redfield and Notre Dame, a great fit.

  15. irishwilliamsport - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    I don’t get why Collinsworth is a starter, all I see in games, the spring game and in practice clips is him getting beat and missing tackles. Redfield should have played last year without a doubt and I don’t know why we’re not hearing Shumate’s name at all mentioned for playing time.

    The defense is going to surprise this year, there wasn’t a lot of production from Shembo, Nix or Tuitt last year or Calabrese, Fox played well. Despite them leaving there is a lot of depth with all the young guys and size. When they go with Grace, Council and Smith at LB, there’s a lot of size there also to battle Stanford.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      The Defense will be very similar to year 2 but with not as much talent. That is the biggest problem with Notre Dame is they cannot recruit enough of the Tuitts and Nix of the country in order to keep the machine rolling. Normally if this was USC ot Texas they would get through the first few years of a new coach but come year 3 the team would be playing well very similar to ND. Difference is they would have talent to replace nix and Tuitt while we have to start over from ground 0… Its either we have a great offense or great defense but we never have both at the same time. Defense goes a longer way than offene as seen in 2012 – A very lucky year.. This year is gonna be all about trying to outscore the other team. Add the schedule and you have a 8 win season. You have to build depth with blue chip players or you are screwed.

      • jommy995 - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        Disagree, JG. The seven-minute commercial breaks let you rest your thin first team. A strong offense keeps your D off the field and energized. We don’t need no stinking depth.

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        I bet any of you that we beat Rice by less than 7 points.. We lose to Michigan, and win the next two. Lost to Stanford, Florida State, UNC and USC… Meltdown in action everyone calls for Brian K head. So much for his recruiting. Rinse and repeat hoping we can land some top defensive talent like Nix and Tuitt. Saban wins his 7th NC in the SEC and Notre Dame fans talk about how Star rankings don’t matter. Lose to Texas you get the picture…

      • irishdog80 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        I will take the Rice bet. Also, Saban’s 7th NC? What are you even talking about? Either take your medications or less of them.

      • irishdog80 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Better yet, since money is not likely to be involved in your bet for the Rice-ND Game, if ND wins by more than 7 points against Rice you and Paul Hargis agree to never post on here again. Of course, you will likely come back with another hackneyed name that will ultimately be revealed by your strident writing style.

  16. zorichmidriff - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    cannot agree more w/ simmel65… yes, dominate the teams we are supposed to, and take it to the ones we’re not supposed to. play tough. play w/ enthusiasm. shock us this yr, please…

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