For Irish safety Avery Sebastian, a sixth season is a rare opportunity to make an impact after a star-crossed career. Sebastian, who came to Notre Dame as a graduate transfer and lasted less than a game before suffering a season-ending foot injury in 2015, now needs to find a way to get through a full season healthy and find a niche as a physical, downhill safety.
That could be in sub-packages. That could be as a building block on special teams.
After spending four years at Cal and another season at Notre Dame, we’re still not quite sure what the Irish have. But as a veteran in a young secondary, Sebastian is an intriguing piece if he’s able to stay on the field.
5’10”, 200 lbs.
Grad Student, No. 8, S
A four-star recruit, Sebastian was ranked as high as the No. 6 safety in the country by ESPN. An All-State player in the state of Georgia, he was listed at No. 8 on the Rivals national list of “top 10 headhunters,” before picking Cal.
He was a US Army All-American Bowl participant and played for the USA U-19 National team.
Freshman Season (2011): Played in 12 games off the bench for Cal, a key special teams cog. Made nine total tackles, with a season-high four against Arizona State.
Sophomore Season (2012): Played in 11 games, making four starts at safety. Honorable Mention All-Pac 12 for his special teams work. Made 56 tackles, fifth on the team, adding 1.5 TFLs.
Junior Season (2013): Started the season opener at safety, making 10 tackles and an interception before a season-ending injury.
Senior Season (2014): Played in seven games with a start. Made 21 tackles on the season, including seven against Stanford.
Fifth Year (2015): Appeared against Texas in the season opener before an injury ended his season. Qualified for a sixth season with a medical redshirt.
WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR
What happens when the insurance policy gets injured?
Consider Sebastian an insurance policy, and I’m guessing he’ll be a fixture on every run team on special teams. Don’t be surprised if he also finds a role in some third down packages, or perhaps as a in-the-box safety against run-heavy opponents.
Sebastian feels like the logical backup to Elijah Shumate, though Tranquill will certainly have something to say about that. But with a gap between the young freshmen who just hit campus and veterans like Shumate and Max Redfield, Sebastian is a perfect plug-in, earning his way to Notre Dame after handling his business at Cal.
Regardless of what happens at the next level, a degree from Berkeley and a masters from Notre Dame? Sebastian will be just fine in the future.
Sebastian isn’t a starter unless something goes wrong with Drue Tranquill. But he also wouldn’t be in South Bend if he didn’t have a specific value, and Brian Kelly and Brian VanGorder keeping him around certainly means he’ll be able to contribute in this system.
Undersized and not a natural in coverage, Sebastian’s game might be a little one-dimensional. But that’s not the worst thing in the world if it’s something that can help fill a deficiency, something this defense currently has.
Predicting a healthy season from Sebastian is difficult at this point. But I liked the idea of adding Sebastian before last season and I still like it now. It’s tough to find snaps for Sebastian right now, though those snaps are currently being allocated to a player with two major knee injuries in his last half-dozen football games.
So he’s a Next Man In candidate who’ll likely be a key contributor on special teams. That’s a very good way to utilize a scholarship, especially from a veteran who is key depth at a position of need.
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