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Notre Dame adds Navy safety Alohi Gilman as transfer

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Let the roster addition and subtraction continue. Notre Dame added transferring sophomore safety Alohi Gilman from Navy on Friday.

“First of all, Alohi is a great fit here in terms of his character and also what he wants to achieve academically,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “Clearly, that’s primary in our recruiting. Secondly, in terms of his football fit, we got a good look of him against us last season. He plays the style of safety we want in this program. Alohi’s a run-and-hit safety that fits perfectly in the [defensive coordinator] Mike Elko defense.”

Gilman recorded 12 tackles for Navy in its 28-27 defeat of Notre Dame this past November, finishing the season with 76 tackles and five pass breakups. Those 12 tackles do include the one pictured above, lest anyone think Gilman was flagged for face-masking. He was not. Notre Dame then-sophomore receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was forced out of bounds on the play after a gain of 26 yards and a first down.

“I’m extremely grateful to be a part of the Notre Dame family,” Gilman said. “I’m thankful to the coaching staff and the man above for not only believing in me, but also providing this opportunity. I’m excited for this next chapter in my journey.”

His transfer was sparked in part by a decision far up the chain of command to not allow prospective professional athletes at military academies to defer their service to pursue their careers. Presumably, it is this reasoning that leads some to believe he could appeal to the NCAA to play in 2017. For now, Gilman will need to sit out the typical year of an undergraduate transfer.

Heading into this coming season, the Irish lack proven safeties. Junior Nick Coleman and sophomore Jalen Elliott will be the most likely starters in the season-opener against Temple. Coleman moved from cornerback to safety this offseason, while Elliott made 14 tackles in his debut season.

So while Gilman will most likely sit out this season, thanks to a year of starting at Navy, he will essentially be on even footing come 2018 as far as experience with the rest of the defensive backline. At 6-foot, 195 pounds, he may seem slight, but consider that Notre Dame lists Coleman as 6-foot, 187 pounds, and Elliott as 6-foot-½, 208 pounds.

With Gilman’s transfer into the program, rough math indicates the Irish now have 84 scholarship players, one fewer than the maximum allowed by the NCAA.