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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 14 Devin Studstill, safety

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 198 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
Depth chart: During the offseason, Studstill seems to have slipped behind classmate Jalen Elliott and junior converted-cornerback Nick Coleman in the competition for starting safety honors. Irish coach Brian Kelly often lumped Studstill and Elliott together in discussing the position, but that may have been as much about efficient brevity when discussing two sophomores as it was about them competing for playing time. Studstill is just as likely, if not more, to back up Coleman at field safety rather than solely support Elliott at boundary safety.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star prospect, Studstill enrolled early after choosing Notre Dame from a lengthy list of scholarship offers highlighted by Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

CAREER TO DATE
Studstill earned his first career start in only the second week of his freshman season, the first of his nine starts last season. Studstill’s chances at starting increased drastically with the dismissal of Max Redfield, but he was already challenging the senior for playing time, if not the starting nod, before the end of Redfield’s Irish career. Studstill finished the season 10th among the defensive tackle leaders. Six of that top 10, including Studstill, return this season.

2016: 12 games, nine starts, 38 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, one forced fumble.

QUOTE(S)
Some of Kelly’s lumping together Studstill and Elliott derived from them both being developing young players learning a new defensive scheme.

“Jalen Elliott and Devin Studstill are still in that programming mode in terms of doing all the little things right for us,” he said in early April. “Fundamentally, they’re getting better. I know [defensive coordinator] Mike Elko really likes those two kids, likes their toughness and their want to play the game. They’re going to be there for us.”

WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
It should be noted Keith wrote this A-to-Z entry shortly before Redfield’s arrest and subsequent dismissal.

“Redfield may be the starter, but Notre Dame is going to need another safety who can play in the open field. And Studstill seems to have earned enough trust to get the staff to believe he’s the guy — though they don’t exactly have a ton of options.

“With depth not making a redshirt logical, getting Studstill experience on special teams is a good start. And then he’ll likely be the next guy in behind Redfield, who has done a nice job of convincing the staff he’s ready to play consistent football, but has yet to show that he can actually do it.”

2017 OUTLOOK
Studstill’s freshman season was an encouraging one, which makes Elliott’s surpassing him this spring all the more impressive. The same goes for Coleman, but neither means Studstill will not be needed this fall. In many respects, a safety rotation could prove most productive.

Kelly alluded to that concept a few times in the spring, specifically acknowledging down-and-distance situational needs. Passing-specific instances may draw sophomore Julian Love from cornerback, but they could also lead to Studstill joining Coleman on the field, spelling Elliott.

One way or another, Studstill will see plenty of action this season. Exactly when and where will hinge on how the theoretical safety rotation aligns itself next month.

DOWN THE ROAD
There is a distinct temptation to simply copy-and-paste the “Down the Road” portion of Elliott’s 99-to-2 entry into this same spot. The summary of it: When discussing an inexperienced and shallow group of safeties, do not forget to include mention of Navy transfer sophomore Alohi Gilman. Whether or not he is declared eligible in 2017, he will factor heavily into the safety conversation in 2018.

Suddenly, the inexperienced and shallow group of safeties could be navigating a logjam of young players tested early in their careers. At that point, the performances in those games — plus Gilman’s time in Annapolis — will determine the depth chart more than dazzling in practices will. Studstill’s competence in his chances in 2017 will greatly impact his opportunities down the line.


2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
No. 26: Ashton White, safety
No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back

TRANSFERS
No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

INJURIES
No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship

Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 15 C.J. Holmes, running back

Rivals.com
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Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 206 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Early-enrolled freshman with four years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
Depth chart: Holmes sits behind four other running backs and is unlikely to climb that ladder much in 2017.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, Holmes committed to Notre Dame in July of 2016 rather than accept offers from some of the biggest programs in the country such as Alabama, Michigan, Tennessee and UCLA. Rivals.com rated Holmes the No. 5 all-purpose back in the class, the No. 2 prospect in Connecticut and the No. 203 player in the country.

QUOTE(S)
Holmes separated his shoulder early enough in spring practice Irish coach Brian Kelly never had the chance to expound on the complimentary comparisons he heaped upon Holmes on National Signing Day.

“Versatility I think is what comes to mind,” Kelly said in February. “I look at him as a guy like a Theo Riddick, C.J. Prosise. He’s going to play both running back and wide receiver for us. We think we have a nice package for him right away. We’re going to ask him to compete right away. He’s going to be one of those guys that we’re going to force feed him a little bit and get him involved.

WHAT KEITH ARNOLD SAID UPON HOLMES’ EARLY ENROLLMENT
Holmes will step in and challenge a talented group of runners, but at a position group that was stuck in neutral in 2016. He also has the ability to play receiver.”

2017 OUTLOOK
It was always going to be unlikely Holmes would see many, if any, carries at running back this season. Junior Josh Adams will see the majority of the action with junior Dexter Williams and sophomore Tony Jones earning many chances to spell Adams. Once Holmes departed spring practice with the shoulder injury, sophomore Deon McIntosh moved from receiver to running back to provide depth, and he will likely remain there in the fall.

Perhaps due to the aforementioned versatility, Holmes would have had chances to impress on special teams. Now, though, with the shoulder injury, allowing the freshman the entire season to heal seems the most likely course of action and, for that matter, the most logical. He is not needed at running back in the immediate future, and it seems rather foolish to force him to take hits on the shoulder earlier than necessary just so there is one more body on the coverage units.

It should be noted, Kelly said Holmes had surgery on the same injured shoulder his sophomore year of high school. A separated shoulder may seem a ho-hum injury, but it is far from it, especially once it qualifies as a recurring trouble.

DOWN THE ROAD
In a year, Adams and Williams will still be around, and Adams will presumably continue to lead the Notre Dame ground attack. Entering 2019, however, Jones will be primed to take over the workhorse duties. Holmes offers an ideal complement to Jones’ bruising-yet-agile style, and could fit even better when considering his ability to come out of the backfield as a receiver.

This fall will provide better insights into this aspect, but Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long has often involved tight ends and running backs in his passing attack, creating a role there for Holmes to establish himself in 2018 while readying for 2019.


2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
No. 26: Ashton White, safety
No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver

TRANSFERS
No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

INJURIES
No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship

Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 16 Cameron Smith, receiver

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 203 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Graduate transfer from Arizona State with only one season of eligibility remaining.
Depth chart: This is more a speculative exercise than usual considering Smith is a veteran yet has not had the chance to practice so much as once with the Irish. Expect him to join the ranks as a slot receiver, otherwise known as the Z, battling junior C.J. Sanders for the right to back up sophomore Chase Claypool and perhaps be the first option should Notre Dame opt for a more traditional inside route runner than the 6-foot-4 Claypool. A similar description could — and likely will — be applied to Michigan graduate transfer Freddy Canteen.
Recruiting: A consensus three star-prospect, Smith chose Arizona State over Houston and Iowa back in 2013.

CAREER TO DATE
Notre Dame fans may remember Smith from his touchdown against the Irish in 2014, his sophomore year, during one of the more swing-filled games in recent memory. That four-catch, 67-yard afternoon was part of a career year and theoretically was a harbinger of good times to come before a knee injury cost Smith the 2015 season and limited his explosiveness last year.

2013: 11 games, nine starts, eight catches for 129 yards.
2014: 11 games, eight starts, 41 catches for 596 yards and six touchdowns.
2015: Out with a knee injury.
2016: Eight games, one start, 11 catches for 183 yards.

QUOTE(S)
As much as a healthy Smith brings speed, when healthy, to the field, hampered or healthy he also brings Notre Dame a career’s worth of experience and the demeanor that should come with that. Irish coach Brian Kelly noted that perk when discussing roster changes before his annual Kelly Cares Foundation golf outing in June.

“Speed. The speed factor was No. 1 (with Smith),” Kelly said. “And then No. 2, the maturity level. We wanted to add two more really mature players. We have some really young players. We wanted mature mentors. At times last year, one of the issues was maturity, attention to detail, good habits.

“In [Canteen] and [Smith], we’ve got two guys that are very mature guys, good role models for some young players. From a skillset standpoint, the speed element, where [Smith] can really get over the top of defenses.”

WHAT WE WROTE UPON THE TRANSFER ANNOUNCEMENT
Smith’s speed could land him at the slot, or Z, receiver position in [coordinator Chip] Long’s offense. Sophomore Chase Claypool projects as the current likely starter, but if Long, [receivers coach Del] Alexander and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly opt for a more prototypical blazer, Smith would seem to fit the bill, presuming health.”

2017 OUTLOOK
Handing Smith a scholarship for a year is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward situation for the Irish. The scholarship was not going to be used, otherwise. The only risk he poses would be some form of locker room discord or other off-field distraction. If that were to arise, Kelly would presumably be quick with a dismissal. Then again, Alexander spent the last four years coaching Smith and Long was there alongside him for three of those four. They know him pretty well. If either thought such an issue was remotely possible, Smith probably would not have landed at Notre Dame.

On the flipside, Smith already knows Long’s offensive tendencies. Slipping into a familiar offensive approach should not take much time at all. Long may be most grateful for Smith’s on-field presence as the Irish learn to embrace an up-tempo offense. Smith is already used to it.

On an individual play basis, a need for speed still cannot be denied. Kelly has always preferred to have a threat ready to take the top off the defensive backfield at any moment. Sophomore receiver Kevin Stepherson may present that with top-end speed, but his acceleration could pale compared to Smith’s.

That speed may also be seen on special teams. During the spring, coordinator Brian Polian hoped for more players to be at his disposal. Smith had not yet even chosen Notre Dame yet then — he only graduated from Arizona State in April and publicly chose the Irish in June — but this summer he could quickly earn some goodwill by shining on Polian’s coverage units.

If, in the end, all Smith provides is some guidance for a young Irish receiver corps, that alone would be worth the year’s scholarship.


Early-enrolled freshman running back C.J. Holmes, No. 15, was set to satisfy your 99-to-2 needs today, but then Blue & Gold Illustrated’s Lou Somogyi noted a few numbers and number changes Notre Dame had provided BGI with for its annual preview issue. Whereas Smith wore No. 6 as a Sun Devil, he will add a vertical digit to that numeral while with the Irish. Holmes will have to wait until Sunday.


2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
No. 26: Ashton White, safety
No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
No. 17 Isaiah Robertson, safety

TRANSFERS
No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

INJURIES
No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship

Friday at 4: Overs, Unders and Lesser Vices

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Two friends spent the last four days in Las Vegas. They are relatively good friends, but I still did not ask them to handle any wagers for me. Vices should be self-sustaining, unaffected by outside factors. I could probably have trusted one of them to do as instructed rather than spend my funds on an extra piña colada at the poolside, but how much could I really begrudge him if that was exactly what he did?

Then again, perhaps Vegas poolsides are more hype than reality. I have never been. I drove through once. My passenger was so angry about not stopping, he did not talk to me until the Pacific Coast. I was supposed to attend a bachelor party there — in Vegas, not on the Pacific Coast, though that would undoubtedly be a good time — a few years ago. Unfortunately for my life experiences but likely a blessing for my wallet at the time, that groom is not quite adept at planning ahead. I am, in fact, due to see him in two hours. I’ll expect his prompt arrival 20 or 30 minutes after the agreed upon time.

Now would be a great time for a weekend in Vegas, at least from a business perspective. It is the time of year to bask in college football season win total projections.

Only the truly-depraved and the thoroughly-deprived genuinely study those 130 guesses. The depraved, well, that explanation is obvious. The deprived? It is mid-July. College football does not return for another seven weeks. They need that fix in one form or another.

In that respect, I can understand the lesser vice.

Now, discussing that lesser vice is not meant to encourage you to squander your four-year-old’s college fund. Personally, season win total over/unders serve more as a gauge than anything else. They grant a means of assessment, comparing different teams along a spectrum. It is a puzzle. Solving a puzzle four months before its resolution is an accomplishment, even if one only recognized by the aforementioned depraved.

NFL or NBA season win totals are the equivalent of a 500-piece headache when compared to college football’s 2,500-piece, all-one-color mess. Using the most pertinent team in these parts … Logically, about a quarter of Notre Dame’s roster turned over in the offseason. Suddenly an upperclassmen who has yet to contribute may be counted on in a key role. That can go, and has gone, either direction. For every Jonas Gray, there is a Dayne Crist.

That collection of 2,500 sky blue cardboard chunks suddenly seems to be missing a few pieces when it comes to teams like the Irish. No matter the volume of the cynics, a larger portion of the public will always remain optimistic about Notre Dame’s upcoming season. Thus, oddsmakers will skew the projected win total higher, knowing that majority of fans will bet the over no matter how lofty the supposed outlook may be.

With that in mind, it is somewhat surprising to see most over/under marks for the Irish currently at 7.5, perhaps 8. Without breaking down the season game-by-game right now — remember, there are still seven weeks before real football — taking the over on that seems like a pretty quick decision. An 8-4 season would likely include losses to Georgia, USC, Miami and Stanford and wins over Temple, Boston College, Michigan State, Miami of Ohio, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Navy. None of that sounds outlandish in the least. (more…)

Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 17 Isaiah Robertson, safety

Rivals.com
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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-1 ½, 208 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Early-enrolled freshman with four years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season
Depth chart: Robertson should back up sophomore Jalen Elliott at boundary safety to start summer practices, but by no means is Elliott firmly established as the starter. It would be a surprise to see Robertson make that leap to begin the year, but it is within the realm of possibility by season’s end.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect, Robertson committed to the Irish the day before the 2016 Blue-Gold Game, robbing his recruitment of much drama. Notre Dame was a frontrunner from the outset of Robertson’s decision-making process, despite his father having played at Wisconsin. The Badgers, Penn State and Vanderbilt also pursued the No. 18 safety in the class, per rivals.com, who rated Robertson as the No. 4 recruit in Illinois and No. 202 overall player in the country.

QUOTE(S)
While measuring expectations, Irish coach Brian Kelly praised Robertson’s development toward the end of spring practice.

“[Robertson] started at a level of really not knowing much and he’s grown considerably over the last few weeks,” Kelly said. “He’s done a nice job of picking things up. We’re making progress there. We’re going to need more time, but I’m pleased.”

With the entire safety depth chart a list of unprovens, Kelly acknowledged a combination of players — perhaps including Robertson — will most likely have to rotate in at the position to satisfy all its needed components.

“I don’t know that anybody is going to walk in the door that’s 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and can run a 4.5 anytime soon,” Kelly said. “We know who our guys are. We think there’s some flexibility coming and with the players that we have, we’ll be able to come up with a really good solution by the time we kick it off against Temple.”

Especially considering Kelly’s praise of Robertson from National Signing Day, the freshman has an opportunity to work his way into competitive situations sooner than later.

“His reach is really incredible in terms of what we were able to see in our testing,” Kelly said. “A guy that we think can play the safety position for us at a high level.”

WHAT KEITH ARNOLD SAID UPON ROBERTSON’S EARLY ENROLLMENT
Robertson is a multi-dimensional player with some positional flexibility, though he’s believed to start his career at safety. With [senior] Drue Tranquill entering his final [two] season[s] of eligibility and [sophomore] Devin Studstill having an up-and-down freshman season, there’s room for someone to come in and compete for a job, especially with new coordinator Mike Elko.”

2017 OUTLOOK
Robertson excelled at receiver as well as defensive back in high school. He will not see the offensive side of the ball this season, but he should have a chance to display that athleticism on special teams units from the season’s outset.

If he is already using a year of eligibility on that front, then it makes sense to surmise Robertson will be given at least an August chance to break into the safety rotation. Elliott showed glimpses of a consistent performer last year, but the opportunity is still there for Robertson. By the sounds of it, junior Nick Coleman will start the season leading the way at field safety, which means sophomore Devin Studstill could also be given a shot at boundary safety.

Wherever Robertson lands on the depth chart entering the season, there are not enough options at safety to prevent him from seeing defensive action as a freshman.

DOWN THE ROAD
The perk of an unproven positional grouping is its inherent youth, which in turns means plenty of time to grow into the responsibilities before careers conclude. Such is true for all the safeties, especially when considering one of the elder statesmen of the group, Coleman, only switched to safety this offseason. His window to learn the position may be shortest, but his learning curve will also likely be the steepest.

Robertson will have a chance to be a multi-year starter at safety if he can progress at the position at a slightly faster pace than Elliott or Studstill. Despite the sophomores having a season’s head start, they are not far ahead of Robertson at this point.

Navy transfer sophomore Alohi Gilman presents the complicating factor. He has started a season of college football as a productive safety. Though he is unlikely to be eligible this season, he will be in the mix in 2018 and could quickly establish himself as a presumptive starter if Robertson, Elliott or Studstill does not flash reason otherwise in 2017.


2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
No. 26: Ashton White, safety
No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback

TRANSFERS
No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

INJURIES
No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship