Notre Dame targets Cal safety

The Irish need safety help and have begun the recruiting process with Avery Sebastian, a fifth-year graduate transfer candidate with Notre Dame connections.

Notre Dame’s hunt for another fifth-year senior transfer has led the program to the Pac-12.

The Irish staff has reached out to Cal safety Avery Sebastian, who’s made the decision to leave the Golden Bears program after graduating from the University. Sebastian, a former U.S. Army All-American, told Irish Illustrated that he’s already contacted Cody Riggs about the process in addition to Isaac Rochell, a former high school teammate at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy.

Sebastian, who went by Avery Walls coming out of high school, played special teams as a freshman at Cal and made four starts as a sophomore. He tore his Achilles’ tendon in the first game of his junior year. Injuries limited Sebastian to just seven games last season. He made 21 tackles and one interception.

Jonathan Gess, head coach at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, said Notre Dame has already called for a background check on Sebastian. Gess believes the safety would be a fit for the Irish program.

“He definitely is a Notre Dame kid,” Gess said. “I’d imagine he’s a pretty hot commodity for all these DI schools that need a safety right now. Even if he doesn’t come in and start, he’s going to push the starter. You need competition.”

Gess called Sebastian one of the smarter players he’s coached in the secondary, even if he only had him for one year. Sebastian transferred into ELCA as a senior and Gess said the safety educated him on the finer points of defensive back play.

“I’m an offensive guy and we didn’t have a defensive backs coach and when I started working with Avery he taught me a lot,” Gess said. “He was like a coach inside the secondary. It sounds crazy, but we were really successful that year. We trusted his knowledge so much and his ability to relate to people.”

Gess said Sebastian and Rochell remain in contact.

“Avery, he’s magnetic,” Gess said. “When you meet Avery, after two days you’ll feel like you’ve known him for four years. When you bring him onto your team, he’s going to lead it. He’s going to influence players. I think he and Isaac could be politicians, they’re that good with people.”

Notre Dame’s needs at safeties are severe, even after signing Nicco Fertitta and Mykelti Williams. The Irish will have just two fully fit safeties during spring practice in Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate. Drue Tranquill is returning from a torn ACL and Nicky Baratti has battled multiple shoulder injuries.

Seniors Austin Collinsworth and Eilar Hardy both departed the program this off-season.

Sebastian wouldn’t arrive in South Bend until the summer, similar to Riggs last year, but he’d walk into a secondary in need of help. Gess believes the Irish would get a run-supporting safety in the Cal transfer.

“He’s a head hunter,” Gess said. “He wants to hit you, he wants to hit you hard. He’s definitely a run-fit safety first. Can he play the pass? Yes, but his strength is playing the run.”


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