Notre Dame is expected to announce Todd Lyght as its new cornerbacks coach soon.
For one of Lyght’s former players with the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s a natural next step for the former first-round pick and consensus All-American.
Lyght served as an assistant defensive backs coach with the Eagles for the past two seasons, following Chip Kelly there from Oregon, where he worked as a defensive intern. Lyght’s next coaching stop was supposed to be Vanderbilt, but that lasted barely a month before his alma mater came calling.
Eagles safety Earl Wolff, a fifth-round pick in 2013 who will likely enter next season as Philadelphia’s No. 3 safety behind Nate Allen and Malcom Jenkins, spoke highly of his former coach.
“We were very tight, to be honest,” Wolff said. “My first year with the Eagles and in the league was his first year, too. So, we started at the same time.”
“He’s all about competition. He expects perfection even though nobody is ever going to be perfect on the football field. He still expects it. He’ll get upset with you and make it known. I can actually call him a technician. He’s that detail-oriented.”
Wolff said an emphasis on tackling is what he’ll take most from learning under Lyght.
“His biggest pet peeve next to missing an interception was bad tackling,” Wolff said. “He would harp on tackling with us even more than our DB coach. Footwork, technique, everything that goes into tackling, he was all about it.”
Synonymous with Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s approach to defensive back play, Lyght’s expertise is man-to-man coverage.
“We play man-to-man, and he was a man corner, so he’s a big-time press guy,” Wolff said. “No doubt. He loves to press and be aggressive. Even if we’d mess up, he’d rather us mess up by being too aggressive instead of the other way around.”
Lyght got his start in coaching as the defensive backs coach at Bishop Gorman, the high school of Irish signees safety Nicco Fertitta and tight end Alize Jones. Following one year at Gorman, Lyght took a job at Oregon under Chip Kelly as a defensive intern before following Kelly to the NFL in 2013.
Recruiting inexperience could be the primary knock on Lyght as he returns to Notre Dame.
But Wolff believes that transition will be an easy one.
“Oh definitely – he’ll be great at that,” Wolff said. “He has a way of interacting with anyone that comes around him. Everybody likes him. High school kids will love him. He’s a legit funny guy. So down-to-earth and humble, too.”
“I know his wife and his two kids, and he’s a family man. Whenever his son would come around, they’d always be throwing the football together.”
Lyght was a three-year starter at cornerback for Notre Dame and two-time consensus All-American (1989-90). He captained the Irish squad his senior year and was a first-round draft pick, fifth overall, of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1991 draft.
“He would talk about Notre Dame all of the time,” Wolff said. “When I heard that he was going to Vanderbilt, I didn’t think much of it. But, then, when I heard he was going to Notre Dame, I was like, this is where he needs to be. He loves Notre Dame to death.”