Whenever it becomes official, Todd Lyght is poised to bring a fair amount of intrigue to the Notre Dame coaching staff.
Lyght’s resume includes a 12-year career in the NFL after being named an All-American cornerback twice at Notre Dame, along with starting on the 1988 national championship team as a sophomore. He was also an All-Pro in 1999 and Super Bowl Champion with the St. Louis Rams.
Add all that together and you get a coach with serious credentials in the eyes of college players and potential recruits.
Cornerback Donovan Sheffield thought highly of what Lyght brought to the table as a cornerbacks coach at Vanderbilt, which hired the former Pro Bowler in January. Sheffield got to know Lyght before National Signing Day.
“The most impressive thing is I knew of his resume,” Sheffield said. “He was a Super Bowl champion and played as many years as he played in the league plus all the success he had playing at Notre Dame. That caught my eye at first. I knew he was definitely somebody that I would be able to learn from that had already done what I want to do with my life.”
Turns out Sheffield won’t get that opportunity.
Lyght departed for Notre Dame shortly after signing day after the Irish lost defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks to Oklahoma. Vanderbilt has since hired Marc Mattioli to fill its void in the secondary. Mattioli will coach safeties while Brett Maxie handles cornerbacks.
Landing at his alma mater marks a quick rise for Lyght, who started coaching in 2009 at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. He then worked with Chip Kelly as a defensive intern at Oregon and then an assistant defensive backs coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.
One thing Lyght lacks is experience at recruiting at the highest levels of college football, something he’ll be asked to do at Notre Dame in replacing Cooks.
Sheffield sees Lyght’s experience as a player in both college and the NFL as a starting point.
“It’s probably the biggest draw is having somebody that’s already been where you want to be,” Sheffield said. “When they’re telling you something you know that’s what got them where they got.”
Sheffield first met Lyght in a visit at Ensworth High School during the contact period. They stayed in touch over the phone in the run up to signing day and spent most of a weekend together on campus during Sheffield’s official visit.
“He was kind of learning then,” Sheffield said. “He had only been there for two weeks. I know more about Vanderbilt than pretty much anyone because of how long I’ve been committed or whatever. He was just learning about Nashville and things like that. It was more he was learning.”
Learning on the fly then choosing to accept another position didn’t give Lyght much time to get comfortable in Nashville or forge many relationships with the class Vanderbilt inked on National Signing Day.
But as the only cornerback in Vanderbilt’s haul, Sheffield probably got to know Lyght better than anyone during his brief stay.
“He’s more of a person that will talk and is more of a one-on-one person,” Sheffield said. “He wants to find out about you personally. He’s not like a rah rah, get everybody rallied up. He’s more gonna talk to you face-to-face and learn about you.”
Sheffield sees a guy that will succeed on the recruiting trail from the outset.
“Corners will definitely want to play for him,” he said.