Status Report: The Irish Secondary

Our final series of spring wrap-up columns examines Notre Dame’s roster with a look at each individual’s status entering the summer months. Is he ascending? Has he stagnated? Did he take a step back?

Max Redfield (S) – Along with running back C.J. Prosise, Redfield made the biggest strides among Irish competitors this spring. After two seasons of sub par to debilitating play from Notre Dame’s safeties, Redfield is expected to team with Elijah Shumate (below) to right the ship.

Status: Ascending

Elijah Shumate (S) – Beginning with the season-opener vs. Texas, the three-year part-time starter Shumate plus Redfield expect to make the Irish starting safety combination a team strength – just eight months after the pair was benched in favor of a one-armed man and freshman linebacker…

Status: Ascending

Nicky Baratti (S) – Made it through the entire 15-session spring without injury to his surgically repaired shoulders (two shoulders, four injuries, three surgeries). Baratti has the summer months to work his way back into a potential two-deep role.

Status: Stagnant – awaiting contact

Matthias Farley (S) – Season-saver in 2012; face plant (due in part to injuries) in 2013; unexpected playmaker in 2014...As for 2015, he’ll prove invaluable as a special teams player and likely starting nickel, but his work at safety this spring was a precautionary measure. (Avery Sebastian and a healthy Drue Tranquill will be the second unit safeties by mid-August.)

Status: Stagnant. Farley is in position to win the Nickel role in the fall but he had no competition in the spring. When used properly, he makes plays.

Drue Tranquill (S) – Though Tranquill if famously ahead in his recovery, he was withheld from contact in the spring. It’s illogical to think Tranquill wouldn’t be light years ahead of his current status without suffering a torn ACL in November and separate from that, all sophomore “tweeners” (is he a safety? is he a nickel? is he a sam ‘backer?) need the 15 practices spring provides.

Status: Stagnant, perhaps a Step Back

John Turner (S) – Served as a No. 2 safety in spring ball but will likely join Farley or Baratti as a third-teamer in August Camp. Turner will again be a regular on three, perhaps all four Irish run teams (kickoff, kick return, punt, punt return) as he was last season and in 2013.

Status: Stagnant

Cole Luke (CB) – Though Luke didn’t receive the highest level of praise from head coach Brian Kelly (“he's had a pretty good spring”) it’s likely Kelly merely sees a player that could be a future All-American, not just a strong corner as he was last fall.

Status: Ascending as a player, perhaps Stagnant this spring

Nick Watkins (CB) – Entered the spring session a step behind junior competitor Devin Butler and appeared to exit a full step ahead. You can’t ask for much more than that from a true sophomore cornerback.

Status: Ascending

Devin Butler (CB) – See Watkins, above. Butler will be a special teams regular, regardless, and a good one. It’s notable that Watkins played 13 games on kickoff coverage last year and did not make a tackle. Conversely, Butler has earned ST Player of the Week honors twice over the last two years.

Status: A Step Back at CB

Connor Cavalaris (CB/ST) – Potential fifth-year senior served as a No. 2 cornerback this spring but his role next fall would be covering punts and kickoffs – he’s performed admirably in the latter since early-season 2012.

Status: Stagnant as he awaits word of a fifth-year scholarship opportunity

Summer Additions: Safeties Nicco Fertitta and Mykelti Williams and graduate transfer Avery Sebastian; Cornerbacks Nick Coleman, Shaun Crawford, Ashton White, and, it is assumed, suspended senior KeiVarae Russell. 

Next in our Spring Status Series: The Irish Offensive Backfield Top Stories