ND A-to-Z: Avery Sebastian

Notre Dame rolled the dice on a graduate transfer last season and won. It hopes for more of the same in Avery Sebastian this fall after his departure from Cal.

Notre Dame doesn’t need safety Avery Sebastian to win a starting job.

But the Irish could have said the same thing about Cody Riggs last summer too. Then KeiVarae Russell was suspended for the year, forcing Riggs into the lineup instead of staging a competition with Cole Luke.

On paper, Sebastian as Notre Dame’s third safety is the ideal. After considering the career inconsistencies of Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield and how injuries have ravaged this position in recent years, a more realistic view of Sebastian’s final season emerges. The Pac-12 transplant won’t only play plenty this season, he’ll likely start too.

The Irish Illustrated A-to-Z series continues with the Cal transfer.


Sebastian pushes Shumate at strong safety and provides quality depth at the back end, where the Irish may have to rely on freshmen. While Sebastian is personally gunning for a starting job, the best case for Notre Dame is more likely that he fills the No. 3 role behind Shumate and Redfield. Sebastian should also be a factor on special teams, perhaps across the board. Simply earning the coaching staff’s trust during camp to become an active part of the defensive backfield rotation would be a positive for the fifth-year senior.


The injuries that dogged Sebastian at Cal follow him to Notre Dame, limiting the graduate transfer to a part-time role. As a junior, Sebastian suffered a training camp concussion and tore his Achilles in the opener. A quad injury cut his senior season to just seven games in reserve duty. Sebastian plays a part-time role this fall while moving in and out of the lineup due to injury. If healthy, any role Sebastian plays should be a boost to the roster.


In terms of Notre Dame, the only fit is Cody Riggs as a graduate transfer into the program. Riggs played a more prominent role at Florida (26 starts) than Sebastian did at Cal (six starts), and both endured injury issues as undergrads before making their moves to South Bend. Of course without those injuries that wiped out their junior seasons, there wouldn’t have been an opportunity to make this kind of career change.


Only Scout ranked Sebastian as a three-star out of Eagles Landing Christian Academy, where he teamed with Irish defensive end Isaac Rochell. Scout slotted the Under Armour All-American as the nation’s No. 27 safety. ESPN was by far the highest on Sebastian at No. 68 overall, which put him well ahead of Stephon Tuitt. Rivals had Sebastian at No. 181 overall and No. 14 at his position. 247 also ranked Sebastian as a four-star prospect. If not for injuries Sebastian could have backed up that four-star ranking, but the missed time put him on a three-star track.

Best Game

In the first game of his junior season Sebastian put up 10 tackles and an interception in the first half of the opener against Northwestern. Then an Achilles tear ended his season. It was one of three double-digit tackle games for Sebastian during his career.


"Avery will help our football team right away, but more important, he is the type of young man that we want in this program. Avery carries himself in a first-class manner, on and off the field.” – Brian Kelly announcing Sebastian’s commitment in February

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