Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

Irish A-to-Z: Isaiah Robertson

The early enrollee’s winter and spring assimilation to the program could provide an opportunity for scrimmage time this fall.

  • National Ranking: A consensus four-star prospect, No. 30 among safeties per Scout.com, No. 24 per 24/7 Sports, and No. 18 at Rivals. Nationally, Robertson’s highest ranking was by Rivals (#204) with an aggregate of #274 per 24/7 Sports composite rankings.
  • Irish Illustrated Rank: Robertson placed at No. 7 overall with top billing from both Tim Prister and Tim O’Malley, No. 5 overall. 
  • Position(s): Whip Safety (Boundary), Stud Safety (Field)
  • Likelihood of Freshman Redshirt: Minimal

2017 PATH TO PLAYING TIME

The January enrollee is expected to contribute from the outset, at least on special teams coordinator Brian Polian’s Run Teams (coverage and return). Other than that, Robertson’s scrimmage time likely depends on interrelated developments – one positive, one negative: his improvement coupled with the failure of someone else. 

“I don’t know that anybody is going to walk in the door that’s 6’2” 215 pounds and can run a 4.5 anytime soon,” head coach Brian Kelly offered last spring. “We know who our guys are. We think there’s some more flexibility coming (freshmen) and with the players that we have that we’ll be able to come up with a really good solution by the time we kick it off against Temple.”

Robertson concluded his first spring firmly entrenched as the No. 2 boundary safety behind sophomore Jalen Elliott. But Elliott’s status is written in pencil, as are the respective field safeties Nick Coleman and Devin Studstill – the former a converted corner, the second, like Elliott, a developing sophomore.

It should be open competition for at least two weeks in August – and every weekend in-season thereafter.

LONG-TERM PROJECTION

Starting safety Mike Elko’s scheme – but who knows when?

Coleman has two seasons of eligibility remaining, Studstill and Elliott three apiece, Robertson clearly all four. As for incoming wunderkind Derrick Allen? He’s probably taking someone’s job at some point.

Robertson doesn’t have to win a starting spot any time soon – but it would behoove him to be in the staff’s rotation plans when Spring Ball 2018 concludes.

PLAYER COMPARISON

A dozen cycles of early enrollees have previously produced just three freshmen safeties for the Notre Dame program: Zeke Motta in 2009, Chris Badger in 2010, and Devin Studstill in 2016. Motta starred, Badger transferred and Studstill is of course a work in progress sophomore.

Ideally, Robertson will get his feet wet as a special teams starter as did Motta in 2009 (166 snaps to rank fifth on the squad) before moving into the rotation/part-time starting role in Year 2 and 3.

In his final season in South Bend, Motta – while finishing second on the squad in tackles behind Manti Te’o – quarterbacked a secondary that allowed a paltry10 passing touchdowns in the 12-game regular season – just two were in excess of 14 yards.

QUOTABLE

“I think Isaiah Robertson started at a level of really not knowing much and he’s grown considerably over the last few weeks. He’s done a nice job of picking things up. We’re making progress there. We’re going to need more time. But I’m pleased.” – Brian Kelly on Robertson entering the final week of spring ball.


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