2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2019 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 161 of 163

160 ✦ BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Nix and then the following year with Geor- gia Tech's Tuitt. Both were vital cogs on the stellar 2012 defense that propelled the Irish into the BCS National Championship Game. Tuitt became a second-round pick after his junior year, while Nix — despite injuries as a senior — was a third-round selection. Florida's Aaron Lynch (Florida State) would have made this list, but he returned to his home state to play for the University of South Florida after only one season with the Fighting Irish. Linebackers Danny Spond (2010, Colorado), Drue Tranquill (2014, Purdue) and Daelin Hayes (2016, USC) Spond, who excelled at quarterback in high school, was outstanding at drop line- backer for the aforementioned 2012 defense before health issues ended his football career the ensuing season. Two-time captain Tranquill embodied everything any school wants in a student- athlete, and his work at Buck linebacker was crucial toward advancing to the CFP. He recorded 292 career tackles (25.5 for loss) before becoming a fourth-round pick this April. Five-star recruit Hayes works at drop end, but arrived as a linebacker. We're taking some liberties there as well, especially with Hayes' ability to drop into coverage the way he can. Current juniors Jordan Genmark Heath (California) and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Virginia) could have starting roles in 2019. Cornerbacks Troy Pride Jr. (2016, Virginia Tech) and Shaun Crawford (2015, Michigan) Overshadowed by classmate and consen- sus All-American Julian Love at corner, the speedster Pride has displayed future NFL skills as well. Crawford has been besieged by injuries (two ACL tears and an Achilles that side- lined him in 2015, 2016 and 2018), but dis- played flashes of his playmaking skills in 2017 when he remained healthy. Safeties Max Redfield (2013, USC) and Houston Griffith (2018, Florida State) Redfield was a five-star prospect while Griffith was the highest-ranked recruit by Rivals in the 2018 Notre Dame class. Redfield's career was truncated his senior year with a gun arrest. Griffith earned a monogram as a freshman while playing in a nickel role after shifting from cornerback in the spring. He was moved back to cornerback this spring out of need. ✦ Louis Nix III was first headed to in-state Miami in 2010, but opted for Notre Dame. He became a third-round pick on the defensive line. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA The Ones That Got Away Since head coach Brian Kelly's arrival in 2010, Notre Dame unofficially has had a 44-33 advantage in having recruits change their mind to sign with the Irish after originally pledging to another school, as opposed to the other way around. In most cases, "the ones that got away" ended up not really mattering. However, these five in particular created a firestorm, and did have future impact. 1. DT Eddie Vanderdoes (2013) — The five-star recruit did actually sign with Notre Dame, but the NCAA permitted an out for him that summer. Vanderdoes starred and earned Freshman All-America honors at in-state UCLA before getting slowed by a torn knee ligament as a junior and becoming a third-round pick (Oakland) in 2017. 2. LB Alex Anzalone (2013) — Same year as Vanderdoes, the Pennsylvania native who became a third-round pick at Florida would have been a strong complement to Jaylon Smith in the same class, especially on that 2015 unit that began 10-1. 3. CB Paulson Adebo (2017) — The second-team All-American as a sophomore (first-team All-Pac-12) last year led the nation in passes defended with 24 (20 broken up and four intercepted). What a rotation it could have been with Julian Love and Troy Pride Jr. Adebo also could have aided the nickel situation, or in the College Football Playoff semifinal versus Clemson when Love was temporarily sidelined. 4. CB Ronald Darby (2012) — Because Darby decommitted, Notre Dame was short at corner during its 12-0 regular season in 2012, so another freshman, running back/slot KeiVarae Russell, converted to defense and started every game there. Darby was the ACC Rookie of the Year that same season, started for the national champs in 2013 and was a second-round pick after his junior year. 5. RB Elijah Hood (2014) — In the year (2015) Notre Dame lost top backs Tarean Folston (injury) and the late Greg Bryant (transfer), converted wide receiver C.J. Prosise ran for more than 1,000 yards behind a power line — but Hood as a sophomore for North Carolina had 1,463 rushing yards, 6.7 yards per carry and 17 touchdowns. Having him, plus Prosise and Will Fuller split out wide, would have been even more intriguing. Notes: Offensive tackle Taylor Decker (Ohio State) became a first-round pick, but the Irish already had first- round tackles in Ronnie Stanley and Mike McGlinchey. California wide receiver Deontay Greenberry in 2012 shocked everyone when he flipped to Houston on National Signing Day, but he went undrafted while the Irish had first-round pick Will Fuller, among others. — Lou Somogyi

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