Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 26, 2019*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 55

6 OCT. 26, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI I n September, it was Notre Dame's offense that saw its backfield in motion. Injuries to junior starter Jafar Arm- strong (abdominal surgery) and sophomore Jahmir Smith (turf toe) necessitated some contingency op- tions. This included shifting junior cornerback Avery Davis to running back and using wideouts such as fifth-year senior Chris Finke and sophomore Lawrence Keys III on jet sweeps or shovel passes. In October, the attention turned to the defense having its own backfield in motion. When fifth-year senior cornerback Shaun Crawford dislocated his elbow while also tearing four ligaments in it against Virginia Sept. 28 — which was projected to sideline him until the Oct. 26 Michigan game — it set off a chain reaction. First, freshman wide receiver Cam Hart was shifted to cornerback, where he was inserted for the final series in the 52-0 blowout of Bowl- ing Green Oct. 5, and he was listed as the No. 2 boundary cornerback (behind senior Troy Pride Jr.) for the USC game Oct. 12. Second, with Hart at his new po- sition, sophomore Houston Griffith was aligned back at his more natural safety position, where he and fresh- man standout Kyle Hamilton will be projected to start in 2020 after cur- rent captains Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman try to earn a spot in the NFL. Third, it keeps in place the plan to redshirt current senior cornerback Donte Vaughn in 2019 so that he can provide some more experience at the position as a fifth-year senior in 2020. HEART-TO-HART The move of Hart does not come as a surprise. While most skill-position recruits coming out of high school often pre- fer the glamour of offense, the 6-2½, 208-pound Hart was thinking more long term when he signed with Notre Dame in the 2019 cycle. "There aren't a lot of 6-3 corners out there that can move," Hart told Blue & Gold Illustrated last winter. "I thought, 'Where am I going to make my money, playing DB or receiver?' "… If I can find a DB coach that can teach me how to move and I can be proficient at that position, then of course I'm going to play DB and make however much money in the NFL. "I was just trying to figure out how I can make my game different. Plus, I always loved playing cor- nerback. I can be physical, I can do whatever I want whenever I want, and I have complete control over how my game goes. I don't have to worry about the offensive tackle not blocking or the quarterback not putting it in the right spot. I have complete control over how I play." So when head coach Brian Kelly, defensive coordinator Clark Lea, cor- nerbacks coach Todd Lyght and de- fensive pass game coordinator/safe- ties coach Terry Joseph approached Hart about the switch, it was an easy sell. "We're suggesting in most of these instances what maybe is the best in- terest of the individual, whether it's redshirting or coming back or chang- ing a position," Kelly said. "In this instance, we were suggesting to Cam it may be in his best interest to play corner. "Now, if he balked totally and said, 'That's not for me, that's not what I want to do, that doesn't sound right to me,' we would have maybe had a subsequent conversation to lay out to him why we thought that." The shift was not done haphaz- ardly. Cornerbacks with Hart's size are rare (although Vaughn is 6-2¾, UNDER THE DOME TURNING THE CORNERS Cornerback position sees movement for the present and future Sophomore Houston Griffith has returned to his more natural safety position after starting the season at cornerback. He was on the field for 14 snaps against Bowling Green. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 26, 2019*