Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 26, 2019*

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

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Page 6 of 55 OCT. 26, 2019 7 UNDER THE DOME 212) because the position requires tremendous fluidity and ability to flip one's hips, not the easiest task for rangier players — which is why the 6-4 Hamilton remains a classic center fielder at safety as opposed to playing corner. "Balance, agility, change of direc- tion, the ability for somebody long to transition from back pedal," Kelly replied when asked what the staff saw from Hart to make the change. "Because that's the biggest thing — how you can flip your hips and then break out of your back pedal on the football. "And then there has to be a natural kind of easy movement in doing so. And there was a lot of ease to that movement, those transitions." Should he be required to play this year, though, the defensive concepts for him would have to be elementary. "He's far from being in a position where we feel like he can go out there and handle it by himself," Kelly said. "We would have to be very limited in what we're doing. But so far so good." WHAT ABOUT VAUGHN? Because of the injury to Crawford, 5-10, 170-pound sophomore and California native TaRiq Bracy, play- ing opposite Pride, took almost all of the snaps versus Bowling Green (see page 10). Conspicuous in his absence was se- nior Donte Vaughn, who had a strong first two weeks of preseason camp before getting beaten out by the vet- eran Shaun Crawford, who likewise was coming back from major surgery and had missed the spring. Prior to the meeting with USC Oct. 12, Vaughn has appeared in three games. Thus, the plan was he would be the third corner in versus USC — and then not play him the rest of the season. Appearing in a fifth game would not allow him to apply for a fifth season in 2020. "We want to be very strategic as we move forward with that fourth game," Kelly said. "… We're not go- ing to play him unless we absolutely have to put him on the field." As for Griffith, the plan is to keep him at safety for the long term. "We need him at safety and play- ing inside for us," Kelly said. "We would not be doing him a service if we are moving him outside." And just in case the freshmen have to play … "We'll have to be creative in cov- erages and make sure we put our younger players, if in fact they're called on, in a position to succeed," Kelly noted. ✦ Freshman Cam Hart was excited to make the move to cornerback after starting his Irish career as a wide receiver. The position switch was precipitated by Shaun Crawford's elbow injury against Virginia. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER Ohio State Transfer Isaiah Pryor A Potential Safety Net A reloading Notre Dame defensive backfield corps in 2020 is looking into a graduate transfer option as well. Former Ohio State safety Isaiah Pryor was slated to officially visit Notre Dame for the USC weekend. The 6-2, 200-pound Pryor will graduate with a bachelor's degree this December and will be immedi- ately eligible to play next fall with two years of eligibility remaining. A product of superpower IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Pryor (whose hometown is Lawrenceville, Ga.) was ranked the No. 106 overall recruit in the 2017 class by Rivals, and as high as No. 45 by ESPN. He signed with the Buckeyes and recorded 44 tackles in his first two seasons. The early enrollee played in all 14 games for the 2017 Big Ten champs while finishing with 13 tackles. Then in 2018 for the 13-1 team that again won the league title he had seven starts, finishing with 31 tackles and six passes defended (including an interception), which was second best on the team. As a junior in 2019, Pryor played in four games and recorded three tackles but decided to preserve his eligibility and enter the transfer portal. "This was not an easy decision," Richard Pryor, father of Isaiah, told Rivals' BuckeyeGrove about the decision to transfer from OSU. "Isaiah really loved his time at Ohio State and is very close with his team- mates. We also grew to love Columbus and the University and enjoyed our time on the parents board. "Isaiah will graduate in December, and we'll keep an open mind and just see who reaches out and what the interest will be," Pryor continued. "We had a great conversation about this with [Buckeyes head coach] Ryan Day. He has treated Isaiah very well, and he is a family man that we will maintain a relationship with moving forward." Current senior safeties and captains Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman are projected to make an NFL roster next year (although Gilman could apply for one more college season if he so chooses), while sophomore safety Derrik Allen transferred to Georgia Tech in August. As a result, sophomore Houston Griffith — also from IMG Academy, as is senior Irish running back Tony Jones Jr. — was shifted back this month to his more natural safety position after working at corner in the spring and the first half of this season. Freshman Kyle Hamilton, a regular playmaker in this year's lineup, is projected to headline the safety contingent next season. — Lou Somogyi

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