Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2021

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

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Page 22 of 55 AUGUST 2021 23 BY PATRICK ENGEL M arcus Freeman's most no- ticeable impact in his first several months as Notre Dame's defensive coordi- nator has come in recruiting, which is the ideal script for the start of his tenure. He arrived with a reputation as a tireless recruiter who could help the Fighting Irish push higher. It was the first area he could make waves, after all. He wouldn't coach a game for nine months. The time for assessing Freeman's on-field work, though, is inching closer. There, he is tasked with keep- ing a stout defense at that same level. He will make some tweaks while be- ing mindful of the success and cul- ture that's already in place. And on the personnel side, he inherits a unit that loses star power but still isn't lacking it. Freeman enters fall camp with a handle on his personnel, but with some areas still left to sort out. Here are five questions Freeman and head coach Brian Kelly will go about an- swering in fall camp — with insight from each about how to do so. 1. WHAT HAPPENS AT TWO CORNERBACK SPOTS? Notre Dame has narrowed the list of candidates for the boundary and slot cornerback jobs, yet it's still hard to know what the Irish will get from them. Junior Cam Hart is the favorite at boundary corner, but only because Notre Dame missed on Tulsa gradu- ate transfer Akayleb Evans. Pursuing Evans — who will play at Missouri — was a sign the Irish wanted help even after strong springs from Hart (6-2½, 207) and sophomore Ramon Henderson (6-1, 189). The duo has a combined 110 career snaps, with most of those coming in mop-up duty. Without Evans, it's Hart's job to lose. He made strides in the spring. Can he make more in August? Five Summer Questions: Defense Coordinator Marcus Freeman and head coach Brian Kelly examine five important storylines heading into fall camp Junior cornerback Cam Hart made strides during spring practice, but the Irish need him to con- tinue that upward trajectory this fall. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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