Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2016 Issue

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

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Page 53 of 133

BY ANDREW OWENS F or Notre Dame's maligned sec- ondary from last fall, maybe in- fusing some young talent into the mix will help promote a re- bound effort in 2016. Safety Elijah Shumate and corner- back KeiVarae Russell have departed, and senior safety Max Redfield's spot in the starting lineup was less than certain this spring with early enrollee Devin Studstill challenging him for starting duties. Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, however, is upbeat about the future of the Irish secondary. "The open competition is great," the second-year Notre Dame assistant said. "Everybody is still challenging for the starting spots and we know that we're probably going to have to play eight guys deep across the board, especially with our nickel and dime packages. So everybody is going to have a hand in making this team suc- cessful on the back end." Few positions on the Notre Dame roster are as wide open as the second cornerback spot, a battle that includes sophomores Shaun Crawford and Nick Coleman, junior Nick Watkins and senior Devin Butler. Crawford was expected to be the starting nickel back last fall before suffering a torn ACL in fall camp. Watkins suffered a fractured left humerus midway through spring camp that the program hopes will not prevent him from par- ticipating in summer workouts. The injury to Watkins provided even more of an opportunity for Crawford. "Shaun is a real football guy," Lyght said. "He loves the game, he studies the game, he works at it really hard. … He did a great job in the offseason of working to get back and has been doing really well as far as these last six practices have gone, and we're really happy with his progress." Lyght said in some situations, like with Studstill, certain traits can help accelerate a player's trajectory despite being on campus only a few months. TURNING THE CORNER Notre Dame hopes its secondary can help anchor an improved defense in 2016

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