Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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20 OCT. 17, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED He has switched back in forth on the inside at nickel and outside at corner, but with Luke now perhaps more ideally situated at nickel, Love is con- fidently settling in at cornerback. "Early on it was pretty clear that he was able to pick things up pretty eas- ily and then go back out and retain it later," Kelly said of Love. "We knew his athletic ability was not going to be an issue for us. "We felt like Julian showed in camp his ability to pick things up, and that's when he got a lot more work at nickel … I feel like that position best fits Cole Luke now. Julian can now go back out to corner. It has to do with knowledge and retention." While helping lead Nazareth Acad- emy to back-to-back Illinois state ti- tles the past two seasons, the 5-10½, 190-pound Love developed other disciplined traits that have aided his football development. "My high school was very tough academically, and so I know how to adapt and learn from tough mate- rial," Love said. "I treated my foot- ball work just like my school work. I came in with a mindset of just be ready to learn and absorb it all. "It was very complex and I did make a lot of mistakes. I just tried to eliminate mistakes each day through camp. That was very stressful. I feel like I'm still doing that right now." Notre Dame may have been backed into a corner this year defensively, but its freshmen have come out fighting and are providing some cornerstones for the future — and present. ✦ "WE WERE TOLD FROM DAY ONE WE NEED TO BE READY, AND THE TIME IS NOW. … I FEEL LIKE WE'RE DOING A GREAT JOB JUST LEARNING FROM THE OLDER GUYS AND JUST TRYING TO BE RELIABLE PLAYERS FOR THE REST OF THE TEAM." FRESHMAN CORNERBACK JULIAN LOVE Freshman Standard Here are our top five seasons ever by a Notre Dame freshman cornerback: 1. KeiVarae Russell (2012) — The running back/slot receiver recruit was asked to move to corner because the position had been depleted by graduation and injury. While starting all 13 games during Notre Dame's 12-1 season that ended with a loss in the BCS National Championship Game, Russell earned first-team Freshman All-America honors from two outlets and second team from two others. On the stellar defense that was rated No. 1 at the end of the season, Russell finished fifth in tackles with 58, and also intercepted passes in tight wins over Michigan (13-6) and USC (22-13). 2. Stacey Toran (1980) — The rangy 6-4, 185-pound freshman made his first career start in the third game, at weakside corner. He started the last 10 games on a defense that led a 9-0-1 start and set a Notre Dame record with 23 straight quarters of not allowing a touchdown. He made the Football News' 1980 All-Freshman Team, finishing with 30 tackles, six passes broken up and a clutch interception near the goal line in a 3-3 tie with Georgia Tech. 3. Dave Duerson (1979) — He was thrown into the fire when starting corners Dave Waymer and John Krimm were both injured. The freshman played in nine games and started seven, finishing with 24 tackles, two passes broken up and interceptions in victories against Georgia Tech and Miami during a 7-4 campaign. In the finale against the Hurricanes, he also had 46- and 43-yard punt returns. 4. Robert Blanton (2008) — He played in the last 12 games during a 7-6 season and started the final four. In the fourth game, versus Purdue, he re- corded five solo tackles, broke up a pass and scored the game's first TD on a weav- ing 47-yard return of a Curtis Painter pass. He was a standout in a loss at USC with seven solo stops, one for a loss, a pass broken up and an interception. Overall, he finished the year with 33 tackles, three for loss. 5. Troy Wilson (1983) — In head coach Gerry Faust's third season, Wilson started in 42-0 and 27-6 victories against Army and USC (when Toran was injured), and then intercepted a pass against Navy a week later. Overall, he had 153:19 playing time, 18 tackles and two interceptions. His signature moment was deflecting Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie's final pass on a fourth-down attempt that allowed the Irish to hold on for a 19-18 victory in the Liberty Bowl. — Lou Somogyi KeiVarae Russell made 58 tackles and intercepted two passes as a rookie starter for Notre Dame's national runner-up squad in 2012. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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