As we head into the 2014 season let’s take a look at Notre Dame Football’s top 5 defensive impact players:
1.) Sheldon Day- Day recorded 33 tackles last season for the Irish (21 solo tackles and 5.5 tackles for a loss). Day was second only to Stephon Tuitt last season on tackles from defensive line players. Coming into his junior season Day has the opportunity to become the face of the Defensive line and the proven ability to be a thorn in the side of opposing offenses. Look for Day to wreak havoc and to become more of a leader on the defensive line.
2.) Matthias Farley- Farley ended the 2013 season with an impressive 49 tackles (25 solo), 2 interceptions, and one of those interceptions was a clutch pick against Arizona State to ensure an Irish victory. Farley has been consistent over the last two seasons and looks to be a serious defensive threat for the Irish in 2014.
3.) Austin Collinsworth- Collinsworth was primarily a special teams player his first two seasons with the Irish before a shoulder injury sidelined him for a season. In 2013 Collinsworth came out swinging ending the season with 43 tackles and three interceptions. Collinsworth looks crisp and strong heading into the 2014 season.
4.) Jarrett Grace- Grace was dealt a bad hand last season breaking his leg early in the season. Grace led the Irish in tackles at the time of his injury with 40. He led the Irish in tackles in two of the five Games he played. Look for Grace to be laying the smack down on opposing half backs this season.
5.) Jarron Jones- Jones appeared in 12 games with one start. Recording 20 tackles, one for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and two blocked kicks. If the stats he provided with his limited playing time don’t impress you then you are in for a big surprise in 2014.
Honorable Mention- Elijah Shumate- Shumate recorded 23 tackles in nine games while missing three games to injury.