The Notre Dame football team will have a wealth of talent and experience in its defensive backfield in 2018.
There are a lot of question marks around the Notre Dame football team as Spring practice marches on. One place where there really shouldn’t many questions is the defensive backfield.
The Irish return a wealth of upper-classmen depth in the secondary, along with one of the elite cornerbacks in the country in Julian Love. When you factor in the addition of Navy transfer and known-playmaker Alohi Gilman at safety, it’s tough not to get excited about the potential of Notre Dame’s secondary heading into the 2018 season.
We know Love will be on the field for basically every defensive play. The junior-to-be is still developing as a corner — a scary thought for opponents. His play in 2017 earned him a spot on the Sports Illustrated All-American team, and that reputation is going to result in less balls thrown his way.
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When opposing quarterbacks do look to throw elsewhere, they’ll be looking in the direction of any number of experienced upperclassmen wearing gold helmets. Seniors Shaun Crawford and Nick Watkins have significant playing time under their belts and have both made plenty of impact plays in big games. As opponents add more receivers to their sets, Notre Dame has the ability to match them with even more experienced corners in Troy Pride Jr. and Donte Vaughn. You could also see 4-star recruit and early-enrollee Houston Griffith in the mix. The IMG Academy grad is a big-bodied defensive back built to defend bigger receivers at the collegiate level immediately. He can play both corner and safety if asked.
Watching their back at the safety position will be Gilman. The team and coaching staff has had nothing but positives to say about him since he transferred in from Navy and redshirted last season. That redshirt year allowed him to grow and understand Notre Dame’s scheme. Now he can get on the field and display the talent that made him an All-AAC honorable mention selection as a freshman back in 2016.
Yes, there will be plenty of questions about Notre Dame as a result in significant losses of star-power on the offensive line and at the skill positions, but as of now, there’s really not much reason to doubt the ability of the Irish secondary in 2018.