Notre Dame Football: A look at the cornerback position

Notre Dame cornerback Shaun Crawford(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Notre Dame cornerback Shaun Crawford(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

While Notre Dame has had some strong defenses in recent memory, a position of concern has been cornerback. How does the position look as we glance ahead?

With Notre Dame’s best cornerback turning pro this spring, it leaves a relatively inexperienced group of players left behind in the cornerback corps.

Last season, Troy Pride Jr. was most definitely the best corner on the Notre Dame roster. The former Golden Domer tallied 40 tackles (27 solo) on the season, along with six passes defended, and one interception.

Not only was Pride the best cover corner, but he was also by far the fastest player in Notre Dame’s secondary, something that will surely be missed. Pride truly had track-star speed coming out of Greer High School in South Carolina and he put it to great use at Notre Dame.

Pride’s speed was also shown in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he caught the eye of many NFL scouts. He showed his ability to match up with some of the best wide receivers in college football 1-on-1, and he won the majority of his battles with ease.

Pro Football Focus, who was at the Senior Bowl, listed Pride as their “money maker”, and had this to say about him,

“I’m not sure anyone has risen their draft stock more with their performance this week than the Notre Dame cornerback. In a fairly weak cornerback group here in Mobile, Pride has been the clear cream of the crop. He’s locked down Michael Pittman Jr., James Proche and Quartney Davis on highly impressive reps through the first couple days.”

“His elite speed and smooth hips have him completely unafraid of getting beaten deep. With question marks about his press technique and ability to play the catch point heading into the week, Pride has been fantastic in both.”

Enough about players Notre Dame has lost, now let’s look forward to what Notre Dame has returned to the team this fall at the cornerback position.

Boundary Corner

Starting at the boundary corner position will be the junior, Ta’Riq Bracy.

Bracy was solid at corner last season, tallying 34 tackles (25 solo), one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and seven passes defended. He was the second-best corner on the team last season, but neither he nor Pride played particularly well throughout the season.

The California product will need to make huge strides this offseason and truly become a No.1 corner for this Notre Dame defense. ND returns a strong defense in 2020, but the yearly questions at cornerback remain.

Will Bracy step up?

Next in line for reps at the boundary corner is sophomore, KJ Wallace.

Wallace is a young, exciting cornerback prospect that many people, including myself, are high on heading into the 2020 season. If Bracy does not step up like defensive coordinator Clark Lea needs him to, it is entirely possible that Wallace steps in and starts.

Coming out of a hot-bed of football talent in Atlanta, GA, Wallace has yet to truly have his chance to shine at Notre Dame. With a strong camp heading into the season, Wallace could find himself battling Bracy for playing time.

He is a player to keep an eye on, Irish fans.

Third, on the depth chart is Cam Hart.

The sophomore out of Maryland has yet to truly find his footing in South Bend just yet.

Initially recruited as a wide receiver, Hart has now moved to corner, but it is entirely possible he moves back. At the moment though, he is a corner fighting for playing time in the boundary.

Hart is a very intriguing athlete and is very quick but his athleticism is very raw still. If he can find his way into a position and some playing time on defense, he could be interesting to watch.

Last, is the freshman Ramon Henderson.

The last recruit of the 2020 class, Henderson is a player to look forward to in the future. He will redshirt this season and learn from the upperclassmen above him.

Rated as a 4-star corner according to 247sports, Henderson has the size and frame (6’2, 185) to be a very good corner in the future for Notre Dame.

Field Corner

Starting at the field corner position will be the sixth-year senior, Shaun Crawford.

Plagued by devastating injury after a devastating injury in his Notre Dame career, Crawford was granted a medical redshirt and is eligible to play again in 2020.

Last season, Crawford racked up 28 tackles (19 solo), one interception, and two passes defended.

As long as Crawford can stay healthy *fingers-crossed* he will be a great addition to the Notre Dame secondary, again, in 2020.

Behind Crawford, is the sophomore, Isaiah Rutherford.

After redshirting last season, Rutherford is now ready to earn playing time at the field cornerback position. There is no question that Shaun Crawford is as injury-prone as it gets, and Rutherford will need to be ready to go at any moment.

It is also likely that Clark Lea may limit Crawford’s snaps on defense in an effort to try to keep him healthy, so that opens up more playing time for Rutherford.

The Sacramento product could surprise a lot of people this season.

Next, are the freshmen Clarence Lewis and Caleb Offord.

They are being put together because without being able to see them practice or hear any practice reports about either of the two, it is hard to rank them in a depth chart.

Regardless, what I can tell you, is that both guys come into Notre Dame as 3-star recruits. Both guys are a bit raw, but the Notre Dame staff sees something they like in each guy’s potential.

Where Notre Dame players were selected in a media NFL Mock draft. dark. Next

Each of the two will likely battle for playing time at the nickel but will redshirt.