Story Poster
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Post-Spring Position Outlook | Safety

June 8, 2021

We know one thing about the safety position for Notre Dame this season: they’ll have the best safety in the country at one spot.

Kyle Hamilton came in with a lot of hype when he was a recruit. Somehow he has lived up to it, even while playing on one good ankle for almost all of the 2020 season.

He missed the spring while rehabbing the ankle, but mark it down that he’ll once again be an impact defender. Hamilton can cover so much ground, match up with all different body types, and also play in the box and be an eraser playing the run. He’ll be an All-American and it’s going to be fun to see how Marcus Freeman chooses to utilize his talents.

The spot next to him is still up for grabs. Houston Griffith played a lead role in spring ball and from everything we’ve heard, he stepped up his game. We didn’t hear about him having a breakout in the way many were hoping for.

Simply solid and consistent is going to be important and he should be able to provide that. We’ll see how much more than that he can bring.

DJ Brown seemed to show up with more splash plays on highlights whether it was playing downhill in the running game or making plays in coverage. He also got beat in the Blue-Gold game enough times to be noticeable in a not good way.

Brown has always made plays in practice. He hasn’t been consistent in game action so far and needs to be better in man coverage.

It’s going to be a battle to watch in camp and KJ Wallace looks like he may be in the mix as well. He is definitely in the mix as a nickel back. Unsurprisingly, the former corner looks comfortable in man to man. He is smaller than Griffith and Brown, but doesn’t play small when playing the run or tackling on the perimeter.

It looks like he will play a role this season regardless if he starts or not.

We’ve seen very little of Litchfield Ajavon before the spring game, but his presence was felt with his physical play and a couple of pass breakups. His style of play can always be helpful on special teams and perhaps he can make plays there this season.

Justin Walters kept showing up in highlights during the spring for all of the right reasons. The question with him as a recruit was ball production. He didn’t have a senior season to prove that he could consistently find the football in coverage so he came to campus as an early enrollee and showed he has the instincts and ball skills to succeed.

It’s probably unlikely he gets much playing time this season, but if he continues to shine this summer, new safeties coach Chris O’Leary may not have a choice but to elevate him.

Freshman Khari Gee is arriving this month and will have to show out to play this season. It’s going to be interesting to monitor his progress as he’s also been projected as a potential Rover.

There’s the possibility that Notre Dame will move a corner to safety if they are able to land a transfer to play outside. If that happens, Ryan Barnes could be a candidate to move, but we’ll see how that goes.

Notre Dame might be in a spot where they end up playing four safeties this fall. It’s unknown how good the group will be outside of Hamilton, though. The potential is there for things to work out well and if they find consistency to go with the unicorn that Hamilton is, then the ceiling for the defense as a whole will go way up.

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.