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Notre Dame Football

Post-Spring Position Outlook | Cornerback

June 16, 2021
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Entering spring ball, there might not have been a bigger difference between floor and ceiling for a position than cornerback. After spring ball, it would be accurate to say that both the floor and the ceiling for the group has risen.

That doesn’t mean there still aren't some unknowns about the corners on the roster. There are only two with non-garbage time experience, which is part of the reason why adding a player via the transfer portal made sense.

Clarence Lewis is an ascending player heading into his sophomore season. He started at the end of 2020 and was incredibly productive. He finished with seven pass breakups, played very well against the run, and should be better this fall.

He took TaRiq Bracy’s job playing the field corner spot and that meant it was going to be a make-or-break spring for him. From everything we heard, he responded the way Notre Dame hoped he would. Some sources said he was the best corner all spring and we saw him show up making plays on highlights a few times.

Even if Lewis sticks as the starter, Bracy may be the starting nickel. He worked there along with safety KJ Wallace. We’ll see who emerges from those two in fall camp, but the winner of that battle is basically a starter.

Cam Hart and Ramon Henderson both look the part and have the tools to be the physical man coverage corners that Marcus Freeman wants to have on his defense. Hart came out of the spring as the projected starter on the boundary, but Henderson certainly impressed in the Blue-Gold game.

Caleb Offord didn’t generate the buzz that four previously mentioned players did, but he did do a really nice job breaking up a pass down the seam to Lawrence Keys in the spring game. This defense is going to rely on playing as many corners as possible and we’ll see if he can get into the mix with that above group.

From the rumblings we have heard, Philip Riley had the edge over Ryan Barnes out of the two early enrollees. Riley seems to be one with the best shot at playing in the fall. It will be interesting to see if Barnes sticks at cornerback or ends up moving to safety.

Chance Tucker and JoJo Johnson arrived on campus this past week. Both are probably guys who will need time to develop before they contribute on defense, but both are the kind of athletes with the potential to surprise this August.

Notre Dame may have four or five good options at corner in 2021. If they knew that was certain, then they wouldn’t have pursued Akayleb Evans, who ultimately chose Missouri.

It’s all going to be about development with seven of the corners on the roster in their first or second year with the program. Mike Mickens didn’t inherit a ton of proven talent when he took the cornerbacks gig last year and we’ll see if he can shape these athletes into a quality unit in year two.

 
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