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Notre Dame Football

Safety Xavier Watts Returning to Notre Dame

December 30, 2023

It’s been a big 24 hours for Xavier Watts and the Notre Dame program as the Fighting Irish cruised in the Sun Bowl and then the All-American safety announced he would return to the program for the 2024 season. 

Watts won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s best defensive player after leading college football with seven interceptions this fall. The Nebraska native also made 52 tackles, three tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, four pass breakups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. 

The USC game in October put Watts on the national scene as he picked off Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams twice, forced a fumble and then recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the blowout win over the Trojans. 

A former four-star receiver, Watts made the transition to safety while at Notre Dame and has never looked back. 

“Two years ago, he showed traits when we moved him of being able to play the safety position,” stated head coach Marcus Freeman earlier this year. “The ability to track the ball, the ability to track ball carriers and make plays in space, the ability to beat blocks. 

“There's so much more that goes into becoming a complete player than just the traits. What you're seeing now is obviously with his study habits, with his practice habits, learning the details of the position is what is giving him a chance to truly have success to be in the right position.

‘That's what you're seeing with Xavier. He's continuing to improve at the fundamentals of the position. He’s always had ability and talent but there's another aspect of actually being really effective at the position that he's continuing to grow at and play at an extremely high level right now.”

Watts, who still has two years of eligibility, has also tallied 105 tackles, five tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, seven interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery over the last three years on defense. 

Notre Dame will open the 2024 season in College Station against Texas A&M. 

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