Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Shaun Crawford: "We have to count on each other and trust each other"

August 10, 2017

It’s not easy coming back from a significant injury but Notre Dame defensive back Shaun Crawford battled back to return from an ACL injury that caused him to miss his freshman season. Less than two games into his sophomore season, the 5-foot-9, 176-pounder tore his Achilles and missed the remainder of the 2016 season.

Crawford is back on the field for the Irish in 2017, and the Cleveland native credits those around him for getting him through the tough time's last fall.

“It was very frustrating, another injury, but I am back on the field, and I think it is just another test for me,” Crawford said on Wednesday. “I relied on my faith, and it allowed me to grow closer to God. It allowed me to be prepared for anything that comes in the future, whether it’s in sports or life. I think I handled it well. I trusted God, my family, and leaned on my teammates and coaches.”

Rick Kimball/ISD Shaun Crawford
The junior defensive back felt both injuries were tough to come back from but admitted the Achilles injury was the hardest.

“The Achilles was rough because I was off my feet for a long time,” explained Crawford. “With the new addition to the strength staff, Coach (Matt) Balis really pushed me, and I wasn’t used to that after coming off an injury. He challenged me and allowed my body to see changes. I feel like I am more powerful, stronger, and more explosive than I was last year.”

With Crawford back in the mix in the Notre Dame secondary, the defense is actually ahead of the offense for the first time in a few years, according to head coach Brian Kelly.

Crawford see’s the improvements but also credits the offense for pushing the defense each day. 

“The defense is playing well and playing fast,” stated Crawford. “That’s something we have to do that we didn’t do last year. We have to count on each other and trust each other. The scheme and technique will take care of itself.

“The offense is doing their part as well. They are making us better. We are flying around and making them better. We’re just trusting the process right now. We’re going through our mental reads and techniques the coaches are teaching us. We’re excelling at them. We have a long way go, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

New defensive coordinator Mike Elko has installed a player friendly defense and has drawn rave reviews from members of the defense to this point of Fall Camp.

“Last year’s defense, you had to win a lot of 1-on-1 matchups,” Crawford said. “This year is nothing like that, and he puts it to where it’s a team defense. As long as everyone on the defense is doing their job, we should hold up.”

Crawford doesn’t seem to miss a beat from his nickel position, and it was because of the work he put into the position in the offseason.

“There aren’t many challenges because I spoke with the rovers a lot over the spring and summer,” Crawford said of the nickel position. “I knew the nickel opportunity was going to come. I prepared myself by talking to them and knowing what they do in terms of certain drops and run fits.

“When the time came, I was familiar with it, and we watch a ton of film. It hasn’t been really tough at all.”  

When September 2nd comes, Crawford will be grateful to take the field for the Irish, but he's not focused on his return to Notre Dame Stadium just yet.

"I am going to be excited about the season, but I am more eager about tomorrow’s practice," said Crawford. "I am just trying to prepare for that moment by taking it day by day and trying to excel on the football field."

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