Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Nick Coleman Embracing The 'Swiss Army Knife' Role

September 14, 2018

He brings versatility to the Notre Dame defense, he plugs in at corner, nickel and safety or wherever the Irish need him. Senior Nick Coleman enjoys being the utility guy in the secondary and is thriving in his role.

“I love being that guy who is the Swiss Army Knife, and it also helps you understand the game more playing from three different positions,” explained Coleman. “I get three different perspectives playing the game. I have increased my football knowledge from freshman year to know so much.”

With Navy transfer Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott at safety, Coleman has been playing mostly nickel for the Irish splitting time with freshman Houston Griffith the first couple games of the season.

The senior has enjoyed the competition in the defensive backs room. It has made him raise his game on a daily basis.

“The competition, when you have a lot of guys in the room that can play at a high level, it elevates your game too and when we are all playing our best it brings us all up,” Coleman stated. “I just have to step my game up.”

The shift to playing mostly nickel has kept the Coleman on his toes, but he loves having the chance to be a difference-maker when a stop is critical in the game.

“You have to be locked it, you can come in for one play, and it can be a 3rd and eight with two minutes left, and you have to get a stop,” expressed Coleman. “You’re like a pinch hitter or a closer, so you just have to be locked it in and if you make the play you’re the hero.”

The Irish secondary will be tested Saturday with Vanderbilt’s talent.

“They have a really good wide receiver in number 16 (Kalija Lipscomb), they have good all-around talent throughout the wide receiving corps,” explained the senior defensive back. “The main thing for us is keeping body to body with their routes because they like to covert a lot of their routes.

“So just staying body to body and contesting the ball. We did a decent job on Saturday with getting our hands on the ball, so that is what we are going to try and do this week.”

Experienced senior in Kyle Shurmur will also be under center for the Commodores, but it is nothing they haven’t seen or prepared for.

“We ran into a four-year starter last year at Wake Forest, so he obviously brings a different perspective to the game,” the experienced Coleman stated. “We just have to be on our guys and play the ball.

“He can throw the ball, he can throw the deep ball and he has good touch too. We just have to keep preparing. We know what they’re going to bring.”

Last week’s scare against Ball State has amped up the energy in practice, and the defense will be prepared to play 97 snaps as they did last week.

“We are trying to bring up our practice intensity is the main thing this week, today was no different,” the Ohio native explained. “It was a little hot yesterday, but we just kept fighting through, and we will be ready for Saturday. 

“Our intensity in practice, we felt was below our standards last week and just moving our bodies. Everything was a little sluggish last week.”

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