Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2012.
There were nine this year who retained a year of eligibility and today we take a look at a redshirt freshman wise beyond his years.
Chris Badger, Safety
Hometown: Provo, Utah
247: Not rated
ESPN: 3-star, No. 21 safety, 79 grade
Scout: 3-star, No. 28 safety
Rivals: 3-star, No. 41 safety, No. 5 UT
Composite: 3-star, No. 35 safety, No. 4 UT
Need at Position: Very low
Expected Spot on Depth Chart: 3rd-string
If you remember, Chris Badger was a member of the 2010 Irish class--Brian Kelly's first as head coach on National Signing Day. He was a flip from Stanford who enrolled at Notre Dame in the spring of 2010 before leaving on a 2-year mission (he's Mormon) in Ecuador that summer. Badger re-joined the Irish program in early March of last year and is now considered a rising sophomore after a redshirt season last fall.
You can read a recent article on Badger from Irish Illustrated's Tim Prister HERE. You can tell this is obviously a very serious and motivated young man. The question now becomes how much of his football skills he can re-gain after being away from the game for so long.
As previously stated in the RtR: John Turner, there is a major log-jam at safety and Badger is currently sitting behind several players with experience. As a long-shot to become a starter or see significant minutes, Badger will have to turn his focus to making an impact on special teams---and it's there where I think he can play a big part in turning around this facet of the game for the Fighting Irish.
A few minutes of watching Badger's high school tape and it becomes clear he likes to hit. A lot. Sure, he's a bit of a head hunter, he'll pick up some penalties, and maybe miss some tackles at the college level, but it's a nice quality to have in a safety. Badger is not afraid of planting his foot, running at a defender, and putting his body on the line to inflict damage on the opponent---in fact he seems to relish that role.
Having this type of player on special teams as a blocker or flying down the field to make a tackle is big advantage for the program.
Badgers wasn't a top recruit and I think his size really hurt him in that department (going NFL Combine on him and I'd say he's Badger 5'11" and 1/4) so his potential may be limited a little bit. However, I really like his football skills and instincts. He's got swift feet and has a nice burst of speed when coming down hill to make a tackle. As already mentioned, Badger is a highlight reel tackling machine too.
It's silly to have high expectations for Chris Badger this year but I'm personally pretty excited to see him out there mixing it up and hopefully becoming a terror on special teams.
*Note: For now, this will be the last Reviewing the Redshirts post. We've only done 7 of the 9 players but we won't be writing anything about long-snapper Scott Daly and Gunner Kiel may no longer be a part of the team. If Kiel decides to stay that will give us an opportunity to finish this series.