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May The Road Rise Up To Meet You: Elijah Shumate

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As the loooong football offseason begins it seems like this would be a good time to look at the players who will be playing their last season for the Irish next fall. As they enter their final year of eligibility these players have one more chance to shine under the golden dome.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Elijah Shumate- Ramsey, New Jersey

Recruiting Rank: 247- 4 star/ ESPN- 4 star/ Rivals-4 Star

Coming out of high school, Elijah Shumate had a reputation as a safety prospect that displayed excellent physicality but maybe lacked true top-end speed. He was viewed by many as a thumper type of safety that would be expected to put in a lot of work inside the box and work to improve coverage skills as a safety. This made sense due to Shumate playing mainly at outside linebacker in High School at Don Bosco Prep. Coach Brian Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff were excited to land Shumate because of the diverse ways he could be used and the high level of physical capability he possessed.

Career Notes:

Shumate's career has been marked by highs and lows both on and off the field. During his freshman season, Shumate operated primarily as a nickel corer in ND's sub package and the freshman performed very well in that limited role, playing in all 13 games and finishing with 9 tackles and 3 pass break ups.

Shumate's workload expanded his sophomore season as he split time at safety with Austin Collinsworth and Matthias Farley, getting four starts in ten games while missing a couple games due to injury. The increased playing time saw a small uptick in tackles with 23.  But Shumate was only credited with one pass defended. Shumate's season didn't end on a high note, as he was suspended for the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl. The suspension seemed to highlight the lack of focus that was the only thing preventing Shumate from being a top-notch safety.

Year 3 for Shumate continued to be marred by inconsistency. Beginning the year as a starter and eventually being replaced in the lineup by freshman Drue Tranquill. For every athletic play that he made that inspired the defense, like this...

(NOTE: Michigan still hasn't scored)

There was a mental error or missed assignment that led to a big play for the opposition. These mistakes and missed attention to the details are what stood between Shumate and a stellar junior year.

2015 Forecast:

Elijah Shumate's impact for the Irish during his senior season will be determined entirely by one person... Elijah Shumate. If he can show the necessary effort and dedication in spring ball and every week in preparation, there is no limit to how effective he can be because of his physical gifts. Also, because the coaching staff didn't bring in a instant impact type safety in this year's recruiting class, the safety position is firmly in the hands of Shumate.  It's up to him whether he wants to drop the ball or seize the moment and become a leader of the defense.