There are some springs when a full roster returns and there are not many positions up for grabs.
This is not one of them for the Notre Dame football team.
Almost the whole linebacking corps is free to take, a third wide receiver has to emerge and they do not have a starting nickelback locked in for the 2019 season.
Nickelback just so happens to be the most interesting position battle to me. It is a spot on the field that is becoming more important every year with spread offenses being used by many teams. It is also a spot that struggled for the Irish last year. I think the defense could vastly improve with a solid, consistent nickelback.
These are my four candidates:
- Shaun Crawford
- TaRiq Bracy
- Avery Davis
- Kyle Hamilton
My best guess is that the starting nickelback will come from one of these four guys. They all could play in some form, but one will emerge to be the guy during crunch time. Shaun Crawford is a logical pick but we all know his health issues. He will have to come back and prove he can play at a high level.
TaRiq Bracy is a rising sophomore who showed some flashes last year. He needs to add weight and play more consistently, but he very well could be the nickelback come Sept. 2 at Louisville.
Avery Davis is as intriguing as it gets. He is on his third position at Notre Dame. I think this one suits him best. Davis never looked comfortable running the football. Maybe his quarterback days will help him read defenses at nickelback.
And there is Kyle Hamilton. This could be a long shot since he will not report to South Bend until August, but he has the talent. Hamilton is the highest ranked recruit coming in next year and will look to make an immediate impact.
A rotation of Shaun Crawford and Avery Davis. I do not think the coaching staff will want to overwhelm Crawford next season. He can be effective when healthy. I like Avery Davis’ skill set. Nickelback seems to fit it best. Brian Kelly has already talked about how much he likes Avery Davis in the defensive backfield. I will take his word.
It is always fun to follow something in spring practice. I will be following the nickelback position as it could an area the Notre Dame defense takes a huge step forward.