The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2019 season.
#15 Isaiah Rutherford, Cornerback
Isaiah Rutherford officially committed to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 13, 2018. He selected the Irish over offers from the Oklahoma Sooners, LSU Tigers, Oregon Ducks, and California Golden Bears. Rutherford initially announced his final four schools on July 26th, and the list did not include the Irish. Brian Polian and Todd Lyght did not give up and continued their pursuit of Rutherford. Thanks to their recruiting prowess, Rutherford took his official visit for the 2018 home opener against the Michigan Wolverines.
Rutherford is a consensus 4 star recruit. Rivals ranked him as the 12th best cornerback in the country and 110th best overall player in the 2019 recruiting class. Isaiah Rutherford stands 6’ 0’’ and weighs 175 pounds. He attended Jesuit High School, and his hometown is Sacramento, California. Rutherford took part in the Nike Football The Opening finals in June of 2018.
During his senior season, Isaiah Rutherford managed a modest 14 tackles on defense. He also played running back on offense, finishing with 678 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Additionally, he recorded 4 receiving touchdowns.
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Isaiah Rutherford and Notre Dame did not have the most normal recruiting process. However, the coaching staff continued to pursue the talented defender, and Isaiah Rutherford continued to listen to their recruiting pitches. Luckily, Rutherford wanted to get to know Notre Dame better and was blown away on his recruiting visit. Based on the rankings from Rivals, Rutherford became the highest rated cornerback to sign with the Irish since Shaun Crawford. Hopefully, Notre Dame continues to make a yearly habit of signing highly talented cornerbacks.
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Labradors are extremely athletic but a tad bit clumsy in their youth. Rutherford possesses elite athleticism but needs to continue to hone his technique at the cornerback position. The hope is that as Rutherford fills out his long frame, he will be able to perfect his technique. This will give him the opportunity to become a dominant cornerback in Notre Dame’s defense in the very near future.
Isaiah Rutherford does not currently possess a collegiate cornerback’s frame. He needs to spend the year in the weight room reshaping his body and adding muscle to allow him to handle the physicality of the position. Luckily, the cornerback cupboard is well stocked for the season. Troy Pride Jr. returns for his senior season and is expected to start at the boundary cornerback position. Donte Vaughn, TaRiq Bracy, Houston Griffth, and Shaun Crawford all also return for another season. Additionally, the staff shifted Avery Davis from running back to cornerback. Donte Vaughn debuted as the number one cornerback at the field position early in camp. This leaves the other three cornerbacks to vie for the nickel position, with Davis likely in a backup role. There just doesn’t seem to be a great fit for Rutherford on defense this season. The staff may look to insert him on special team coverage units, but I would expect them to preserve Rutherford’s freshman eligibility and limit his exposure to four games or less.
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Isaiah Rutherford possesses the lengthy frame to become a dominant corner in the Irish defense. After a year in Matt Balis’ program, Rutherford should be able to pack a few more pounds of muscle onto his body. With Troy Pride Jr. and Donte Vaughn set to graduate after the season, Rutherford will be counted on to produce in 2020.