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 2020 season.
#15 Isaiah Rutherford, CB
Isaiah Rutherford announced the top four finalists in his recruitment during the summer of 2018. Oddly, Notre Dame was not among the finalists. Though not renowned for his recruiting effectiveness, Todd Lyght, along with Brian Polian, continued to recruit Rutherford, ultimately winning his commitment. Rutherford officially committed to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 13, 2018. He chose Notre Dame over offers from the Oklahoma Sooners, LSU Tigers, Oregon Ducks, and California Golden Bears.
Per 247Sports Composite Rankings, Rutherford was a 4 star prospect. He was ranked as the 24th best cornerback in the 2019 class and 27th best player in the state of California. He attended Jesuit High School, and his hometown is Sacramento, California. He currently stands 6’ 0’’ and weighs 188 lbs.
He did not see game action during the 2019 season and was redshirted by the coaching staff.
Rutherford came to Notre Dame as a caterpillar. Though he had elite athleticism, Rutherford needed to develop his body to handle the physicality of playing cornerback in college. He spent the past year in a cocoon as he changed his body in the weight room and improved his technique on the field. Entering his redshirt freshman season, Rutherford has emerged as a beautiful butterfly, ready to take flight for Brian Kelly.
After the season, Troy Pride Jr. was asked which player he thought would surprise fans in 2020. His selection was Isaiah Rutherford. He stated, “The kid’s relentless. He’s always going. He’s always wanting extra work…He’s hungry for the game.” While a strong work ethic does not guarantee on-field success, fans should take notice of the comment as it came from a productive, multiyear starter like Pride Jr.
Rutherford will most likely be vying for the starting nickel position with Cam Hart, K.J. Wallace, Caleb Offord, and Ramon Henderson. In addition to the Nickel position, Rutherford will likely profile as a back-up at the Boundary Cornerback position. In Clark Lea’s scheme the Boundary Corner has typically been a player with a larger frame who can provide a physical presence. My best guess is that Lea begins the year with Shaun Crawford as the starter in the boundary, while TaRiq Bracy slots in at the Field Corner, a position typically reserved for the better cover corner. Given Crawford’s injury history, Rutherford may be counted on heavily at some point during the season. While it is too early to call a starter at the Nickel position, I believe that Rutherford will be a significant contributor this season in relief of Crawford and at the Nickel position.