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.
#4 Nick McCloud, CB
Nick McCloud arrives at Notre Dame as a graduate transfer, having spent four years with the N.C. State Wolfpack. McCloud had been a standout player and was named a team captain heading into 2019, but a knee injury limited him to only two games on the campaign. As a starter in 2018, McCloud had 51 tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions, after having 34, seven and one the season prior as a part-time starter. McCloud played on a pair of N.C. State teams that squared up with Notre Dame in 2016 and 2017, going 1-1 in two games that are each memorable to Irish fans for very, very different reasons.
Coming out of high school in Rock Hill, South Carolina, McCloud was a three-star prospect noted for his athleticism and physicality. He significantly overperformed his high-school projections, earning playing time early in his career (he started the Wolfpack’s bowl game in his freshman season) and becoming a team leader.
At Notre Dame, McCloud projects as a boundary corner, where his size and physical play make him a perfect fit. That skill set is lacking among the experienced corners on Notre Dame’s roster, so his transfer was great news for the program. In addition, he brings a relentless competitive drive and veteran presence to Notre Dame’s cornerbacks group. Props to Mike Mickens for landing a key contributor and potential leader here.
A late addition to the East Dillon Lions football team, Hastings Ruckle helped Coach Taylor and co. fill a key need in the last season of Friday Night Lights. With ideal size and athleticism to play wide receiver, Hastings filled a role that no one else on the roster could have, becoming a crucial #1 target for quarterback Vince Howard and the Lions en route to a state championship.
McCloud plays on the opposite side of the ball from Hastings, but hopes to make a similar impact in bringing an important skill set to the Irish secondary.
McCloud’s transfer gives Notre Dame a lot of flexibility in the secondary. Prior to his arrival, most scouts had TaRiq Bracy slotted into the boundary opposite Shaun Crawford at field. This was not the best fit for either player - Bracy’s speed and stature are much more suited for the field slot, while Crawford seems to have been genetically engineered to play the nickel - but it was the best the Irish could do given limited depth at corner.
With McCloud, a perfect fit for the boundary, on the roster, the Irish can use Bracy and Crawford each at their natural positions, forming an experienced and talented triumvirate. Look for these three to be enforcing a no-fly zone on a field near you in 2020.