The college football offseason is so much fun because it is all speculation. We can predict what quarterback will be under center in the fall, guess what players will make huge improvements, and analyze the schedule to death. But there are some things that are just impossible to foresee, including every college football team’s worst nightmare: the injury bug.
Last week, Notre Dame received its first bite of the season when we learned that safety Austin Collinsworth is likely out for the season with an injured labrum. His shoulder will require surgery that will force him to miss the entire year (although he would still have two years of eligibility remaining upon his return).
Well, you know the drill: next man in. But given that the secondary is already one of the positions filled with tons of uncertainty this year, the loss of Collinsworth could be especially troubling. Collinsworth is a big hitter, and was expected to have a pretty significant role in the nickel package. He was also a special teams ace last season, racking up 18 tackles.
Perhaps the biggest effect of his injury though is that it ends the experiments of Jamoris Slaughter at cornerback. Slaughter had been cross-training in the offseason just in case some of the young corners don’t play up to expectations. Now, the pressure ramps up even more on the number two corner candidates like Lo Wood and Josh Atkinson. Slaughter had serious position flexibility and would have been a great contingency plan, but that was partly because Coach Kelly had such confidence in Collinsworth at safety. This is what Kelly told Irish Sports Daily in April:
“You do that, as you know, when you think you’ve got another safety,” Kelly said of sliding Slaughter to corner. “We wanted to wait, and we’re really pleased with (Austin) Collinsworth (at safety). That allows us now to look at some cross training and making sure we get the best four players on the field.”
With Collinsworth out, Slaughter is now almost a lock to remain solely at safety this year. But who will fill Collinsworth’s void? My money would be on Chris Salvi, the storied walk-on who was finally granted a scholarship this offseason. However, players such as Danny McCarthy (5th year), Matthias Farley, Eilar Hardy, and Elijah Shumate will also be in the mix.
It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out moving forward, but let’s all just hope for one thing: that that damn injury bug doesn’t come visit this team again.
Love it/Hate it? Let me know in the comments below, or Tweet me @GrantlandX
For EVEN MORE GrantlandX, you can check out all of my past writings here.