After three straight spots were filled on the offensive side of the ball, we move back over to the defense for our #12 player on our countdown of the top 25 players of the 2013 Notre Dame football roster. The #12 player on our list came out of nowhere last year to start 11 games for the Fighting Irish at safety – Matthias Farley.
Originally recruited as a raw wide receiver, Matthias Farley was converted to safety last spring partly due to a lack of numbers in the secondary. Most thought the North Carolina would take some time to learn the position and study behind Jamoris Slaughter. When Slaughter went down with a season ending injury against Michigan State, however, Farley was thrust into the starting lineup and force to learn the position on the fly.
Farley’s first start of the season came at home a week later against Michigan. Three weeks later with ESPN College Gameday and Stanford in town for an epic showdown, Farley picked off the first pass of his career as he helped the Irish defense with 8 stops against the Cardinal.
By the end of the season, Farley recorded 49 tackles with a career high 9 coming in Notre Dame’s regular season finale win over USC that clinched a spot in the national championship. As Farley heads into his second season as a starter, expectations are raised for the former wide receiver now that’s he had a full off-season to digest the trial by fire he went through last year.
Why Matthias Farley could be ranked higher
Farley is a freakishly good athlete. That much was evident last year when he was able to hold his own despite learning a new position and playing at a high level at times throughout the season.
Now that Farley has had time to review all of the film of his 2012 performances and fully adapt to the defensive side of the ball, it is realistic to expect Farley to take a big step forward in 2013. The experience he gained in 2012 will be invaluable to his development for 2013 and beyond.
Because of Farley’s athleticism, he has the ability to play at a very high level if he is able to reach his full potential. He still has a ways to go, but if he is able to put it all together for the Irish before all is said and done, he’ll continue the recent string of solid safety play for the Notre Dame defense. That may not happen this year as Farley has three year of eligibility left heading into the season, but this is a player with a very high ceiling.
Why Matthias Farley could be rank lower
While Fsarley is very athletically gifted and has a very high ceiling, he still does have quite a ways to go to fully reach his potential. As impressive as his performance was in 2012 given his lack of experience heading into the season, there were still times where he looked every bit like a converted wide receiver playing on the defensive side of the ball.
Farley had the interception against Stanford, but wasn’t a huge factor in Notre Dame’s passing defense the rest of the season. He should be much more comfortable and in position to make plays in 2013, but it is no given that Farley will improve just because of the experience he gained last year.
Farley will be playing in what is now a very experienced secondary, but he will also not have the luxury of playing next to a veteran like Zeke Motta at safety this year. Instead, Farley will be asked to be the experienced one helping a first time starter – likely sophomore Elijah Shumate. How Farley responds to that added responsibility will determine if Farley is ranked too high or too low in these rankings.
What would a successful 2013 season be for Matthias Farley?
While playing in all 13 games and starting 11 contests last year, Farley picked up 49 tackles and an interception. Given Farley’s lack of experience in 2012, a successful season in 2013 will start with those numbers as the floor for his performance. Assuming he stays healthy and starts all 13 games this year, a 60+ tackle and multiple interception performance should be expected of a returning starter like Farley.
Where Farley can really improve from 2012 aside from being more of a force in the passing game is in the negative play department. Farley didn’t have a single tackle for loss or sack last year. With his athleticism, Bob Diaco should be able to let him loose from time to time on safety blitzes to create some plays behind the line of scrimmage this year.
Farley likely won’t reach his full potential this year since he is still fairly new to the defensive side of the ball, but he will still be a big play maker for a defense full of impact players.
The rest of our countdown so far:
#13 – Troy Niklas – TE
#14 – Tommy Rees – QB
#15 – Amir Carlisle – RB
#16 - Danny Spond – ILB
#17 - Dan Fox - ILB
#18 – Jarrett Grace – ILB
#19 – Greg Bryant – RB
#20 – Christian Lombard – RT
#21 – Elijah Shumate - S
#22 – Jaylon Smith - OLB
#23 – Ishaq Williams – OLB/DE
#24 - Max Redfield - S
#25 - CJ Prosise - WR