As we continue our countdown of the top 25 players on the 2013 Notre Dame football roster, we hit our first true freshman on the list – 5-star safety super recruit Max Redfield.
Max Redfield committed to Notre Dame last January after previously committing and subsequently decommitting from arch rival USC. Redfield’s commitment was part of a wave of recruiting momentum that carried Notre Dame through the BCS disaster and the whole Manti Te’o scandal. His commitment also gave Notre Dame a pledge from a 5-star defensive back for the first time since Gerome Sapp over a decade ago.
Redfield will join a crowded mix at safety when the Irish kick-off fall camp at Shiloh Park next Monday, but with his talent and pedigree, he has the opportunity to see the field very early on in his Notre Dame career.
Why Max Redfield could be ranked higher
Simply put, Notre Dame might not have a more talented defensive back on the 2013 roster from a pure talent and potential stand point. Obviously BEnnett Jackson, Keivarae Russell, and Matthias Farely will all have a major leg up on Redfield from an experience perspective, but Redfield might have more raw talent then them all.
Notre Dame has simply not recruited an elite defensive back like Redfield in a long, long time. Jackson, Russell, and Farley all started their careers on the offensive side of the ball and while there has been talk of Redfield moonlighting as a wide receiver at some point in his career, his future lies with the Notre Dame defense.
Redfield will battle it out with Elijah Shumate for the starting safety position opposite Farley along with the likes of Austin Collinworth, Nicky Barati, and Eliar Hardy, but at the end of the day that battle will most likely be Shumate vs. Redfield. Shumate has the advantage of playing as a true freshman a year ago and while he didn’t bring quite as impressive of a resume with him from the prep ranks, he is no slouch from a talent perspective.
We feel like Shumate will ultimately start the season with the starting nod, but Redfield will see the field and figures to be in the mix as a nickel back just as Shumate was a year ago. Lo Wood will be back form injury, but the first year back after an ACL injury is always a tough readjustment and Redfield will just be too hard to keep off the field.
Why Max Redfield could be ranked lower
As a true freshman nothing will be given to Redfield. He will have to earn every minute of playing time and while he might be more talented than some of the upperclassmen he will be competing with, none of them are going to role over and just let the true frosh walk in and take playing time away from them.
If Shumate does indeed win the starting job and the Irish coaching staff decides it wants to go with the experience of Wood as the nickel back, playing time could be scare for Redfield early on in the season and he could be relegated to special teams and mop up duty.
Some very talented defensive back prospects have come to Notre Dame over the years and struggled to have an instant impact before. Tommy Zbikowski “redshirted” as a freshman (although he did play a lot of quarterback in high school), before breaking out as a starter as a sophomore. Sapp, the last defensive back as highly rated as Redfield didn’t seize a starting role in the Irish defense back in the late 90’s either.
What would a successful 2013 season be for Max Redfield
Redfield’s inclusion on this list is based mainly on his talent and potential. Given the relative experience level of the Notre Dame defense and secondary in general, it is very possible that the Notre Dame coaches will want to get Redfield’s dynamic playmaking ability on the field in some capacity. If Redfield comes in and blows the coaching staff away and locks down a starting gig out of fall camp his season would be a roaring success.
The more likely path to success for Redfield this year will be working in some reps at safety as well as nickel back and being a special teams stalwart for the Irish in much the way Bennett Jackson was prior to breaking out last year. Notre Dame is going to need to win games with defense and special teams this year and having Redfield’s ability on the field for special teams will be a plus.
Previous posts in the countdown:
#25 – CJ Prosise – WR