Notre Dame improved their secondary for the future last week with the commitment of Philip Riley, a 4-star prospect. The Irish improved their secondary for the immediate future on Monday by landing NC State graduate transfer Nick McCloud.
McCloud will compete for playing time from day one at Notre Dame after starting 21 games at NC State over the last three years. McCloud was even named a captain in 2019 before he missed most of the season due to a knee injury he suffered in the season opener against ECU. He played in just one game in 2019, resulting in a medical redshirt.
beyond grateful for the opportunity!
ready to get to work! 🍀 pic.twitter.com/qBMmQx8AYj
— Nick McCloud (@NickMcCloud4_) May 11, 2020
Throughout his career, McCloud picked off three passes, racked up 105 tackles, and defended 20 passes.
McCloud is a versatile corner who can play multiple positions – a skill that will come in handy as Notre Dame looks to rebuild its secondary after losing three of its 2019 starters to the NFL.
Notre Dame had a significant need at cornerback for the 2020 thanks to some questionable recruiting at the position over the last few years. Before McCloud decided to transfer to Notre Dame, the Irish had Tariq Bracy and Shaun Crawford as the only corners returning with any starting experience. Outside of Bracy and Crawford, the Irish bring back sophomore Cam Hart (a converted wide receiver), KJ Wallace, and Isaiah Rutherford. None of them played enough in 2019 to use a year of eligibility.
Notre Dame does have three freshmen corners on the roster for the fall, but none were considered day-one, instant impact that prospects though Caleb Offord and Ramon Henderson enrolled early. What those two got out of early enrollment is questionable though given Notre Dame had just one practice before the coronavirus shut down spring ball.
Look for McCloud to challenge for a starting spot at corner. Even if he doesn’t end up starting, he gives Notre Dame some great insurance should Shaun Crawford suffer another injury in 2020. He’s been oft-injured throughout his career but returns for a 6th year this fall following a reasonably healthy season in 2019 – at least compared to the other serious injuries he faced in seasons prior.
Notre Dame’s secondary will look very different in 2020 with McCloud, Bracy, and Crawford vying for playing time at corner and Ohio State graduate-transfer Isaiah Pryor and junior Houston Griffith fighting for time at safety. In fact, the only real known in the secondary at this point is sophomore Kyle Hamilton, who is considered one of the best returning safeties in all of college football.
While there are a lot of questions, there is also a lot of talent for DC Clark Lea, safeties coach Terry Joseph, and new cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens to work with. With all of the new faces, the lack of spring practice and any potential challenges with fall camp loom large, but assuming practice isn’t too limited, there’s some reason for optimism despite all the lost production.
Notre Dame now has three graduate transfers on the roster for 2020 with McCloud joining Pryor and Northwestern wide receiver transfer Bennett Skowronek. The Irish could potentially add a 4th with Stanford running back Trevor Speights considering Notre Dame as well.