Todd Lyght arrived in 1987, ready to be groomed as the heir apparent to Tim Brown. But his coaches had other plans and announced their intention to move him to cornerback. Initially stunned, Lyght remembered his roots, that he was the son of a Police Captain in hardscrabble Flint. He blended discipline with toughness, took the bit and never looked back. Instead of becoming the “next” Tim Brown he became the “original” Todd Lyght. Todd Lyght may have been Notre Dame’s first “lock down cornerback.”
Lyght played more minutes than any other ’87 freshman, and was the most impactful, with 29 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups.
As the Spring of ’88 unfolded, defensive coordinator Barry Alvarez told Lyght of the challenges ahead. Notre Dame’s ’88 schedule was packed with daunting quarterbacks like Demetrius Brown and Michael Taylor at Michigan, Bobby Mcallister of Michigan State, Steve Walsh of Miami, Darnell Dickerson of Pittsburgh, Rodney Peete of USC, and as it would ensue, Major Harris of West Virginia.
The receivers on the ‘88 Irish schedule were also challenging: Greg McMutry. John Kolesar and Chris Calloway of Michigan, Andre “Bad Moon” Rison of Michigan State, Andre Brown, Rob Chudzinski and Randall Hill of Miami, Erik Affholter and John Jackson of USC and Grantis Bell of West Virginia.
Lyght was the starting cornerback and led the 1988 secondary, even as a sophomore. The Irish never lost that year and in a year when the opponents passed better than they threw, he was the cornerstone of the back line of the defense. Todd Lyght got his national championship ring. The 1988 Irish defense allowed only 156 points to all that firepower, the lowest total since Dan Devine’s final year in 1980.
Todd Lyght finished his Notre Dame career strongly, both on the field and by acclaim. Not only was he a consensus first team All American in ’89 and ’90, but he finished his career with 161 tackles, 20.5 passes broken up and 11 interceptions. The 11 picks trails Luther Bradley by 6, but teams simply stopped throwing in Lyght’s direction, a trick they never quite figured out for Luther Bradley.
Todd Lyght, Notre Dame’s first “lock-down corner” now instructs and mentors the next crop of Irish “lock down corners” as Notre Dame’s secondary coach.
- #24 Todd Lyght, Cornerback, 1987-1990
- #25 Louis “Red” Salmon” Fullback 1900-1903