Notre Dame Shaun Crawford

Notre Dame Shaun Crawford

Ranking The Irish: #21 - CB Shaun Crawford

Notre Dame veteran cornerback Shaun Crawford should be a key figure in the 2020 Irish defense
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The Top 25 players for Notre Dame in 2020 continues with a look at the most veteran player on the roster, sixth-year senior cornerback Shaun Crawford.

This analysis for the Top 25 Irish players is a combination of talent, expected production, importance of that player’s role and also the value the player brings. The value aspect includes the position played and also the depth chart, meaning who can the Irish least afford to lose.

Let's look at why Crawford is a valuable player for Notre Dame:

MAKING THE CASE

Crawford has been at Notre Dame for quite a long time. He was originally expected to be a freshman starter at the nickel spot back in 2015, but a knee injury ended his season.

Crawford returned in 2016, won a starting cornerback job, started the season off very well, but went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in the second game.

Crawford once again retuned in 2017, and in his first healthy season for the Irish he thrived in the nickel role. He made a start against Navy and played quite well. His clutch playmaking skills were on display all season, with his biggest being the goal line forced fumble against Michigan State that proved to be the biggest turning point in that game.

Crawford was expected to remain in that role in 2018, but once again he was lost for the season with a knee injury, his third season-ending injury of his career.

The third injury was the final straw for me, there was no way Crawford would be able to return from a third season-ending lower body injury, right?

Wrong.

Crawford returned to action in 2019 and once again thrived in the nickel position. He was off just a step, which was expected after a season-ending knee injury, but he had no further leg injuries, and he missed limited time with an elbow injury. 

Crawford finished last season with 28 tackles, two break ups and an interception.

Now a sixth-year senior, Crawford will once again be counted on to provide leadership and playmaking skills as both a nickel and a cornerback. I expect he'll get a step back this season now that he's two years removed from his last knee injury.

The arrival of fifth-year senior Nick McCloud means Crawford doesn't have to be a full-time corner on the outside, which ideally suits his game. Being allowed to move Crawford around is an ideal scenario for the Irish defense.

Crawford is still an athletic player despite all the injuries, but he can maximize his traits by being a smart, instinctive and heady football player. The Ohio native has always been a smart, instinctive player, but now he has three seasons of experience in this defense.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Crawford can't really do anything about the two areas where he must be better. He can't grow taller and he can't force himself to stay healthy. He's had incredibly bad luck, but he's battled back from a number of devastating injuries.

He's learned how to minimize his lack of size as much as he can, now he just needs to stay healthy.

Past Breakdowns:

#25 - Third Linebacker
#24 - Kurt Hinish, DT
#23 - Jonathan Doerer, PK
#22 - Lawrence Keys III, WR

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The Top 25 players for Notre Dame in 2020 continues with a look at the most veteran player on the roster, sixth-year senior cornerback Shaun Crawford.

This analysis for the Top 25 Irish players is a combination of talent, expected production, importance of that player’s role and also the value the player brings. The value aspect includes the position played and also the depth chart, meaning who can the Irish least afford to lose.

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