Cam Hart has had an interesting tenure during his short career at Notre Dame, and even before. He will get an opportunity this fall to go from a lightly used backup to a key figure in the Irish defense.
Notre Dame recruited Hart to play wide receiver, but during his prep career he would often say he preferred defense. During his freshman season in South Bend a need arose at corner and he was given a chance to play his preferred position.
Hart entered the 2020 spring with an opportunity to push into the two deep, and possibly battle for a starting job after impressing in limited time at cornerback. Remember, he didn't move to cornerback until the second half of his freshman season at Notre Dame (2019).
The spring being canceled after just one practice was a huge blow for Hart, who needed all the development possible to complete the transition. That never came, but he now has a full year under his belt and he's ready to make a difference.
Hart needed that developmental time and Covid-19 robbed him of that. The diminished offseason kept him from making the necessary strides at corner, and his 2020 season was limited to just 88 snaps on defense and 35 snaps on special teams according to Pro Football Focus.
He showed flashes during his 88 snaps, especially in the two games where he got his most action, which was South Florida and Pittsburgh. During this games Hart also showed that at the time he lacked the necessary technique and experience at the position to be more than a backup last season.
WHAT A BREAKOUT LOOKS LIKE
A full winter, spring session and now summer is going to pay huge dividends for Hart. According to sources his growth from practice one two practice 14 during the spring saw him make tremendous strides both technically, from a confidence standpoint and from and experience standpoint.
Hart got beat on the first play of the Blue-Gold Game on a play where he was in tight coverage but he didn't play the ball effectively, which shows he still has room for improvement. What I loved about his spring performance is that Hart settled in after that play and performed at a very high level.
The rising junior has elite size and length, checking in at 6-2 1/2 and 207 pounds. His strength gains were noticeable from last season to the spring, and he looks thicker and quicker.
What makes Hart unique to me is not just his length, its the fluid athleticism that he shows with it. He has all the physical tools to be a difference maker, but a breakout is going to be determined by the nuanced aspects that he gains. Will he show better route recognition, play with good angles when attacking receivers, use consistent technique in transitions, be disciplined with his reads and of course if he can make plays on the football.
Hart has a chance to be a difference maker in this defense while playing the boundary corner position. If he can become a legitimate force in the boundary the result will be he can matchup with the opponents best players and defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman can also use his safeties in more ways than just protecting the young and inexperienced Hart.
If he's locked in, playing disciplined football and tapping into his potential you'll see Hart get his hands on a lot of football when he is challenged. Limiting big plays will be a key for Hart.
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