According to Pete Sampson of The Athletic, Notre Dame All-American safety Kyle Hamilton had a minor ankle surgery after the 2020 season. Due to that surgery, reports are that Hamilton will be limited during the spring.
Hamilton is expected to be Notre Dame's best defender in 2021, if not the team's best player regardless of position. Notre Dame will need him on the field in the fall, but not having him the spring, or at least having him on a limited basis, could be a blessing is disguise for the Fighting Irish.
Here's what we can say with great confidence about the Notre Dame secondary in 2021 ..... Kyle Hamilton is a star and a game-changer.
Here's what else we can say with great confidence about the Notre Dame secondary in 2021 .... nothing.
The rest of the secondary is loaded with question marks, and that is especially true at the safety position. Other than Hamilton, Notre Dame lacks a proven depth chart at the position, and beyond Houston Griffith there isn't much high-level talent among the returners.
With Hamilton out there is an opportunity to really work and push the rest of the safety depth chart, and it presents a period of time where Notre Dame can rest their one proven star and use the extra reps to work on the rest of the depth chart.
No one could benefit more from this than Griffith, who could be the key to the Irish having a safety lineup that has one great player and a bunch of question marks, or Notre Dame having one of the best safety depth charts in the country.
Griffith is a talented player that has yet to reach his potential as a player. When Hamilton is out that thrusts Griffith into a much bigger role from a leadership standpoint, from a communication standpoint and from a playmaking standpoint.
It is the opportunity that Griffith has been waiting for, and if he steps up he could turn a position that right now is arguably the biggest question mark on the roster into a strength.
It is also an opportunity for DJ Brown to solidify his role in the rotation, and it could provide young players like KJ Wallace, Litchfield Ajavon and early enrollee Justin Walters more reps, which would then give them an opportunity to prove themselves.
Right now the Irish will likely have to use a third linebacker or a third cornerback to fill out the five secondary positions in the Marcus Freeman defense, but Hamilton being limited this spring will give the rest of the depth chart the additional reps they need to improve their game and show they are capable of seizing that spot, which at Cincinnati went to a safety.
With Hamilton sidelined, even on a limited basis, we should know by the end of the spring whether Notre Dame's safety position remains a question mark, or is on the verge of becoming a strength.
For Hamilton, taking a step back from a reps standpoint could allow him to see the new defense from a different perspective, and when he does get back out on the field on a full-time basis it could make him even better.
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