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Irish A-to-Z: Nicco Fertitta

Lawrence Cager, Nicco Fertitta

Lawrence Cager, Nicco Fertitta


A pint-sized safety who committed to Notre Dame after camping in South Bend Las Vegas native Nicco Fertitta begins his collegiate career likely with a chip on his shoulder. It could be courtesy of a three-star ranking and some wondering what the Irish staff saw in the undersized defensive back. But more likely it’s just in the nature of the heat-seeking tackler, a pound-for-pound bruiser who seeks out big collisions, eager to prove his skeptics wrong.

Fertitta was joined in his recruiting class by high school teammate and blue-chip tight end Alizé Jones, bringing back memories of the recruitment of Manti Te’o and his tagalong teammate Robby Toma. And like that duo, Toma proved himself to be more than carry-on baggage, something Fertitta plans to do in short order, especially with some depth chart deficiencies at safety.

Let’s take a closer look at Nicco Fertitta.

5'9", 175 lbs.
Freshman, No. 28, DB


U.S. Army All-American, First-team All-State per the Las Vegas Review Journal. State champion, with Bishop Gorman also being awarded a mythical national title.

A three-star prospect, Fertitta chose Notre Dame over offers from Arizona, Hawaii, Houston, UNLV (where his prep coach Tony Sanchez took over the program) and Utah.


There doesn’t look to be a huge growth spurt on the horizon for Fertitta, who’ll have to battle his size throughout his career. But while 5-foot-9 safeties aren’t the norm, there are plenty of undersized defensive backs making a living on Sundays, and even more serving as productive college football players.

Even if he doesn’t have the upside of a Max Redfield, Fertitta is far from a wasted scholarship. He’s a special teams candidate from Day One, and his ability to create plays—and Richter scale-level collisions—make him a guy who might not redshirt.

Ultimately, Fertitta’s speed and instincts will determine how often he plays in the Irish defense. But a natural leader and a player with moxie, he’s going to find a way to help the program while he develops as a football player.


I tend to think Fertitta is going to be one of the freshmen taking the field against Texas come September 5th. He’ll likely be covering kicks and chasing down punts, but Fertitta’s freshman season will hinge on his ability to make big plays in the game’s third phase, something Scott Booker is still looking to establish.

As a safety, Fertitta could also be very helpful in sub-packages. As Notre Dame takes on a heavy dose of run-heavy (and option) offenses in Georgia Tech, Navy, Pitt and Boston College, there’s a place for a run-stuffer with the ability to play in space, and just as Kelly and the Irish used Jamoris Slaughter, Fertitta could be an option at a position that doesn’t have a ton of flexibility.

But any road onto the field as a freshman should be considered a strong debut season for Fertitta.

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB