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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 14 Devin Studstill, safety

Notre Dame v Syracuse

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 01: Eric Dungey #2 of Syracuse Orange is on the ground after a late hit by Devin Studstill #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at MetLife Stadium on October 1, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Studstill was ejected from the game after the play. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 198 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
Depth chart: During the offseason, Studstill seems to have slipped behind classmate Jalen Elliott and junior converted-cornerback Nick Coleman in the competition for starting safety honors. Irish coach Brian Kelly often lumped Studstill and Elliott together in discussing the position, but that may have been as much about efficient brevity when discussing two sophomores as it was about them competing for playing time. Studstill is just as likely, if not more, to back up Coleman at field safety rather than solely support Elliott at boundary safety.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star prospect, Studstill enrolled early after choosing Notre Dame from a lengthy list of scholarship offers highlighted by Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Studstill earned his first career start in only the second week of his freshman season, the first of his nine starts last season. Studstill’s chances at starting increased drastically with the dismissal of Max Redfield, but he was already challenging the senior for playing time, if not the starting nod, before the end of Redfield’s Irish career. Studstill finished the season 10th among the defensive tackle leaders. Six of that top 10, including Studstill, return this season.

2016: 12 games, nine starts, 38 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, one forced fumble.

Some of Kelly’s lumping together Studstill and Elliott derived from them both being developing young players learning a new defensive scheme.

“Jalen Elliott and Devin Studstill are still in that programming mode in terms of doing all the little things right for us,” he said in early April. “Fundamentally, they’re getting better. I know [defensive coordinator] Mike Elko really likes those two kids, likes their toughness and their want to play the game. They’re going to be there for us.”

It should be noted Keith wrote this A-to-Z entry shortly before Redfield’s arrest and subsequent dismissal.

“Redfield may be the starter, but Notre Dame is going to need another safety who can play in the open field. And Studstill seems to have earned enough trust to get the staff to believe he’s the guy — though they don’t exactly have a ton of options.

“With depth not making a redshirt logical, getting Studstill experience on special teams is a good start. And then he’ll likely be the next guy in behind Redfield, who has done a nice job of convincing the staff he’s ready to play consistent football, but has yet to show that he can actually do it.”

Studstill’s freshman season was an encouraging one, which makes Elliott’s surpassing him this spring all the more impressive. The same goes for Coleman, but neither means Studstill will not be needed this fall. In many respects, a safety rotation could prove most productive.

Kelly alluded to that concept a few times in the spring, specifically acknowledging down-and-distance situational needs. Passing-specific instances may draw sophomore Julian Love from cornerback, but they could also lead to Studstill joining Coleman on the field, spelling Elliott.

One way or another, Studstill will see plenty of action this season. Exactly when and where will hinge on how the theoretical safety rotation aligns itself next month.

There is a distinct temptation to simply copy-and-paste the “Down the Road” portion of Elliott’s 99-to-2 entry into this same spot. The summary of it: When discussing an inexperienced and shallow group of safeties, do not forget to include mention of Navy transfer sophomore Alohi Gilman. Whether or not he is declared eligible in 2017, he will factor heavily into the safety conversation in 2018.

Suddenly, the inexperienced and shallow group of safeties could be navigating a logjam of young players tested early in their careers. At that point, the performances in those games — plus Gilman’s time in Annapolis — will determine the depth chart more than dazzling in practices will. Studstill’s competence in his chances in 2017 will greatly impact his opportunities down the line.

2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
No. 26: Ashton White, safety
No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back

No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship