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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 26 Ashton White, safety


Listed Measurements: 5-foot-10 ½, 197 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Junior with three years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season
Depth chart: After switching from cornerback to safety, White did not move up the depth chart much, if at all. He is currently the third option at the field safety position, behind junior Nick Coleman and sophomore Devin Studstill with freshman Jordan Genmark-Heath getting ready to possibly pass him next month.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star recruit, White originally committed to Virginia Tech before switching his decision to Notre Dame. A Washington, D.C., product, nearby schools who saw White seemed to offer him scholarships quickly, much as the Irish coaches did after seeing White on campus in camp. White chose Notre Dame over the likes of Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio State.

After preserving a year of eligibility in 2015, White played in six games last season, making two tackles. He played in the year’s first five games, and then only one (Miami) of the final seven.

When defensive coordinator Mike Elko came to join Irish coach Brian Kelly’s staff, the most-frequently asked question hinged around Elko’s rover position, a linchpin of his scheme. Balancing the duties of a linebacker stopping the run and a safety defending the pass, the player lining up at rover could change based on the opponent’s tendencies. With that in mind, Elko included White as a possible option in certain scenarios.

“A lot of that is dictated by who that guy is lined up [against] and what we’re trying to do,” Elko said the day before the Blue-Gold Game. “We’re going to see a lot of really talented slot receivers. We’re going to have to match up and cover them well. There’s names other than the big linebacker/safety bodies to put at that position.

“Nick Coleman has done that some this spring. Ashton White has done that some this spring. … That is all-encompassing in that position.”

(Note: White’s 2016 A-to-Z entry came the week immediately following White’s arrest, along with four teammates, in Fulton County, Ind. Safety Max Redfield was quickly dismissed from the team. The discipline of the other four, including White, would be handled within the team, Kelly said.)

I expect White and the other three guys in the car to serve a suspension that’s give-or-take two games And from there, I expect him to fight his way back into the rotation — starting outside the two-deep at cornerback but immediately in the mix on special teams game.

“White plays with a brashness and confidence that you have to appreciate. If he can survive the boneheaded decision he made, I think he’ll take advantage of the second chance and become a situation contributor. But it’s certainly a black mark on his record, and one that makes you wonder about his decision-making skills.”

White did not exactly impress last season at cornerback, and the same can largely be said for his spring at safety. Admittedly, that latter half is partly due to Coleman’s surge at safety, repeatedly earning Kelly’s praise — in fact, whenever a question was asked about the two cornerbacks who made the switch, Kelly would spend so much time discussing Coleman’s success, the White portion of the query would be forgotten. It is also partly due to White’s own struggles.

The obvious piece for him this fall would be to aid special teams coordinator Brian Polian’s units. Other than that and a litany of injuries, though, it is hard to see him finding much playing time. If Notre Dame desperately needs a rover against a pass-heavy attack, it will likely switch to a pseudo-nickel or –dime package, allowing sophomore cornerback Julian Love to roam the middle of the field and perhaps Coleman or boundary safety sophomore Jalen Elliott the chance to man the middle at rover. In that hypothetical, White remains the odd man out.

White arrived on campus with Coleman and junior cornerback Shaun Crawford. A year later, six more defensive backs showed up, five of whom saw playing time as freshmen. Someone was inevitably going to fall to the back of the pack, and it appears to have been White and sophomore safety D.J. Morgan.

The switch to safety was an attempt to see if White’s skillset better served there. It may yet still, but until that revelation occurs, it is hard to project White moving up a depth chart already filled with players his age and younger ahead of him.

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. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)

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