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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 28 Nicco Fertitta, safety

Notre Dame v North Carolina State

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 08: Nicco Fertitta #28 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish breaks up a pass intended for Stephen Louis #12 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the game at Carter Finley Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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Listed Measurements: 5-foot-9, 171 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Fertitta has one season of eligibility remaining, to be used in 2018.
Depth chart: The early enrollment of freshman cornerback-turned-safety Houston Griffith combined with the summer arrival of freshman safety Derrik Allen pushes Fertitta down the depth chart to the third team at best.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star prospect, Feritta joined high school classmate and teammate Alizé Mack in choosing Notre Dame. A U.S. Army All-American, Fertitta also had offers from Arizona, Houston and Utah, among others. rated him the No. 54 safety in the class of 2015 and the No. 4 prospect in Nevada.

For a career reserve, Fertitta has seen consistent playing time, reaching at least 10 games in each of his three seasons to date, largely on special teams.

2015: 11 games; one tackle with a forced fumble against Massachusetts.
2016: 12 games; 17 tackles including half a tackle for loss, adding two pass breakups.
2017: 10 games; 10 tackles.

Fertitta was mentioned only once this spring, as Irish head coach Brian Kelly discussed the depth at safety when Griffith made the position switch halfway through spring practices.

“It just made sense. We wanted to push the competition back there because everyone that talks about our defense knows we need more production from the safety position,” Kelly said April 7. “Whether it’s Nick Coleman, Jalen Elliott, [Devin Studstill] or Fertitta, Houston Griffith, [Jordan] Genmark-Heath. We have a lot of guys now that we can put out there that can push for competition and [Griffith] adds to that list.”

As a senior with few defensive snaps to his name and just as few likely on the horizon, it would have been a surprise if Fertitta had come up more often during the spring.

“More than speed or physicality, it is Fertitta’s height, or lack thereof, which limits him in pass defense. Opponents can throw over him. Kick and punt returners do not have that option, and they are thus forced to encounter Fertitta’s preferences for hitting and hitting hard.

“If nothing else, he will continue to rack up coverage tackles while helping special teams coordinator Brian Polian’s short-handed units. Anything more than that role will come from wrinkles deployed by defensive coordinator Mike Elko.”

If there is a genuine flaw to the 99-to-2 series, it is entries such as this one. Not much changed for Fertitta in the last year. Repeating that entire post would not be the greatest waste of time, especially considering it is only late-June.

If anything, the entrances of highly-sought freshmen push Fertitta further down the depth chart. That has always been a possibility for Fertitta, himself an undersized recruit when he went through that cycle.

He has found his niche, though, in special teams coverage. While those units have disappointed the last handful of seasons, Fertitta has performed since he arrived and those units improved as a whole in Polian’s first year back leading them.

Fertitta will see defensive snaps only in mop-up situations, but he could still end up with a dozen tackles on special teams alone. If he happens to force a fumble with one of his punishing hits — his specialty, size notwithstanding — that could become a career moment all on its own, depending on the time and the place.

This will be it for Fertitta as far as football is concerned. After four years of being only a positive influence for the Irish, he will have plenty of other opportunities awaiting him. The last name Fertitta could even grant him an entrance into the business side of the sporting world right away.

It remains to be seen how much Nicco knows about basketball or mixed martial arts, but his last name certainly remains close to both sports.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 98 Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 68 Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 60 Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically) Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 56 John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 52 Bo Bauer, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 47 Kofi Wardlow, defensive end, sophomore
No. 45 Jonathan Jones, linebacker, junior
No. 44 Jamir Jones, defensive end, junior
No. 42 Julian Okwara, defensive end, junior
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 40 Drew White, linebacker, sophomore
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, kickoff specialist, sophomore
No. 34 Jahmir Smith, running back, early-enrolled freshman
No. 33 Shayne Simon, linebacker, incoming freshman
No. 31 Jack Lamb, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 30 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, sophomore
No. 29 Ovie Oghoufo, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 24 Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman

No. 35 David Adams, linebacker, sophomore

No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer

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