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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 7 Derrik Allen, sophomore safety


Listed Measurements: 6-foot-1 ½, 220 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Allen has four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.Depth chart: Barring injury, Allen will not crack the Irish starting lineup with seniors Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott around, but he should provide a buttress for the elder duo that was completely absent last year.Recruiting: The consensus four-star prospect looked past offers from Florida State, Ohio State and his homestate Georgia to land with Notre Dame. The No. 7 safety and No. 66 overall player in the class, per, the U.S. Army All-American’s initial commitment was so strong, North Carolina and current Irish safeties coach Terry Joseph immediately, albeit reluctantly, gave up the pursuit.

Allen preserved a year of eligibility as a freshman, even though he was arguably a second-string safety, underscoring how little (read: no) support the starters had.

Allen then led the Notre Dame secondary with seven tackles in the Blue-Gold Game.

Allen arrived last summer a prized recruit at a position of need. So why did he not see any playing time? It would be unfair and reductive to say Allen is already trending the wrong way.

“When you say, has the light gone on, you’re living in a world where it’s either on or off,” Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea said in April when discussing Allen. “He has benefited a ton from having a lot of reps this spring. There are times where he cut weight, he had to lose some weight, and he met that challenge as spring camp went on.”

Worrying about the off-field factors and overall inconsistency has made it difficult for Lea to precisely ascertain Allen’s actual progress.

“As a safety, to make plays, you can’t be thinking about necessarily what your landmark is, what your read is,” Lea said. “Those things need to be ingrained so that you can react to the ball in the air. That’s where Derrik needs to take the next step.”

“(Houston) Griffith’s impressive spring may have skewed Allen’s projections. The odds of both freshmen being counted on for meaningful defensive snaps are slim, but one of them will likely crack the rotation. Arriving six months early gives Griffith that edge, and he seems to have made the most of it.

Yet, Allen will likely still use up a year of eligibility as a freshman. His size and speed alone make him an obvious piece of kickoff coverage units.”

Looking past Gilman and Elliott, Allen has (or, at the least, had) distinct advantages over the rest of the safety depth chart. Sophomore DJ Brown moved from cornerback just this spring, when freshmen Kyle Hamilton and Litchfield Ajavon were still finishing up high school. Allen should, in theory, be a step ahead of them all.

If that proves true, Notre Dame may need him to step forward as a competent reserve. Gilman and Elliott played too many snaps last season. It did not catch up to the Irish, but logging nearly every competitive defensive snap is a dangerous gambit for back-end players, especially for one as physical as Gilman.

If Allen can log even just a dozen worthwhile snaps a week, it will benefit Notre Dame in November. Before that can happen, though, Lea has to trust Allen’s reads, a natural need for a recruit as athletic and well-regarded as Allen was.

Elliott will be out of eligibility after this year, and Gilman will likely join him in chasing the NFL dream. That will toss the four green safeties into a position competition in the spring. Going off recruiting rankings, Allen and Hamilton should emerge, but jumping to that conclusion would be premature.

If Allen can prove himself playable this season, though, that will obviously greatly better his chances of becoming a multi-year starter.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Isaiah Foskey, freshman defensive end, consensus four-star
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle
No. 40: Drew White, junior inside linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, junior kicker
No. 35: TaRiq Bracy, sophomore cornerback
No. 35: Marist Liufau, Hawaiian freshman linebacker
No. 34: Jahmir Smith, sophomore running back
No. 34: Osita Ekwonu, inside linebacker, consensus four-star
No. 33: Shayne Simon, sophomore linebacker
No. 31: Jack Lamb, sophomore linebacker
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, junior linebacker
No. 29: Ovie Oghoufo, sophomore linebacker-turned-defensive end
No. 27: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 25: Braden Lenzy, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 24: Tommy Tremble, sophomore tight end
No. 24: Jack Kiser, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Mr. Indiana Football
No. 23: Litchfield Ajavon, four-star safety, freshman
No. 23: Kyren Williams, early-enrolled freshman running back
No. 22: Kendall Abdur-Rahman, quarterback-turned-receiver, freshman
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, the only returning starting linebacker
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, three-year starting safety
No. 20: Shaun Crawford, defensive back returning from yet another injury
No. 20: C’Bo Flemister, sophomore running back
No. 19: Jay Bramblett, freshman punter
No. 19: Justin Ademilola, sophomore defensive end
No. 18: Joe Wilkins, sophomore receiver
No. 18: Nana Osafo-Mensah, freshman defensive end, consensus four-star
No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, junior receiver
No. 16: K.J. Wallace, freshman defensive back, three-star
No. 15 Isaiah Rutherford, freshman defensive back, consensus four-star
No. 15: Phil Jurkovec, sophomore quarterback
No. 14: Kyle Hamilton, freshman safety, consensus four-star
No. 13: Lawrence Keys, sophomore receiver
No. 13: Paul Moala, sophomore safety-turned-linebacker
No. 12: DJ Brown, sophomore cornerback-turned-safety
No. 12: Ian Book, starting quarterback
No. 11: Alohi Gilman, senior safety
No. 10: Chris Finke, fifth-year receiver, second-year starter
No. 9: Cam Hart, freshman receiver
No. 9: Daelin Hayes, senior defensive end
No. 8: Donte Vaughn, senior cornerback
No. 8: Jafar Armstrong, starting running back, junior
No. 7: Brendon Clark, freshman quarterback