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Safety DJ Brown announces return in 2023, giving Notre Dame three returning DB starters

Stanford v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - OCTOBER 15: DJ Brown #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks on against the Stanford Cardinal during the first half at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2022 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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Notre Dame’s secondary will return three starters next season with safety DJ Brown announcing late Sunday night that he will play a sixth season in the Irish defensive backfield. The final season of eligibility is available to Brown via the universal pandemic eligibility waiver.

With cornerback Cam Hart already coming back for a fifth season and rising sophomore cornerback Benjamin Morrison fresh off a debut campaign with nine starts, Notre Dame’s back line will have a healthy amount of experience in 2023. And that does not even factor in Oklahoma State transfer Thomas Harper.

Between Brown, Hart, Morrison and rising senior safeties Ramon Henderson and Xavier Watts, the Irish can claim 58 returning starts in its 2023 secondary. Add in Harper’s eight from the Big 12, and Notre Dame will enter the season with more faith in its passing defense than it has arguably had either of the last two years despite an All-American safety strolling the back line each season.

Brown led all Irish defensive backs in 2022 with 48 tackles, starting 10 games and breaking up two passes. If granting the assumption that there were 26 starts to be had for Notre Dame safeties in the season, the remaining 16 were split among Henderson (2), Watts (4) and Brandon Joseph (10). Joseph has announced he will head to the NFL next season, making Brown’s return all that much more needed for the Irish.

Otherwise, the current depth chart includes only rising junior Justin Walters and his four career tackles.

The combination of Henderson’s range and Watts’ physicality, as well as Harper’s physicality, will give Notre Dame some ability to disguise coverages with interchangeable pieces. Rising sophomore Jaden Mickey should provide further coverage comforts.

QB Drew Pyne (Arizona State)DL Osi EkwonuTE Cane Berrong

QB Sam Hartman (Wake Forest)WR Kaleb Smith (Virginia Tech)S Thomas Harper (Oklahoma State)K Spencer Shrader (South Florida)

TE Michael MayerOL Jarrett PattersonDE Isaiah FoskeyDE Justin AdemilolaS Brandon Joseph

WR Braden Lenzy

LS Michael VinsonWR Matt SalernoS DJ Brown

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