SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- There's a path for Elijah Shumate to make an impact for Notre Dame this fall, but he's still navigating it.
The sophomore safety is in line to see plenty of playing time alongside Matthias Farley at safety, but admitted he's still learning on the job.
"I'm still a work in progress," Shumate said. "That's what safety's about -- thinking, leading. I still gotta go out and do my job, but I'm going to continue to get better and better."
Shumate is a big-time hitter who primarily saw time in nickel situations as a freshman in 2012, breaking up three passes and registering seven tackles. He has the athletic tools to play safety, but still has some refining to do at the position.
"I don't think that Elijah's nailed down anything," coach Brian Kelly said. "But he's going to be on the field. He's a guy that every day has got to progress, he's got some guys behind him that are playing pretty good."
Those guys Kelly referred to are senior Austin Collinsworth, junior Eilar Hardy and sophomore John Turner. Collinsworth's versatility means Notre Dame can slot him in to either safety position or in dime packages, while Hardy seems entrenched in the two-deep.
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(It's worth noting five-star freshman Max Redfield wasn't included in Kelly's comments, and he wasn't seen much with the ones or twos during Saturday's practice.)
Of that group, though, only Shumate saw playing time in the BCS Championship. Playing nickel, he was burned by Christion Jones, who blew by him running a quick corner route to set up Alabama's final touchdown of the first half.
Plays like that were a reality for Notre Dame against Alabama. And while some players had a specific takeaway from the BCS Championship, Shumate's was broad.
"I just felt like every aspect of my game," Shumate said of where he discovered he had to improve. "There was no specific aspect of my game, I felt I had to improve every aspect."