BYU's Chris Badger excited for return to Notre Dame

BYU's Chris Badger excited for return to Notre Dame
November 20, 2013, 9:00 am
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If it's not a unique scenario, it's certainly a rare one.

On Saturday, BYU safety Chris Badger won't just take the field against his former team, but he'll face Notre Dame only three months removed from transferring from South Bend, Ind. to Provo, Utah. Badger, a sophomore, went through preseason camp with Notre Dame but transferred only a few days before the Aug. 31 season opener.

A personal family matter led Badger back to his hometown of Provo. He was granted a waiver to play for BYU this season and has mainly served on kickoff coverage with some work as a reserve safety mixed in.

But Notre Dame fans need not worry: Badger doesn't think he can lend any inside information on the inner workings of Bob Diaco's defense to his BYU teammates.

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"When you watch the film, it's not hard to tell what coverages are, things like that," Badger said in a phone interview Tuesday. "It's really similar to a lot of things we do here. Everything that the coaches are game planning, it's from the film this year. Things change and things are different, so there's really not a whole lot.

"I'm not saying I'm not a smart guy, but there's really not a whole lot of insight I'm providing, to be honest."

Coach Brian Kelly said earlier on Tuesday he wasn't concerned about Badger's knowledge being a problem, too, so it's a moot point.

Badger was a member of Kelly's first recruiting class, signing with the Irish in 2010 despite committing to a different regime. He always knew he would step away from football go on a mission for the LDS church -- it was the "most important thing I've done in my life," Badger said -- and he only returned to Notre Dame from Ecuador in June of 2012.

Badger didn't play in last year's run to the BCS Championship, so even though he's as old as Notre Dame's current senior class he's only in his first year of NCAA eligibility this year.

It turned out, though, that Badger wasn't a good fit in Notre Dame's defense. While that didn't play a factor in his decision to transfer, it has opened up an easier path for Badger to play at BYU.

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"He was recruited in a different defensive system," Kelly said. "(Charlie Weis' staff was) looking for more of a middle of the field safety that could run the alley from the middle of the field. As you know, we are a two deep safety team that we like to play off the hash a lot more."

At BYU, Badger feels better suited to a role that involves aggressively defending the run more than he would've at Notre Dame. He hopes to compete for a starting role next year after incumbent safety Daniel Sorensen graduates, and if all goes well could be a three-year starter in Provo.

For now, Badger's looking forward to catching up with some of the guys he's close with on Notre Dame -- Danny Spond, Romeo Okwara, Joe Schmidt, Joe Romano and Conor Cavalaris, to name a few.

Without Badger bringing any trade secrets with him to South Bend, having a chance to start next fall at BYU and Notre Dame having seemingly-solid safety depth, his transfer looks like a win-win for all parties involved.

"I'm really happy with my time at Notre Dame," Badger said. "It was a positive experience, I loved it there, I loved the people and the school. I definitely had a great time last year."