Uncle Woodson helps spur Luke's progress for Notre Dame

Uncle Woodson helps spur Luke's progress for Notre Dame
October 4, 2013, 3:15 pm

DALLAS -- Cole Luke is only five games into his career at Notre Dame, but has picked things up at a difficult position fairly quickly.

Luke's mainly played in nickel coverage for Notre Dame this year, a position that forces him to defend both the inside and outside of the field -- something he doesn't necessarily have to do as a cornerback.

He credited his quick study to his uncle, former Cowboys safety and five-time Pro Bowler Darren Woodson. Luke said Woodson not only helped sway him to commit to Notre Dame, but also played a key role in helping him understand what it takes to successfully transition from high school to college.

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"He was there when it came down to game plans, what he used to run back in the day, coverage ability and all that," Luke said. "He was a big help."

It's not just the tutelage of Woodson that's given Luke the opportunity to play as a freshman. The Chander, Ariz. native has loads of natural ability, and teammates and coaches marveled how he married it with a knowledge of the game during fall camp.

"Cole has done a nice job, and I think early on I think is why we went with him, because he was able to pick up and grasp some of the concepts a little bit earlier," coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.

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It's still a learning-on-the-job year for Luke, but his presence -- along with fellow freshman corner Devin Butler -- has given Notre Dame something it didn't have last year: Cornerback depth, and the ability to play more true nickel coverage.

That hasn't necessarily made the secondary better -- it's a unit that's had its issues this year, allowing a pedestrian 230 passing yards per game -- but the potential is there. And Luke is a big part of that.

"Just hard work and dedication can pretty much get me wherever I want to go," Luke said. "It's all about determination and how far you put yourself out there."