Kelly confident Notre Dame can shoulder Baratti's loss

Kelly confident Notre Dame can shoulder Baratti's loss
August 12, 2013, 6:30 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame will be without safety Nicky Baratti this fall, but coach Brian Kelly is confident the depth at that position can absorb the loss.

Baratti dislocated his shoulder -- the same one which required surgery following the BCS Championship -- during Saturday's practice. He'll require another surgery on the shoulder and will be lost for the season.

"Very disappointed for Nick, he's worked so hard to get back," Kelly said. "But we'll expect the next man in to step up and get it done there."

That next man in will come from a group of four players singled out by Kelly on Monday: Senior Austin Collinsworth, junior Eilar Hardy, sophomore John Turner and freshman Max Redfield. Matthias Farley is locked in to a starting role, while Elijah Shumate is earning first-team reps at the other safety position.

[RELATED: Baratti's dad breaks news of injury on Facebook]

Redfield generates the most buzz of the group, as the Mission Viego, Calif. native came to Notre Dame with plenty of hype as a five-star safety. Still, he's only a freshman, and Kelly cautioned there's still a learning curve for him.

"We know about his ability," Kelly said. "There's going to be a mental end of it that he's going to have to continue to progress there, but physically we feel like he's got the ability. And he'll continue to grow."

Last year, Notre Dame's thin depth at safety -- made even thinner when Jamoris Slaughter went down with a season-ending injury in Week 3 -- meant Baratti saw playing time as a freshman. Against Michigan, he became the first Irish freshman to intercept a pass since 2008 when he picked off Denard Robinson.

Redfield may be talented, but there's experience ahead of him, meaning the door may not be as wide open as it was for Baratti.

[MORE: Without Eifert or Floyd, Irish search for next top target]

"There's more safeties with more experience, so he's going to have to overcome -- he can't just win it on being a great athlete," Kelly said. "… Now we've got much more depth, and it allows us to be much more patient with Max."

Kelly pointed to Collinsworth's versatility as a plus in his favor, and said the oft-injured senior is healthy after dealing with shoulder and back issues last year. He has more experience than any of Notre Dame's other safeties behind Farley and Shumate, even though he hasn't played since 2011.

Hardy has yet to see the field now entering his third year in South Bend, but has been pointed to as a player who made significant strides during spring practice. Kelly said Hardy, along with Turner, have caught he and his coaching staff's eye in the early stages of preseason camp.

"Both those guys -- the old coaching cliche, it's not our job to notice you, it's your job to make us notice you -- we have now noticed Hardy and John Turner," Kelly said.

Kelly expects Baratti to be granted an extra year of eligibility due to his injury, extending his maximum stay in South Bend through 2016.