A Max Redfield breakthrough could come sooner rather than later.
The safety, rated as a five-star prospect out of high school, saw reps with Notre Dame's second-team defense prior to Saturday's game against Michigan State. On Sunday, Coach Brian Kelly said that Redfield has moved into a top-four option at safety.
He hasn't entered the playing rotation -- comprised of Austin Collinsworth, Elijah Shumate and Matthias Farley so far -- but appears to be knocking on the door.
"We really see a young man that is making the progress that we thought he would," Kelly said. "... He has definitely taken the steps forward that he's getting closer and closer where he could be battling for some playing time. We're really pleased with his progress."
The learning curve for playing deep safety at Notre Dame is steep -- safeties coach Bob Elliott said it "is the most difficult thing a freshman could do, maybe outside quarterback" -- given the communication responsibilities that come with it. But Redfield has loads of natural talent and the kind of ceiling that made him one of the more sought-after defensive players in the last recruiting cycle.
"He's a smart guy, and he's going to be fine," Elliott said before the season. "Now, when is he ready to play in the game at safety, I'm not sure. Maybe it's midseason, maybe it's late in the season."
If Kelly's comments are any indication, midseason could be the target.