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.
"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."