One of the main goals for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this offseason was to add depth to their safety spots. There was perhaps no other position where the team needed more help. On Wednesday, the team officially announced that former California safety Avery Sebastian will be transferring to South Bend for the upcoming 2015 season. It’s great news for head coach Brian Kelly, and the team took a step in the right direction to fix their glaring issue.
The fifth-year transfer spent four years at Cal, but he was lost for the entire 2013 season due to an Achilles injury and only played in seven games last year. After recuperating and weighing his options the past few months, Sebastian wisely decided to transfer to Notre Dame for his final collegiate season.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound safety will have the opportunity to immediately compete for a starting position. The Fighting Irish’s depth chart at safety most notably includes Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate, both of whom struggled consistently last season. Drue Tranquill may also be in the mix, but he’s coming off a torn ACL that he suffered last November. Nicky Baratti is on the roster, although he’s recovering from numerous shoulder injuries of his own.
On Signing Day, Kelly was also able to reel in a key safety recruit in Mykelti Williams. He was the No. 16-ranked safety in the nation and the No. 237-ranked player in the 2015 recruiting class overall, per Rivals.com. He’ll be given chances to prove himself, but it may be too ambitious to expect him to be a consistent starting-caliber player next season.
In Sebastian’s career at Cal, he started six of 33 career games and registered 96 total tackles. He also added two tackles for loss, two interceptions and one forced fumble as a Golden Bear. He’ll be the second fifth-year player to transfer to Notre Dame in the last two seasons, joining 2014 starter Cody Riggs, who transferred from Florida.
The combination of Notre Dame’s illustrious history and their obvious need at safety were likely two of the major reasons for his ultimate choice. The lack of depth at the position for the Fighting Irish has now been filled, at least on paper.
It should be an interesting battle for the two starting safety spots next season. Regardless, Sebastian’s veteran presence and leadership will have a strong impact on the team’s group of defensive backs.