The Notre Dame Fighting Irish received some much-needed experience on the defensive side of the ball.
Former Florida defensive back Cody Riggs’ transfer to South Bend was made official Wednesday morning, per UND.com. He is expected to join the program in June.
While there is no doubt the fifth-year senior can play, what exactly will his impact be on Notre Dame’s secondary?
A Versatile Playmaker
A 4-star prospect out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Riggs was the No. 6-ranked cornerback in the class of 2010.
Although he may have never lived up to early expectations, there’s no doubt that Riggs put in work. In 12 games last season, he recorded 51 tackles (6.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks and three passes broken up.
After making the switch to safety at the beginning of the season, Riggs was an instrumental piece of the secondary.
With his help, the Gators ranked No. 7 against the pass (171.8 YPG). Furthermore, the unit conceded just nine passing touchdowns all season—only Louisville allowed fewer.
What Riggs lacks in size—he stands at 5’9” and 190 pounds—he makes up in physicality. Over 26 starts for Florida, Riggs was known for finishing tackles in open space and being tough against the run.
That kind of talent and athleticism is a welcome addition to the Irish secondary.
He Fills a Need
The offseason was certainly unkind to Notre Dame’s defensive depth.
Not only did the team lose defensive end Stephon Tuitt and defensive tackle Louis Nix to the NFL draft, but the Irish also lost four starters to graduation. In total, the defense is set to return just five starters.
Who will start at CB in 2014?
To make matters worse, safety Austin Collinsworth is the only returning senior for the unit.
With the addition of Riggs, Notre Dame will be getting a player with experience that could step into a leadership role for a young defense. Not to mention, Bennett Jackson’s graduation leaves a glaring hole at cornerback.
“Cody Riggs is an outstanding player,” said head coach Brian Kelly, via the release on UND.com. “Cody definitely brings veteran leadership and versatility to our team and defense. He will help us immediately.”
Although soon-to-be sophomores Cole Luke and Devin Butler played well last season behind Bennett, it seems Kelly prefers to go the route of experience.
Summing It All Up
Snagging Riggs was certainly a win for the Irish this offseason.
After losing Bennett to graduation, it must be nice for Kelly to bring in another guy capable of filling that role immediately—especially when that guy is coming from one of the top secondaries in the SEC.
To its credit, Notre Dame’s secondary had success of its own last season—the unit ranked No. 15 against the pass (198.2 YPG).
Adding in Riggs, along with three other returning starters, only makes the Irish’s secondary that much better.
Better think twice before throwing the ball on these guys next season.