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The former Irish safety joined the staff this season as a graduate assistant, but he’s already taking on a very specific role: working with Notre Dame’s deep stable of safeties.
In his spring-opening press conference, Kelly expressed the faith he has in McCarthy to take on a larger role.
“When we interviewed him and I interviewed him, he's a guy that can stand on his own two feet in front of a room, and he can coach,” Kelly said Feb. 28. “And even though he's labeled as a graduate assistant, we feel like he's a guy that can really go back there and coach at a high level.”
Sure enough, when Notre Dame broke off into individual position drills Saturday about 15 minutes into practice, McCarthy alone was leading the safeties while defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks was with the cornerbacks.
It’s only one portion of one practice, but expect McCarthy to continue to lend his expertise to the Irish safeties. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this position group, which is among the deepest on the team.
Graduate student Austin Collinsworth and sophomore Max Redfield have been working with the first-team defense, but senior Eilar Hardy and juniors Elijah Shumate and Nicky Baratti are experienced. Sophomore James Onwualu has also seen reps as both a safety and linebacker (in sub packages) after switching from wide receiver to safety this spring.
As a fifth-year senior in 2009, McCarthy led the Irish with 101 tackles and five interceptions, following up his 2008 season, when McCarthy started all 13 games at strong safety and tallied 110 tackles, to become the first Irish defensive back to reach the century mark in a single season.