Austin Collinsworth happy to be back in ND’s backfield
By LaMond Pope firstname.lastname@example.org April 3, 2013 11:24PM
Updated: May 5, 2013 3:10PM
SOUTH BEND — Austin Collinsworth wanted to remain involved.
Sidelined last season because of shoulder surgery, the Notre Dame safety took every opportunity he had to give advice to younger players.
How would Collinsworth evaluate his coaching?
“Probably not very good,” he joked on Wednesday.
It’s the classic case of those who can’t do, teach — unless they aren’t very good at teaching, so instead heal up and get back on the field.
Collinsworth is back practicing with the Irish. It took a little longer than the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Collinsworth anticipated.
In addition to the shoulder injury, which he suffered late last spring, Collinsworth had to undergo back surgery in the fall.
“It’s pretty unfortunate, but you’ve got to roll with the punches and take it all in stride,” Collinsworth said. “Now I feel great. I can’t be mad about anything. It all happens for a reason. I’ll be all right.”
Collinsworth, the son of former NFL wide receiver and current football analyst Cris Collinsworth, had 18 tackles as a sophomore in 2011. He was named Notre Dame’s Special Teams Player of the Year. He had a strong spring in 2012, but suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during the Blue-Gold Game.
In all likelihood, the injury would have left him out of action for the entire season. The back injury made that fate certain.
Collinsworth injured his back while doing a deadlift in “late October, early November.”
“When I first did it, I didn’t think it was that bad,” he said, “but it got progressively worse and it wouldn’t heal, so I had to take care of it.”
Collinsworth said he underwent a microdiscectomy in late November.
He felt completely healthy “about three weeks ago.”
“It makes you appreciate the game,” Collinsworth said. “This was the first time I didn’t play football since I was 9 or something. Sitting on the sidelines, I was thinking ‘I really love this game. I really enjoy being out there.’ Now, going out there and practicing is fun for me. It’s been a little life-altering.
“An injury resets your perspective on it.”
He’s part of a young group of safeties.
“Austin, this time last spring, was dominating. To have him back, to have him healthy is a huge asset for everybody,” safety Matthias Farley said. “He can play either safety position and he’s good at both. And he has game experience. He’s had a year break, but he’s back and he’s doing awesome.”
Collinsworth is using the spring to sharpen his skills, and pick up some new ones.
“I’m really trying to understand the defense as a whole now instead of just understanding the free safety position, which is what I did last year,” he said. “I’m getting a much better concept for the big picture.
“… Taking a year off, I really have to knock the rust off. As long as I can do that, going into the summer, I’m going to be great.”