Physical Elijah Shumate staking claim at safety for Notre Dame
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media August 21, 2013 11:10PM
SOUTH BEND — Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels caught a pass over the middle during a recent Notre Dame practice.
And then safety Elijah Shumate planted him.
The big hit summed up what Shumate brings to the Irish.
“I’m just a physical person,” Shumate said. “Growing up, I’ve loved to hit. I want to play with that attitude all the time.”
Shumate is in the running for one of the Irish’s starting safety spots. The 6-foot, 213-pounder from East Orange, N.J., has spent time working with the first unit this fall. And that was before the Irish lost Nicky Baratti for the season because of a shoulder injury.
“He’s going to be on the field. I don’t think that Elijah has nailed down anything, but he’s going to be on the field,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “He’s a guy that every day has got to continue to progress.”
Shumate played in all 13 games as a freshman last year, primarily at nickel and on special teams. He had nine tackles and three pass breakups.
“Elijah Shumate (is) certainly a very solid tackler,” Kelly said. “He’s picking up the scope of the defense. He’s got some parts of the defense down very good. He’s got more that he has to learn.
“We do some things defensively that require him to communicate very well. Those are things that he has to grow into, he’s made those strides. But again, a young man that didn’t play very much last year that now is playing a lot more with that first group. Just an evolution process for him. But he’s got all the skills.”
Shumate continues to make the adjustment from nickel to safety.
“It’s a lot of communication, a lot of talking. You have to do a lot of learning,” Shumate said. “That was my biggest problem. The coaches and older players have been helping me out.”
Kelly listed Austin Collinsworth, Eilar Hardy and John Turner among the players competing with Shumate.
“Those other guys are playing well behind him as well, but we’re pleased with (Shumate),” Kelly said. “I don’t think we’re at that point where we’re saying that he’s got anything nailed down. I think we’re still moving along there.”
Collinsworth is the most experienced of the group. But he missed all of last season because of various injuries.
“[Collinsworth is] healthy now, physically able to do the job. (He) wasn’t able physically to do the jobs that we wanted him to do in the spring because he was coming back from two injuries, the shoulder and the back,” Kelly said. “(He) looks good physically. What he does for us is give us great versatility. He can play both safeties. Both positions. Great to have a guy like that with some experience and some versatility.”
He has 25 tackles in 26 career games at Notre Dame.
“This is fun, that’s why we are all out there,” Collinsworth said, “we love the competition.”