The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are hoping to make a run at the four-team College Football Playoff in 2015 and they appear to have a chance at doing just that on paper.
Head coach Brian Kelly seems to think this could be the best team he’s every coached at Notre Dame, and the Fighting Irish received more good news when they learned that star cornerback KeiVarae Russell has been fully cleared for the 2015 season by the NCAA.
Russell was suspended indefinitely during the academic fraud investigations in August of last year and was one of the five players originally suspended. Russell is one of the best playmakers on the Notre Dame defense and he is going to be asked to fill a huge role immediately.
During the 2013 season with the Irish, Russell played in all 13 games and was a difference maker. He recorded 51 tackles to go along with an interception and eight defensed passes. Those numbers weren’t huge, but he was younger and much less talented than he is now.
Looking ahead at the 2015 season, there is a good chance that Russell will be stepping right into a starting role. He is the type of defensive back that is capable of shadowing any opposing receiver, but can also make tackles in the open field and play more of a safety role as well.
At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Russell will bring a lot of physicality to the Notre Dame secondary as well and he is the type of player that could emerge as a true leader.
Expect to see Russell come back looking to prove a point to the NCAA and Notre Dame. He wants to take out his frustration on the opposing offense that he will face and show the Irish that they made the right choice by sticking by him through the suspension.
There is nothing holding Russell back from being a star this season, and that is exactly what Notre Dame and their fans should be expecting from him.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports