Notre Dame cornerback Shaun Crawford missed all of his freshman season with a torn ACL that he suffered that August. He missed all but the first two games of his sophomore season with a torn achilles tendon.
Now healthy, the Notre Dame junior seems to be making up for lost time.
Crawford recorded two interceptions and recovered a fumble in the Fighting Irish’s impressive 49-20 win at Boston College last week.
“Well, not having played in two years, I think he’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable with his conditioning, his football conditioning, not conditioning from an athletic standpoint but just playing the game,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters earlier this week. “One of the things that Shaun has always had over other players on our team is, you know, a football sense and instinct, and he’s always been around the ball. He’s been a playmaker.
“I think we’re starting to see that with the performance that he had on Saturday. He’s always around the ball. He’s a guy that is in the center of it, and I think we’re going to see that continue to kind of progress as he really gets all the rust off from not playing over the last two years.”
Straight robbery by the defender pic.twitter.com/m4ITlUEkXF
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 16, 2017
Crawford has played in just 5 games at Notre Dame and he now has 4 turnovers (3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery).
“This is his fifth game and he’s got three interceptions?” senior rover Drue Tranquill said. “The kid is a baller. He’s a great friend of mine. I love Shaun. I really respect him and the work that he does, the preparation that he puts in, and it’s exciting for people to finally see his hard work paying off because, I mean, the two and a half, three years he’s been here, people necessarily haven’t seen all the work he’s been putting in because he hasn’t been on the field much, but it’s cool to kind of see that come to fruition.”
Notre Dame, as a team, has six turnovers through the first three games this season. The Fighting Irish only had 14 turnovers a year ago, which ranked 104th among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Notre Dame and new defensive coordinator Mike Elko, who came over from Wake Forest, made forcing turnovers a point of emphasis going into the 2017 season and now the Irish are starting to see that pay off.
Having a healthy Crawford back on the field has also paid off.
The three turnovers at Boston College will certainly serve as a career highlight for the young cornerback, but also as a glimpse of what he is capable of and the kind of impact he can have on Notre Dame’s defense.
“I think one, as he said, he was surprised that he got thrown to him,” Kelly said. “Another one he was in really good coverage, and I think he listened to his teaching and got his eyes back for the ball and played his technique very well, so I think his discipline, trusting his teaching, put him in a good position. And the third one was Dexter Williams who actually got the strip, and he was in great position.
“I go back to he is always around the ball. He’s very alert. He’s got a sense of the game, and it puts him always in good position.”