SOUTH BEND — Austin Collinsworth was anticipating a breakout season,
at one point last spring, predicting All-America status for himself.
That chance to merge that vision with reality has been deferred by at
least four months and perhaps longer after the Notre Dame junior
safety underwent shoulder surgery earlier this month. Now the Irish
are looking for their next rising star at the position.
Notre Dame director of football sports information Brian Hardin
confirmed Wednesday that the 6-foot-1, 202-pound junior from Fort
Thomas, Ky., is expected to miss a significant portion — or possibly
all — of the 2012 football season.
Collinsworth suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during ND’s
wrap-up to spring practice, the Blue-Gold Game, on April 21. When the
condition didn’t improve with rest, surgery was scheduled. Recovery
time is projected to be four to six months.
Collinsworth collected 18 tackles last season in a reserve role and as
a special teams standout. His role was expected to expand
significantly this season, however, especially in nickel packages.
There was even a thought he might start, allowing incumbent starter
Jamoris Slaughter to move to cornerback if depth or performance became
an issue at that position.
The Irish do have numbers at the safety position. Including Chris
Badger, back from a 21-month Mormon Mission, and four incoming
freshmen, ND head coach Brian Kelly has 11 healthy safeties on the
Kelly, who underwent back surgery himself Thursday, was not available
Fifth-year senior Dan McCarthy and sophomore Eilar Hardy, the latter
of whom missed last season with an injury, may be best positioned to
move into Collinsworth’s role on defense.
Former walk-on Chris Salvi, a fifth-year senior and Bengal Bouts
boxing champ, and freshman Elijah Shumate, the most polished of the
newcomers, will likely get long looks in fall camp.
The Irish open training camp Aug. 4. Notre Dame kicks off the 2012
season Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland, against Navy.