SOUTH BEND – Max Redfield wants to start this Notre Dame football season where he ended last season.
The sophomore had to wait until the Irish’s 29-16 win over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28 to make his first start and contribute to more than special teams.
It was cool for me to get that start under my belt in the Pinstripe Bowl, Redfield said. I know I need to make tons of improvements from there until we get into the next season, but it was great to get that start under my belt. I was really thankful for that, and I feel I’ve been growing ever since.
Redfield played in 12 of 13 games last season, sitting out the second game of 2013 against Michigan. He finished with 12 tackles, including two against Rutgers.
But he did most of his work on special teams as he tried to comprehend the demands on the safeties in former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s system.
Even though the former five-star prospect had hoped to contribute more last season, he said he didn’t let the lack of playing time get to him.
It’s not going to make my day any better or my season any better if I’m going to mope around and be mad toward my coaches and mad toward anyone else, Redfield said. I felt like I would like more time, of course. But I feel like everything happens for a reason. It worked out toward the end of the season, where I got to start the Pinstripe Bowl and I was happy about that.
I feel like things are definitely starting to pick up and have a snowball affect into good things.
Redfield and the rest of the defense are adjusting to a new defense as Brian VanGorder took over the coordinator duties after Diaco left to become head coach at Connecticut.
And just like last season, coach Brian Kelly has praised Redfield’s abilities during this year’s spring practice but is quick to point out the sophomore is still learning.
I don’t think there’s any questioning his athletic ability, Kelly said. There’s still a learning curve there for him in terms of what we’re doing defensively. But he’s such a gifted athlete that it’s so hard to look past his athletic ability, even though he’s chasing No. 2 in the flat when he’s got the deep middle.
We’re still in the learning curve with Max, but he’s so gifted.
Even though it is difficult to learn a second defense in as many years, Redfield is ready to tackle the challenge.
With the new defense, everybody is learning now, Redfield said. I don’t think one person can tell you the defense front and back, as well as the coaches, other than VanGorder.
We’re growing together and learning the defense as one. We’re all on a learning curve, but we’re doing well.