If it is possible to surround the surest thing in college football with nothing but questions, Notre Dame has done so in its secondary entering 2021. Maybe that is hyperbolic about rising junior safety Kyle Hamilton, but coming off a sophomore season that ended with multiple first-team All-American honors, it is hard to look at him as anything but an absolute certainty.

Surrounding Hamilton, the Irish will look to a transfer portal toe-dipper to possibly shore up the back end, to a twice-benched senior to become a shutdown corner and perhaps to a few freshmen to chip in on situational snaps.

It was not a sign of depth chart health that the Irish needed to turn to the graduate transfer market for a starting cornerback in 2020, though it was a sign of how college football has changed that Nick McCloud was not only available but also of such quality. Notre Dame would not have enjoyed a 10-0 regular season without McCloud’s stability on the wide side of the field, making 33 tackles in 12 games with one interception and a team-high eight pass breakups. If not for Hamilton, McCloud would have been the best Irish defensive back.