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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 10:30 pm

Elliott hopes to build on freshman experience

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND — Signed in 2016 out of Lloyd C. Bird High School in Virginia, where he won two state championships, Jalen Elliott arrived at Notre Dame no stranger to big-time football.

The college game, though, is just different, and Elliott got valuable on-the-job training as a freshman, experience that will serve him well as a sophomore in 2017. The 6-foot, 205-pound safety played in all 12 games and made 14 tackles.

"Just being thrown in that fire really allows you to see the game as a young player," Elliott said. "We have one of the best coaching staffs, if not the best coaching staff, in the country, so learning the game isn't really a problem because they're going to teach us very well."

The speed of the game is what takes some getting used to.

"You can practice, and you can practice, and you can practice, but until you get on the field and in the fire that we were in, there's nothing else that can compare to that," Elliott said. "Just learning the speed of the game is really what you have to get used to."

Elliott's performance in a backup role was uneven, to be sure, but things started looking up this offseason.

"Man, I feel a lot more comfortable, definitely," he said. "It's something where, as you see it more, as you rep it more, it becomes more comfortable to you. Seeing it at game speed, playing against some of the best in the country on offense that we have, will really help me in the long run."

A spirited competition at safety has spilled over from spring practice to fall camp. Elliott is battling Nick Coleman, Devin Studsill, Isaiah Robertson and Jordan Genmark Heath for playing time, although you have to believe Elliott is the favorite to start at strong safety.

"We all hold each other accountable," Elliott said. "I think that's a big part of the process is holding each other accountable instead of having to always have (defensive coordinator Mike) Elko have us in order."