Notre Dame officially adds former Cal safety Avery Sebastian

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The addition of graduate transfer Avery Sebastian was made official by Notre Dame on Wednesday.

Sebastian, a former Cal safety, announced his commitment to the Irish last week. He will join the football program in June.

“Avery Sebastian is an experienced and versatile player," head coach Brian Kelly said in a released statement. "He played safety and contributed on every special teams unit over his career at California. Avery gives us some additional depth in the secondary and also brings a work ethic and excitement to compete that will build throughout the team.”

Sebastian, who graduated from Cal in December with a sociology degree, ended his career with the Golden Bears fighting through injuries. His junior season was wiped out with a torn Achilles in the 2013 season opener. He battled more leg issues in his senior season and played in only seven games.

With a return to full health, Sebastian can provide needed depth at safety for the Irish. Notre Dame returns only four scholarship safeties — Elijah Shumate, Max Redfield, Drue Tranquill and Nicky Baratti — from last season and only two (Shumate and Redfield) finished the year healthy.

Tranquill, a freshman, tore his ACL in November. Baratti, a junior, has been sidelined for most of the last two seasons with shoulder problems. The Irish also added safety recruits Nicco Fertitta and Mykelti Williams earlier this month.

"Avery will help our football team right away, but more important, he is the type of young man that we want in this program,” Kelly said in the university release. “Avery carries himself in a first-class manner, on and off the field. He's also committed to his academics, graduating from both high school and college in three and a half years, respectively.”

Sebastian came to Cal after his senior season at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Ga., the same school that produced Irish defensive lineman Isaac Rochell. Rated as a four-star prospect, Sebastian played in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. ESPN ranked him as the No. 6 safety in the 2011 class, and Rivals ranked him No. 8 at the position. CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming slated him No. 141 regardless of position that year.

His Cal career took a turn for the worst following his Achilles injury in 2013. He played in 23 games and made four starts in his first two years with the Golden Bears and was expected to be Cal’s starting strong safety that season. He recorded 10 tackles and one interception in the season opener against Northwestern before suffering the injury.

Sebastian finished his career with 96 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two interceptions. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound defensive back played in 33 games for the Golden Bears and started six of them.

"I'm very thankful to head coach Brian Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff and administration for giving me the opportunity to come play at the University of Notre Dame," Sebastian said in the release. "I think academically, spiritually and athletically will make Notre Dame a perfect fit. I've got one year to make an impact and I plan on making the most of this opportunity. I look forward to joining the Notre Dame family.

"I'm eager to meet my teammates. Like the coaching staff and players alike, our objective is to field a better product than the year before. My hope is that we field one of college football's best teams this upcoming year. I've got veteran experience in the secondary, and familiarity with multiple defenses and opposing offenses."

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Former Cal safety Avery Sebastian will join Notre Dame in June. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pimentel/GoldenBearSports.com)