Notre Dame signs Navy transfer safety Alohi Gilman

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

He grew up in the same Oahu neighborhood as former Notre Dame players Manti Te’o and Robby Toma.

And Friday safety Alohi Gilman decided to follow in their footsteps to a degree.

The 6-foot, 195-pounder who recently completed his freshman year at the U.S. Naval Academy, announced Friday he is transferring to Notre Dame. He's expected to start classes at ND on June 19, when most of the Irish freshman class arrives.

“I’m extremely grateful to be a part of the Notre Dame family,” Gilman said in a statement. “I’m thankful to the coaching staff and the man above for not only believing in me, but also providing this opportunity. I’m excited for this next chapter in my journey.”

Safety is Notre Dame’s biggest position of need, both in quality and quantity. New Irish defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s scheme employs a rover, which is most-often manned by safety types.

“First of all, Alohi is a great fit here in terms of his character and also what he wants to achieve academically,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “Clearly, that’s primary in our recruiting.

"Secondly, in terms of his football fit, we got a good look at him against us last season. He plays the style of safety we want in this program. Alohi’s a run-and-hit safety that fits perfectly in the Mike Elko defense.”

Navy’s second-leading tackler from 2016 will have three years of eligibility for the Irish. By NCAA rules, he’d have to sit out the 2017 season, though it’s possible he could petition the NCAA for immediate eligibility.

“Known him and his family for years! Great kid!” Toma said in a direct message of the fellow Laie, Hawaii, product. “ND would be lucky to have him!”

While Toma attended private school at Punahou on the other side of Oahu and Te’o spent three of his four high school years there, Gilman played at North Shore public school power Kahuku, the alma mater of former Notre Dame defensive lineman Kona Schwenke. Te’o played his freshman season there as well.

Gilman played in 14 games for the Mids last season, including 12 starts. He played cornerback, free safety and strong safety, amassing 76 tackles — 12 of which came in 28-27 Navy victory over the Irish, Nov. 5 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Following his freshman year, Gilman decided that Navy wasn’t the right fit. He told The Capital Gazette that he lacked a desire to become a Naval officer.

“I enjoyed everything about Navy,” Gilman told the paper. “I got a great opportunity to play and felt like I made the most of it. It was a really fun freshman season and very rewarding that I could help the team do well. Everything about football at Navy was awesome.”

Gilman attended the Naval Academy Prep School between his senior season at Kahuku and his freshman year at the Naval Academy. According to navysports.com, Gilman was also recruited by Air Force, Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV, Utah, Utah State and Weber State.

Gilman’s addition puts Notre Dame at 84 scholarships, one under the NCAA maximum.

#WeAreND

— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) June 9, 2017

Congrats @alohigilman and welcome to the family! #GoIrish#NotreDame

— Aaryn Kearney (@AK_aaryn) June 9, 2017

Aloha to my man! ☘ We are so proud to welcome him! https://t.co/yLViScWK4l

— Brian Polian (@BrianPolian) June 9, 2017

pic.twitter.com/VlsJyVyJh9

— Brian Polian (@BrianPolian) June 9, 2017

Officially Committed to Notre Dame. Thank you to ND for giving me this opportunity. #GoIrish ☘️ pic.twitter.com/YWQ3vTHZI9

— Alohi Gilman (@alohigilman) June 9, 2017

Navy safety Alohi Gilman (1) tries to tackle Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (6) in Navy's 28-27 win over the Irish last season. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)