Happy Ever After? Tracking Notre Dame's football transfers

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

His NFL future finally has a pulse again, though perhaps little more than that.

But for now former Notre Dame safety Max Redfield is only thinking about the immediate future, specifically finding a way back onto the field for the NCAA Division II national championship game Dec. 16 should his new team, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, get that far.

IUP (13-0) is favored to do so, and hosts West Florida (10-3) in a national semifinal on Saturday. Redfield, named a first-team All-American Wednesday by the American Football Coaches Association, will definitely be a spectator for that one.

The Crimson Hawks’ third-leading tackler suffered a dislocated left hip last Saturday in a 27-22 playoff quarterfinal victory over Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly’s alma mater, Assumption. The injury was feared to be season-ending.

But on Monday, two days after the injury, Redfield had different ideas.

“It’s all good news right now,” he told Matthew Burglund of the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette. “My mindset is that I want to be back for the national championship game if we get there. I don’t know if that’s feasible, but I’m just going to take it day to day and see what happens.

“I’m doing everything I can to get my body healthy. I can stand and walk under my own power, but I’ve got to keep off it for now.”

Redfield, a former five-star recruit, has amassed 78 tackles this season for IUP, with one tackle for loss, four interceptions, nine pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. He is the 19th All-American in IUP history.

His last season of game action at ND was in 2015. He was dismissed from the team by Kelly in August of 2016 after being arrested for and charged with one misdemeanor count of carrying a handgun without a license and a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession.

He pleaded guilty to both charges in March.

And that past still resonates when it comes to his NFL evaluations.

“Redfield has next-level talent,” said draft analyst Scott Wright of draftcountdown.com. “But my guess is he’ll go undrafted due to the off-the-field issue and his recent injury.

“He could sneak into the sixth or seventh round, but he’ll get a shot in a camp one way or another.”

Redfield is one of 40 of the 178 high school prospects Kelly has signed at ND that have eventually transferred. Only two Kelly Era transfers have played so much as a down in the NFL — defensive end Aaron Lynch (South Florida) and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA).

Here’s a look at the other former ND transfers who either played elsewhere in college this season or are sitting out per NCAA transfer rules with remaining eligibility at their new schools:

CLASS OF 2013

• Devin Butler (Syracuse): The second-most notable Devin Butler on the Orange’s roster behind a wide receiver of the same name, Devin M. Butler played in all 12 games as a reserve cornerback this year for Syracuse (4-8).

Butler played primarily nickel for the Orange, recording 24 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and two pass breakups.

• John Montelus (Virginia): The offensive guard played in all 12 games for the Cavaliers (6-6), starting nine of them. Virginia plays Navy in the Military Bowl, Dec. 28 at Annapolis, Md.

• Malik Zaire (Florida): Ineffectiveness and injury limited Zaire to four games at quarterback for the Gators (4-7) in 2017, though he did get two starts under interim coach Randy Shannon, against Missouri and South Carolina, once head coach Jim McElwain was ousted in midseason.

That start against Missouri was Zaire’s fourth college start overall and first since suffering a broken ankle against Virginia in the second game of ND’s 2015 season.

For the season, Zaire was 32-of-56 passing for 349 yards, one interception and zero TDs. That translates to a 105.92 pass-efficiency rating, roughly 17 points lower than Notre Dame starting QB Brandon Wimbush.

Zaire ran the ball 22 times for a net of 39 yards, a 1.8 average.

There is speculation in Gainesville, Fla., that the grad student is mulling appealing to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility to play for recently hired Florida head coach Dan Mullen.

CLASS OF 2014

• Justin Brent (Nevada): The wide receiver-turned running back-turned wide receiver is still having a hard time gaining traction for playing time at his new school.

He made one start and played in six games in 2017, garnering a single reception for 21 yards for the Wolf Pack (3-9).

• Corey Holmes (Purdue): The other wide receiver in ND’s 2014 recruiting class also struggled to climb the depth chart at his new school.

Holmes played in four games as a reserve and made one catch for seven yards before leaving the team on Nov. 6 “to pursue other opportunities.”

• Kolin Hill (Texas Tech): He began the season as a backup rush end on defense but started the final eight games for the Red Raiders (6-6) and earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.

Hill recorded 39 tackles, including a career-high 10 in a 49-27 loss at Big 12 champ Oklahoma. Six of his tackles were for loss, including two sacks. Hill forced four fumbles, recovered one fumble and broke up four passes.

Tech plays South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 23.

• Nile Sykes (Indiana): Sykes didn’t even last a full summer in 2014 before he and ND decided to mutually part ways. The former high school linebacker ended up redshirting at Indiana in 2014, then became a reserve defensive end the next two seasons. He missed the entire 2017 campaign because of an injury but is expected back with the Hoosiers (5-7) next season.

• Jhonny Williams (Grand Valley State): Yes, that Grand Valley State, the one that launched Brian Kelly’s head coaching career.

Williams has transferred twice now, and because of that, he had to sit out the 2017 season. Otherwise, by transferring down a level (FBS to Div. II), he would have skipped the sit-out year. The defensive end is now listed at 6-foot-6 and 278 pounds.

The former Berrien Springs (Mich.) High standout began his college career at ND by redshirting as a freshman in 2014. He transferred after his freshman year to Toledo, and sat out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. In 2016, he played in three games for the Rockets, garnering three tackles.

CLASS OF 2015

• Josh Barajas (Illinois State): Barajas struggled for the FCS Redbirds (6-5), recording four tackles in six games as a reserve linebacker before suffering a season-ending foot injury that required surgery.

• Jalen Guyton (North Texas): Guyton landed at North Texas after a season at Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College. He earned second-team All-Conference USA honors at wide receiver this season after amassing 48 receptions for 764 yards and nine TDs for the Mean Green (9-4).

North Texas plays Troy in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 16.

• Tristen Hoge (BYU): The former Irish center petitioned the NCAA for immediate eligibility in 2017 but was denied, so he sat out the season for the Cougars (4-9) and will likely be a starter in 2018.

• Ashton White (pending): In July the defensive back announced he was leaving the Irish football team but planned to stay at ND and graduate next spring. He then would have two seasons to play at another school as a potential grad transfer.

White said in an email Wednesday that he’s still in the process of sifting through his options and plans to take a couple of recruiting visits in January.

• Mykelti Williams (Northern Illinois): The former Irish safety redshirted his freshman season at ND, then left the university before his sophomore season. He resurfaced at Iowa Western Community College in 2016 and committed to transfer last winter to Syracuse. But in August he was denied admission into Syracuse. He then surfaced at Northern Illinois and was the Huskies’ third-leading tackler in 2017 with 68.

That included a career-high 10 in a 21-17 Huskies victory at Nebraska. Williams also had five pass breakups in 12 starts this season, an interception and a tackle for loss for NIU (8-4), which plays Duke in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26.

CLASS OF 2016

• Parker Boudreaux (Central Florida): Boudreaux transferred to UCF in his hometown of Orlando to be closer to his sister, who’s been battling health issues. Like Hoge, his request for immediate eligibility was turned down.

The former Irish offensive lineman will have three years to play for new UCF coach Josh Heupel, beginning in 2018. The Knights (12-0) play Auburn in the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1.

• Spencer Perry (South Alabama): The Jaguars went 4-8 this season as the former Irish safety sat out the season to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements. He’ll have three years to play, beginning in 2018.

Former Notre Dame safety Max Redfield earned NCAA Division II All-America honors at Indiana University of Pennsylvania this season. (Photo courtesy of IUP Athletics)