Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman enters the NFL Draft pool

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Alohi Gilman said aloha to Notre Dame. This time it meant goodbye.

The senior safety announced Monday night on Twitter that he would skip his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound Hawaii native spent the last three seasons at Notre Dame following a transfer from Navy. After sitting out the 2017 season to follow NCAA transfer rules, Gilman helped transform Notre Dame's safety group into a strength of the Irish defense.

Gilman pursued a transfer out of Navy in order to chase his NFL dream. In 2017, the Department of Defense announced that service academy graduates had to serve at least two years of active duty before applying for a professional sports waiver. Under the previous rule, Gilman would have been able to delay his service to play in the NFL.

Once allowed to play at Notre Dame, Gilman started all 26 games for the Irish the last two seasons alongside fellow senior Jalen Elliott. Together, they helped Notre Dame become a formidable defense against the pass.

The Irish finished the 2018 season with the No. 6 passing efficiency defense in the FBS. Entering Monday, Notre Dame's 2019 defense ranked No. 5 in passing efficiency defense with a rating of 110.15. Before Gilman and Elliott became starters together, the Irish finished the 2017 season ranked No. 46.

Notre Dame will have to replace both Gilman and Elliott — both also captains in 2019 — next season. Elliott exhausted his eligibility in 2019.

Kyle Hamilton will assuredly step into one of the starting safety roles next season following an impressive freshman season. Hamilton finished seventh on the team with 41 tackles despite only starting one game. Hamilton also led the Irish with four interceptions.

Notre Dame added safety Isaiah Pryor through a graduate transfer from Ohio State to compete for a starting job. Pryor, who started seven games and tallied 31 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one interception in 2018, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining at Notre Dame and can play immediately in 2020.

Sophomore safety Houston Griffith moved to safety during the 2019 season with a chance to compete for a starting spot in 2020 as well. The Irish safety depth also includes sophomore DJ Brown and freshman Litchfield Ajavon.

Scott Wright of draftcountdown.com told the Tribune in November that he projected Gilman as a prospect that would be selected between the third and fifth rounds.

“I’d probably lean toward the latter,” Wright said. “He’s really not improved or lessened his stock this season, nor likely would he if he came back to college for another year. He kind of is what he is.”

Gilman recorded 169 tackles, seven pass breakups, six tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles, three interceptions, one forced fumble and one sack in his Notre Dame career.

“My journey has been nothing short of a walk of faith, determination and commitment,” Gilman wrote as part of his NFL Draft declaration. “In 2017, I took a leap of faith in pursuit of something some may say is ‘unrealistic.’ However, here I am again standing up as a tested man of courage, passion and an insane belief in myself. As I have said before, I am a child of God, and through him and tested faith I will continue to walk a written path turning my ‘unrealistic’ dreams into reality!”

Gilman's full statement can be read below.

Alohi GilmanSafety Alohi Gilman played his last game in a Notre Dame uniform in Saturday’s Camping World Bowl. On Monday night, Gilman declared for the NFL Draft.