CB Nick McCloud commits to grad transfer to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Mike Mickens has kept busy.

Less than a week after receiving his first cornerback commitment from four-star recruit Philip Riley in the 2021 class, the Notre Dame cornerbacks coach added a grad transfer commitment to his cornerback room.

On Monday, N.C. State’s Nick McCloud tweeted his intentions to join Notre Dame’s program for his final year of eligibility.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound McCloud played in only two games in 2019 as a senior because of a knee injury. But the lack of participation preserved a year of eligibility for a graduate transfer.

McCloud, who did not respond to the Tribune’s interview request Monday, would become the third player to grad transfer into Notre Dame this offseason. Safety Isaiah Pryor (Ohio State) and wide receiver Ben Skowronek (Northwestern) enrolled with the Irish in January.

McCloud was an established player in his first three seasons with the Wolfpack. He started 17 games as a sophomore and junior and was named a team captain entering his senior season.

McCloud tallied 34 tackles, seven pass breakups and one interception as a sophomore in 13 games with seven starts. In 11 starts as a junior, McCloud recorded 51 tackles, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. He missed two games in 2018 with an undisclosed injury.

In the season opener of 2019, McCloud made seven tackles and two pass breakups in a 34-6 win over East Carolina. His only other appearance came in a start against Clemson on Nov. 9.

At Notre Dame, McCloud will have a chance to land a starting cornerback position with only two other cornerbacks on the roster — sixth-year Shaun Crawford and junior TaRiq Bracy — having meaningful experience on their résumés. McCloud has actually appeared in more games (37) than either of them due to Crawford’s extensive injury history (25 games) and Bracy’s two seasons of action (24 games). McCloud also brings much needed size to the position.

The 5-9, 180-pound Crawford played in 11 games last season and finished the year healthy for only the second time of his career despite missing two games with a dislocated left elbow. He started eight games and totaled 28 tackles, two pass breakups, one interception and one tackle for a loss.

The 5-10, 170-pound Bracy notched 34 tackles, seven pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 12 games last season with only two starts.

The other six scholarship cornerbacks are either freshmen (Ramon Henderson, Clarence Lewis and Caleb Offord) or redshirt freshmen (Cam Hart, Isaiah Rutherford and KJ Wallace).

McCloud came to N.C. State as a three-star recruit from Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe. Rivals ranked McCloud as the No. 54 safety in the 2016 recruiting class. 247Sports slated him as the No. 93 cornerback.

Notre Dame’s brief history of graduate transfers hasn’t been star-studded. Of the four scholarship grad transfers in the last six years, the most successful was the first: cornerback Cody Riggs in 2014.

Safety Avery Sebastian (California, 2015), wide receiver Cam Smith (Arizona State, 2017) and wide receiver Freddy Canteen (Michigan, 2017) all had limited impacts on the Irish. But Riggs, who transferred in from Florida, started 11 games in 2014, tallied 36 tackles, three pass breakups and one interception and returned punts.

If Notre Dame can get that kind of production out of McCloud in 2020, Mickens will have a much easier job in his first season with the Irish.

Former N.C. State cornerback Nick McCloud, right, announced his intentions to graduate transfer to Notre Dame for the 2020 season. Here he breaks up a pass intended for Notre Dame wide receiver Kevin Stepherson in 2017.
Former N.C. State cornerback Nick McCloud, right, plans to graduate transfer to Notre Dame for the 2020 season. He recorded 51 tackles as a junior in 2018 including this one against Texas A&M’s Kendrick Rogers in the Gator Bowl.