Defensive position battles brewing in South Bend

Defensively, Notre Dame has to replace numerous key contributors heading into the 2016 season, including defensive end Romeo Okwara, defensive tackle Sheldon Day, strong safety Elijah Shumate, free safety Matthias Farley and middle linebacker Joe Schmidt, who have all exhausted their eligibility. The Fighting Irish also must replace outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, who elected to leave South Bend a year early for the NFL Draft.

All six players were among Notre Dame’s top 10 tacklers in each of the last two seasons, with a combined 375 tackles between them in the 2014 season and almost 400 tackles last fall. Clearly, Brian Kelly and his assistants have their work cut out for them in the coming weeks as they look to replace such productive personnel.

Fortunately for Kelly and his staff, there are multiple veterans back in the mix this spring in South Bend…