SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Matthias Farley reasons that the story of his career has been adapting to new situations. From scout-team receiver to starting safety in a matter of a year in 2012, the redshirt junior has been all about maintaining flexibility for a defense often offering multiple looks.
So with new coordinator Brian VanGorder aboard for his first spring at Notre Dame, Farley more than welcomed the fresh start that the switch from safety to cornerback could offer him in 2014.
"I had no reservations about it," Farley said. "I'd never been so set in my ways in any way because I've only been playing for such a short period of time. It's definitely going to be a challenge, but I'm very, very excited about it."
Farley's production stagnated last season, his second as a starter, as he made 49 tackles for the second straight year. Head coach Brian Kelly believes the Fighting Irish might have stretched Farley too thin and didn't properly utilize the 5-foot-11, 204-pound Farley's skill set.
"We were trying to get him to replace Zeke Motta and Harrison Smith, two pretty good players and two physical players, and he's not that kind of player," Kelly said, referring to a pair of NFL players who had three inches and roughly 10 pounds on Farley during their college days. "And so he kind of got that tag of, 'Well he's not as physical.' Well, that's not his best trait. He's really smart. He's got some tools that, I think, if we play him in the right position, can really help our defense.
"So I'm not going to say he was unfairly evaluated in a sense, but he was put in a very difficult position last year and we think he can really help our defense in a role that doesn't focus on him being a hard-hit safety."
Farley believes he could have done a better job of playing more relaxed last season with the increased workload, though he never felt incapable.
The Charlotte, N.C., native is entering just his sixth season of organized football, and the adjustments this time around deal with playing closer to the line of scrimmage and playing with a narrower vision.
Farley played some nickel early in Notre Dame's first spring practice Monday, and he is confident that he will adapt to the accelerated learning curve wherever VanGorder decides to use him.
"He's been very upfront and honest about it the whole time," Farley said. "The conversation started several weeks ago -- here and there, nothing nailed down. And it was official last week. So I'm really excited about it. It's a new system, it's a fresh start, so why not change positions?"