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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

TaRiq Bracy brings experience and focus to defensive secondary

TaRiq Bracy is a California kid who has embraced everything that Notre Dame has to offer. Coming off of a USC game in which he had a fumble recovery, and the Irish secured a big rivalry win, he was asked if the game meant more to him. "Yea, being a California native," he said, "But, I chose Notre Dame and this is my spot and I love everything about it. Honestly it's just another game." 

Coming out of high school, Bracy was a star on both sides of the ball, almost never leaving the field. He graduated to the tune of 14 interceptions, 73 touchdowns and one state title for his hometown Milpitas High School. Throughout his career at Notre Dame, it is obvious that he has come to embrace a more limited role on the defense and the team as a whole. He doesn't play every snap on defense, and his involvement in the game plan often varies from team to team, but he always stays ready.

This is evidenced by how his presence has been felt on the field throughout the entirety of his career at Notre Dame. In his freshman season, he logged 18 tackles in eleven games, including a seven tackle performance against Pitt and a forced fumble against Florida State. 

The following season, he saw the field in all but one of the Irish's contests, recording 34 tackles with seven pass break ups, two forced fumbles and one recovery. His best performances came against Virginia, where he had a season-high seven tackles, and Bowling Green, when he filled the stat sheet by forcing a fumble along with four tackles and two pass break ups. 

Irish senior cornerback TaRiq Bracy crosses his arms before a play during Notre Dame's 32-29 win over Toledo on Sep. 11 at Notre Dame Stadium.

Now, following a limited junior season, where the defensive backfield was more crowded with players transferring in and returning from injury, Bracy has been a veteran presence at corner. New defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman lauded his effort throughout the spring practice season, noting his willingness to stay in the facility to work on his craft or watch more film. This season, he has seen the field every game and even recorded his first interception against Virginia Tech to go along with his 31 tackles.

This was obviously a marquee moment in Bracy's college career, and he was asked how it felt to finally notch a pick. He responded as he usually does, with a focus on the team and the rest of the season. "Yea it was definitely a confidence boost," he said. "It felt great, I'm not gonna lie. And just, moving forward, I'll see if I can get a couple more."

For the rest of this year Bracy looks to lead a defensive secondary unit that needs his experience more than ever in the absence of All-American safety Kyle Hamilton. It's easy to see how his focus and competitive mentality will be essential to the team by hearing just one of his quotes on the importance of the big win over USC a few weeks ago. "It feels good, but, I mean, we're not done. We still have a lot more games left, so I'm just gonna build up from this game and keep playing and keep doing my job."