FORT WAYNE — Notre Dame’s secondary suffered a blow more than two months before the season.
Irish safety Austin Collinsworth is expected to miss four to six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, the university announced Wednesday.
The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Collinsworth has played primarily on special teams the last two seasons. He had 16 special teams tackles last season and was named the Irish’s special teams player of the year after the 2012 season.
Collinsworth, the son of former NFL player and current broadcaster Cris, has 22 special teams tackles in two seasons and has 25 tackles and forced one fumble in his first two years with the Irish.
Collinsworth, who will be a junior this season, has not taken a redshirt year yet.
He was expected to play a significant role in the defensive backfield behind projected starting safeties Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta.
Collinsworth, a converted receiver, progressed enough this spring that Notre Dame cross trained Slaughter at cornerback to help boost the experience and depth at that position.
Slaughter can also line up at linebacker as he did at times last season for the Irish.
If Collinsworth misses this season, Notre Dame still has plenty of options behind Slaughter and Motta at safety.
Fifth-year senior Dan McCarthy and senior Chris Salvi could provide instant depth. The Irish have Eilar Hardy, who didn’t play last season, and Chris Badger, who returned this summer after his Mormon mission. Notre Dame also has four incoming freshmen – Nick Baratti, C.J. Prosise, Elijah Shumante and John Turner – who could play safety.
Notre Dame begins training camp Aug. 4.
The Irish open the season against Navy on Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team will play Connecticut twice during the Big East regular season for a fourth straight season.
The Big East announced its home and away opponents for the 2012-13 season with each team playing eight home and road games with two repeat opponents.
The Irish, who reached the NCAA tournament title game the last two seasons, will also play Providence twice.
Notre Dame’s other home opponents are Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, St. John’s and Syracuse. The Irish road foes are DePaul, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, South Florida and Villanova.