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 shoulder 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.
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, and the Irish have Eilar Hardy, who didn't play last season, and Chris Badger 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 and open the season this against Navy on Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland.