Big Board: Linebacker

The spring evaluation period saw limited activity on Notre Dame’s linebacker board, although Irish Invasion could jump start it with a five-star set to visit.

With linebacker as loaded as it’s ever been under Brian Kelly, Notre Dame can take its time in recruiting the position. Irish Illustrated breaks down the board, in terms of recruiting and how that can augment the current roster.

Current Outlook

Heading into fall camp, here’s a look at how the depth chart likely will stack up:

SAM: James Onwualu, Jaylon Smith, Greer Martini
MIKE: Nyles Morgan OR Jarrett Grace OR Joe Schmidt, Michael Deeb
WILL: Jaylon Smith, Joe Schmidt, Te’Von Coney

Note: Smith will be utilized at SAM in various sub packages implemented by defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Morgan and a healthy Schmidt will both see quality time at middle linebacker, though Schmidt is expected to cross-train at the WILL.

Grace and Schmidt will exhaust their eligibility this season, with Smith a smart bet to jump into the NFL Draft. Barring unknown attrition, Notre Dame should return all other linebackers, with Onwualu being the lone senior.

Freshmen Asmar Bilal, Te’Von Coney and Josh Barajas will have three or four years remaining depending on how the coaching staff manages red-shirts this fall. Coney enrolled early and took some second-team work during spring practice.

What’s Next

Notre Dame will ideally sign two in this class, one that projects inside and one that projects outside with coverage and pass rush ability.  

Notre Dame’s top target at the position, five-star Caleb Kelly of Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West, will make his first visit to Notre Dame for Irish Invasion. Kelly’s top 10 consists of Alabama, California, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA and USC. To get one of Kelly’s official visits, Notre Dame must impress this summer.

The most recent offer went to three-star inside linebacker Jonathan Smith of Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County last week. Defensive line coach Keith Gilmore returned to familiar territory in North Carolina when he visited Smith. Offers on the table include Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan, N.C. Sate, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Smith plans to attend Irish Invasion.

One linebacker without a Notre Dame offer to track is three-star Virginia native Chase Pine. California, Georgia, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest make up Pine’s offer list as camp season approaches. Notre Dame would bolt to the top of his list with an offer. Pine will visit for Irish Invasion.

Here’s a look at the updated Master List at linebacker.

Linebacker
Cameron Brown
6-5, 223
Potomac, Md.
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Booker Top Offers: Michigan St., Penn St., UNC, ASU, Va. Tech
Update: Junior Day impressed both Brown and his mother. Notre Dame remains a frontrunner, even with former teammate Dwayne Haskins off to Maryland.
Jamir Jones
6-3, 215
Rochester, N.Y.
Offer: No Visit: Yes Recruiter: Hiestand Top Offers: Boston College, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse
Outlook: Jones, the younger brother of Jarron Jones, visited during spring practice but wasn’t offered. His build didn’t scream outside pass rusher.
Caleb Kelly
6-2, 220
Clovis, Calif.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Sanford Top Offers: Alabama, FSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, LSU, USC
Outlook: Kelly figures to headline Irish Invasion, with Notre Dame in his Top 10. The field is national, meaning a homerun visit is necessary.
Chase Pine
6-4, 210
Williamsburg, Va.
Offer: No Visit: No Recruiter: Booker Top Offers: Georgia, N.C. State, Pitt, Syracuse, Wake Forest
Outlook: Pine will be in South Bend for the Irish Invasion, hoping to earn an offer. Georgia put an offer on the table this spring, which kicked up this recruitment.
Andrew Pryts
6-2, 195
Hermitage, Pa.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Ohio St., Penn St., Stanford, Alabama, Michigan
Outlook: Pryts is a Penn State legacy, which makes the Nittany Lions a serious threat. The Irish see a high school safety who can grow into an outside linebacker.
Koby Quansah
6-1, 218
West Hartford, Conn.
Offer: No Visit: No Recruiter: Elston Top Offers: Michigan, Wisconsin, Duke, Pitt, ASU
New: Notre Dame checked out Quansah during the evaluation period’s final week as it hunts for at least one linebacker in this haul. An offer could be coming.
Jonathan Smith
6-0, 229
Laurinburg, N.C.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Gilmore Top Offers: Ga. Tech, Louisville, Michigan, UNC, Duke
New: Notre Dame seemed set at inside linebacker, but the Irish offered Smith in late May and a June visit already in the works. Smith is a Manti Te’o fan.


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