Big Board: Inside Linebacker

Notre Dame lost its top three inside linebackers after last season and returns little depth. That’s part of the reason why those positions will be major priorities in the coming recruiting cycle.

CURRENT OUTLOOK

Notre Dame must replace both starting inside linebackers from last season after captains Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt departed. Trusted backup Jarrett Grace is also out the door.

Former five-star recruit Nyles Morgan is expected to get the start at middle linebacker after playing little his first two seasons. Morgan amassed 16 tackles (eight solo) last fall while backing up Schmidt. Morgan has two years of eligibility remaining.

Te’von Coney is the frontrunner to start at weak-side linebacker. Coney, who accounted for 13 tackles (six solo) as a freshman, has three years of eligibility remaining. He’s also coming off shoulder surgery following the Fiesta Bowl and figures to be limited during spring practice.

Josh Barajas and mid-year enrollee Daelin Hayes should provide depth. It’s not clear where Asmar Bilal will line up, although he could be a Will linebacker in competition with Coney.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Irish signed just one inside linebacker last month. Three-star Jonathan Jones could play either of the inside positions.

Notre Dame would like to sign at least three inside linebackers in the next cycle.

Here’s a look at the updated Watch List at inside linebacker.

Offer: Yes
Visit: Yes
Recruiter: Elston
Top Offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Stanford
Outlook: Notre Dame is in a strong spot, along with Michigan, Penn State and Pittsburgh, but competition is heating up. He’ll be a visitor for Junior Day in March. His first visit to campus occurred in August when he added an offer.
Arrow: Horizontal

Offer: Yes
Visit: No
Recruiter: Elston
Top Offers: Duke, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia
Outlook: Brooks was offered by Notre Dame in February, and he’s expected on campus for Junior Day in March. The Irish have a chance to register a big impression on a recruitment that’s expected to end before next season.
Arrow: Horizontal

Offer: Yes
Visit: No
Recruiter: Sanford
Top Offers: Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M
Outlook: Hines has upwards of 90 scholarship offers and hasn’t named any leaders. It will be a dogfight to get him on campus, if Notre Dame wants to get heavily involved.
Arrow: Horizontal

Offer: Yes
Visit: No
Recruiter: Denson
Top Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan
Outlook: Notre Dame trails only Auburn in this recruitment, but the Tigers won’t be easy to unseat. Ignont transferred to IMG Academy in January. He plans to visit Notre Dame this summer and again in the fall.
Arrow: Horizontal

Offer: Yes
Visit: No
Recruiter: VanGorder  
Top Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida State
Outlook: Alabama and Georgia are the two frontrunners, and Notre Dame likely isn’t included in his top-five, as things stand. 
Arrow: Down

Offer: Yes
Visit: No
Recruiter: Elston
Top Offers: Arizona, Boston College, Utah, Wisconsin
Outlook: Tuesday’s offer from Notre Dame was a big one for Niu, who could be on the verge of having his recruitment reach the next level. USC and UCLA have yet to offer. If they get involved they’ll be major players. 
Arrow: Horizontal

Offer: Yes
Visit: Yes
Recruiter: Gilmore
Top Offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma
Outlook: Ross has a top four of Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State. His older brother plays at Michigan. Ross visited for the Texas game last fall.
Arrow: Horizontal

Offer: Yes
Visit: No
Recruiter: Elston
Top Offers: Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M
Outlook: Phillips is expected to attend Junior Day in March. He has yet to name favorites, so getting up on campus this spring could pay dividends.
Arrow: Horizontal

Offer: Yes
Visit: No
Recruiter: VanGorder
Top Offers: Auburn, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech
Outlook: Robinson is high on Notre Dame after picking up an offer last month. He could visit in April or in the summer. The Irish got involved relatively early in a recruitment that could blow up in later stages.
Arrow: Horizontal


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