WHAT NOTRE DAME HAS
Notre Dame picked up a weak-side/middle linebacker prospect in three-star Drew White earlier this week. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas prospect chose Notre Dame on Monday evening over LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker will likely start out his career as a weak-side prospect, but he has potential develop at the Mike position. Notre Dame is getting a smart, physical and instinctive player in White, who is back to 100 percent this spring after missing the last three games of his junior season with a foot injury.
White is ranked as the ninth outside linebacker in Florida, 23rd in the South and 59th overall.
WHY IT MATTERS
Notre Dame landed the linebacker from powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, and while that Florida and Catholic school combination makes White a prototype Irish recruit, he also had offers from Michigan and Ohio State, which intensified this recruitment.
White’s foot injury has delayed his exposure – he didn’t participate in this month’s The Opening Regional in Miami – and has caused some programs, including the big three in Florida, to wait on offering.
But Notre Dame felt confident in its evaluation of White and treated him like a priority target during Junior Day. It paid off when he committed less than 24 hours after returning home in South Florida.
WHAT NOTRE DAME WANTS
Expect Notre Dame to take one more linebacker this cycle.
Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy Will Ignont is a priority and lists the Irish among his lead pack after adding an offer last month. Notre Dame is recruiting him as a weak-side linebacker.
Other inside linebacker prospects include Jacob Phillips, who was on campus for Junior Day, Malik Robinson of Georgia, and Sampson Niu of San Diego.
Notre Dame must replace Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt, with the departure of Jarrett Grace denting the position’s depth.
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 is out during spring practice.
Josh Barajas, who Brian Kelly said had the roster’s biggest offseason transformation, could see work at both inside linebacker positions. Barajas checked in this spring at 6-foot-2, 240-pounds.
Mid-year enrollee Daelin Hayes should provide depth, although he could grow into a defensive end. He’s been working with the defensive line much of spring ball. Incoming freshman Jonathan Jones will likely work at weak-side linebacker during camp, with a red-shirt season possible.