The month of July brings us close to the beginning of another fall camp for Notre Dame football. With practices set to begin soon we are taking a look at each position group ahead of the workouts. Today we discuss the linebackers.
Where We Left Off in Spring
Notre Dame decided to do some shifting of players, and unlike the offensive line, made the moves swiftly and decisively to begin spring. Converted safety-to-Rover Drue Tranquill made another switch inside to Buck, while breakout 2017 star Te’von Coney made the small switch from a mostly Buck player (with some Mike mixed in) to a full-time Mike.
The Rover positioned opened up to Asmar Bilal with solid if somewhat mixed results. The rest of the depth chart was also rearranged although that’s a little further down the depth chart and some of that will need to be fleshed out next month.
Number One Camp Storyline
The continuing competition of the Rover position highlights the biggest storyline by far for the linebackers. You have to give Bilal credit for stepping up his game as some were waiting for him to fall back during the spring. In fact, the competition didn’t really feel intense according to the vast majority of the practice reports.
Still, new defensive coordinator Clark Lea left the door plenty open after spring and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is hyper-athletic and it seems like as time passes he’ll be slowly chipping away for more minutes during the season. In other words, the fall camp battle should be a few notches more serious than what we witnessed in the spring–especially after JOK got plenty of 1st-team reps in the spring game and looked quite good.
Anticipation Level: 4/10
If they stay healthy, Tranquill and Coney will surely combine for 1,500 snaps or more. You can only get so excited about a bunch of practices in August when you know that’s coming.
I’m focused on these 3 players for August:
1 Shayne Simon – Rarely would a true freshman who wasn’t on campus for spring be this interesting. Simon is supposed to be different. He’s expected to be a Rover in name but has the potential to be a jack-of-all-trades defender immediately during camp. He could be one of the most fun players to watch next month. Does he immediately shoot up the Rover depth chart? Does he become a nickel/dime extraordinaire? Will we see him lining up at inside linebacker on occasion? Is he at safety in some weird passing down package? Who knows!
2 Jon Jones – Despite entering only his third season Jones is practically the lone veteran back-up among all the linebackers. To date, he’s shown some signs of sticking around and gaining more playing time. This camp may determine his trajectory for the remainder of his time at Notre Dame. A strong set of practices likely sets him up as a possible starter in 2019, while any struggles would push the younger players closer to passing him.
3 Isaiah Robertson – I almost put Jordan Genmark Heath in this spot although I feel like he quickly gained favored son status in the spring and will be a pleasant surprise to the greater Notre Dame world in August. I have no idea what the plan will be for Isaiah Robertson. He looked promising two springs ago, played a little bit at safety last year, and is now thrown into the mix at Rover where he could be a good fit. It’s just, there’s stiff competition there and it didn’t feel like a great move for his career.