Notre Dame Recruiting Big Board: Linebacker

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Linebacker Te'von Coney
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Linebacker Te'von Coney /

Our 2019 Notre Dame recruiting big board continues with linebacker — a position group the staff can be picky about considering the depth on the current roster.

Bob Crable. Manti Te’o. Jaylon Smith. All names that any Notre Dame football fan, young or old, will recognize. It’s no secret that Notre Dame has a storied history of talented linebackers, and 2018 and beyond should continue that success. Here is a quick breakdown of the 2018 squad and what fans should expect in the 2019 Notre Dame recruiting class.

2018 Roster Outlook 

Perhaps the best recruiting job of the off-season was the Notre Dame coaching staff convincing Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill to return for their final years of eligibility. Replacing the top four Irish linebackers would have been a tough task, but fortunately that is no longer a worry for the staff. Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini will be missed, but the issue would have been far worse if the other two left.

Coney was Notre Dame’s most disruptive defensive player a year ago, and Tranquill is a rock in the middle of the defense.

Behind these two there are definite question marks, but Clark Lea is excited about what is waiting in the wings. Asmar Bilal is the favorite to take over the ROVER spot with Tranquil moving over to BUCK, but younger guys are right on his tail. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Isaiah Robertson will push for significant playing time, and Shayne Simon a highly touted incoming freshman. Bilal will have to earn his starting spot.

Junior Jonathan Jones looks poised for a breakout 2018 season, and many are already calling him this year’s Te’Von Coney. He will likely be the main backup and spell both Coney and Tranquill on the inside. Jordan Genmark-Heath, a converted safety, has made the move to BUCK and should be a key fixture in multiple roles in 2018.

Other players in the mix include highly touted freshman Bo Bauer and Jack Lamb, another coverted saftey D.J. Morgan, and second year players David Adams and Drew White. I expect freshman Ovie Oghoufo to red shirt considering all the names in front of him.

2019 Numbers Outlook 

Notre Dame will lose Coney and Tranquill following this season, but that is likely it unless Jones or Bilal put up eye-popping numbers. With all the talented bodies in place, the Irish coaching staff can be picky in 2019. It will likely be a fairly small class, but the number could reach four if certain guys want in. The same number here is three, but it could range anywhere from 2-4 prospects.

Names to Know/Top Targets 

The biggest name out there is five-star linebacker from Virginia, Brandon Smith. Early on in the process there were questions about what position Smith would be recruited at, but general consensus seems to be linebacker for now. Smith has offers from most of the top programs across the country, therefore, he will be a tough pull. However, Clark Lea has become a major presence in the Virginia area, and that includes with Brandon Smith. Other programs in the mix are Penn State, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.

Osita Ekwonu is the top realistic target for the staff, and he would be a tremendous pull from the South. Helping the Irish here is Ekwonu’s relationship with the Okwara family, and right now Notre Dame feels like the leader in the clubhouse. He already took his official visit to South Bend, but don’t be surprised if another visit occurs.

Omaha, Nebraska native Nick Henrich was also recently on campus, and at least on the crystal ball Notre Dame is trending in the right direction. Henrich is one of the top linebacker prospects in the Midwest, and he should make it back to Notre Dame for an official visit.

Another interesting prospect to monitor is Pennsylvania outside linebacker, Keith Maguire. His offer list is impressive with schools like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State headlining the group. He’s not the most physically impressive player on this list, but definitely someone many top schools would love to land.

Names to Monitor 

Outside of the four names mentioned above, there are few more prospects deserving of notice. Spencer Lytle and Tristan Sinclar have already been on Notre Dame’s campus and are giving the Irish a serious look. The California natives are receiving love from many top programs and would be welcomed additions in South Bend.

The last prospect to keep in mind has yet to receive an offer, but one is likely on the horizon. A name that all Notre Dame fans will recognize, Tommy Eichenberg, was on campus this past weekend. According to, Tommy is a possible drop end candidate for the staff, and that could be the hold up. I would be surprised if an offer is not extended at some point, regardless of position.

Next: Recruiting Big Board: Defensive Tackle

There are currently no linebacker commits in the 2019 class, but Notre Dame is in very good shape to land another fantastic haul. Clark Lea has done a fantastic job recruiting linebackers to South Bend, and that trend should continue for many years. This is becoming a nice trend at many positions for the Irish.