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Notre Dame Football

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 8 | LB Jordan Genmark Heath

July 25, 2019
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We are looking at 10 players who hold the most intrigue on the roster as fall camp is just under a month away. They might not be the star of the team, but they could be a younger prospect oozing with potential or an older guy who has patiently waited for their time to come. 

These are 10 players who I will be paying close attention to as camp starts, but also the first few games of the season to see if they break into the rotation or what Brian Kelly’s plan of attack for them is in 2019. 

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 10 | OL Aaron Banks

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 9 | S Jalen Elliott

Jordan Genmark Heath arrived at Notre Dame as a physical safety from California and appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman. The 6-foot-1, 231-pounder actually led the team with 11 tackles on kickoff, which was the most since Austin Collinsworth recorded 13 in 2011. 

The San Diego native moved from safety to linebacker in 2018 and made his first start as he filled in for captain Drue Tranquill during the Northwestern game. 

As we turn the page to 2019, Genmark Heath will have his chance to put his stamp on Clark Lea’s defense as he’ll enter camp fighting for a starting role with Jack Lamb at the Buck position. 

Well, that’s as of now. Notre Dame enters fall camp with the two interior linebacker spots up for grabs with players cross-training at both Buck and Mike. 

In the case of Genmark Heath, it’s his athleticism and the potential of huge becoming a big-time playmaker that has my attention. 

Speed is something Brian Kelly can never have too much of and Genmark Heath provides it. But don’t forget about his willingness to be physical, which impressed former captain Sam Mustipher last fall.

“He’s perfectly fine banging heads,” said Mustipher. “You can tell when guys don’t want to hit. He’s a competitive guy and likes to get after it. When you have competitive energy behind you, hitting is an afterthought, and it’s more about getting after the guy in front of you, and he does that.” 

Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill seemed to be in the right spot most of the time last fall, but even with natural instincts and experience, both players lacked the ability to get after the quarterback at times. Genmark Heath provides a touch of extra juice as a blitzer, but might lack some of the natural instincts as he’s entering his second fall in the box. 

“To a man, we are better equipped, better skilled from where we started,” explained Lea. “If you look at our room, it’s an interesting makeup just in terms of the multiplicity of position. 

“A guy like Jordan Genmark Heath who is just a year into playing at the second level. We’re a work in progress and have a long way to go but slowly but surely the picture is clearing up.” 

Notre Dame fans might not remember the Miami game in 2017 as it’s a night many have blocked from their memory. 

However, the Canes linebackers were extremely active in shooting gaps and were flying sideline to sideline. Zach McCloud and Shaquille Quarterman recorded five tackles each that night, but their impact was felt all over the field. 

Genmark Heath is precisely that type of player as he has the skillset to attack downhill, blitz and help in pass coverage. 

Accountability and leadership are areas Notre Dame has stressed since the 4-8 season in 2016 and both are traits Genmark Heath possesses. He has the personality where his teammates gravitate toward him, but he’s also a natural leader, which will come in useful as the Irish look to fill the shoes of Coney and Tranquill. 

“I don’t think there is any pressure,” Genmark Heath said following the spring game. “Everyone asks how we’re going to replace Drue Tranquill and Te’von Coney and it’s a fair question. 

“We have a different type of linebacker in our linebacker room right now. We could actually be better than the guys before us. Don’t get me wrong, they are great players and it’s hard to do that, but I’m confident in all of our guys and myself. I don’t feel any pressure there.”

If Genmark Heath can lock down the Buck spot and provide positive production, Notre Dame will have found an answer to one linebacker spot, which could very well be the difference in going 11-1 or 12-0 as the Irish have NFL talent all over the defensive line and secondary. 

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