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Notre Dame Football

Drew White: 'This linebacker unit is special'

December 25, 2019

Notre Dame's linebackers were the talk of the offseason. 

From the Cotton Bowl to even past the opening week of the season, the Irish linebackers big question marks. 

To the surprise of many, Notre Dame's linebackers have played exceptionally well.

In fact, Drew White (75 tackles), Asmar Bilal (72 tackles) and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (71 tackles) are Notre Dame's top three tacklers in 2019, which is something no one expected, except for maybe White.  

"I think this linebacker unit is special and I knew that before the season," stated White. "I knew before we took the field that this was a special group of guys. That's just the way we came in and prepared every day."

The drive to prove people wrong, but also not to let their teammates down, has fueled the Irish linebackers.  

"We want the unit as a whole to be better," White said. "Whoever is playing, we're just playing for the rest of the guys who aren't playing because we know how bad everyone wants to get on the field. 

"I think we've progressed a lot this year and I'm proud of what we've accomplished." 

Notre Dame got through exams last week and White was happy to be able to focus on just football.

"If you're going to play at Notre Dame, you have to know how to balance your life," explained White. "When we walk through those Gug doors, it's all football, about our love of the game and playing with one another. 

"You don't want to have anything else on your mind that you're thinking of because you can miss your assignment or job. You don't want to do that for your teammates." 

Motivation seems to be on the minds of Notre Dame fans as Saturday's game with Iowa State approaches. White will return home to Florida, so there isn’t a lack of motivation from Notre Dame’s middle linebacker, but will the Irish motivated after missing out on the College Football Playoff? 

"It's going to be the same thing that has motivated the majority of us," said White. "It's playing for each other. When you're lining up with 10 other guys on the field, you want to be there. You don't want to be the guy to let the ball leak or have anything fall on your shoulders. You're playing for the guys next to you and that's what we're going to be playing for in Orlando." 

Clark Lea's defense will need to be motivated as Iowa State will bring an explosive offense to the table. 

"They're an electric offense. They have some really good skill playmakers and a really good quarterback," White stated. "They like to throw the ball and have a lot of hard concepts. 

"We have to dig deep into the game plan and make sure we're ready. I'm confident we'll be ready."

Quarterback Brock Purdy has thrown for 3,760 yards and 27 touchdowns this fall and he has the attention of Notre Dame. 

"I think he's just a game-changer," White said of Purdy. "He really likes to make big plays. He's tough and smart with the football. He can really dish it out to other guys on the field. He's an extremely skilled football player. 

"It's definitely a guy we're keying on in the game plan and excited to play against." 

If Notre Dame wins, it would be the 11th win of the year and a feat the Irish want to accomplish in back-to-back seasons.

"11 wins is special," said White. "It's not easy. 10 wins isn't easy. Any college football coach, college football player anywhere will know 10 wins is hard and 11 wins is even harder. That's our mindset. 

"We want to get to 11 wins by the end of the season." 

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