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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Linebacker Depth Standing Out

September 8, 2020

Notre Dame made linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath's departure from the program official on Monday night as the California native will focus on graduating this semester. 

Genmark Heath's decision hurts from a depth perspective, but in terms of preparing for Duke, Notre Dame had been without him since early last week.

The competition at Buck will now focus on junior Shayne Simon and sophomore Marist Liufau.

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly is exceptionally high on both prospects and will leave it up to defensive coordinator Clark Lea when it comes to who starts on Saturday. 

"If you read on the chart, it's an OR situation, Kelly said on Monday. “Both of them are prepared and ready to play. Clark (Lea) will make the decision on who runs out there with the starting group. Both of them have had great camps and both are prepared and ready to play a lot of football for us."

Simon adds a little more experience and maturity, whereas Liufau is probably the better athlete, faster, but lacks game experience and seasoning as he played on special teams in 2019.

It's an interesting difference in skillsets and while both will play, you can't help but think back to Asmar Bilal locking down the position with a relative ease a year ago after two games. One could very well make a move on Saturday and set the tone to become a multi-year starter.

Kelly didn’t mention junior Jack Lamb, but keep an eye on him to find a role in a sub-package and patiently wait for his time. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder played in eight games last year before suffering a hip injury. 

The good news for Notre Dame is whoever ends up playing at Buck, the Irish will have an experienced Mike next to them in Drew White. 

It will be year two as the starter for White and he'll look to build on his 2019 campaign where he recorded 80 tackles (tied for team lead), 8.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. 

If you talk to people around the program, White has drawn rave reviews since the Irish returned to campus in June. The exciting thing for Notre Dame fans is that Kelly was also very high on junior Bo Bauer as he was able to push White over the last month. 

"I think Drew (White) has established himself at the Mike," stated Kelly. "But Bo Bauer has had his best camp, bar none. You're going to see him on the field and we feel very comfortable putting him there. I think there were times last year where Bo - we felt like there were some holes in his game. 

"I think he's tightened up his game to the point where we feel like if Bo has to go out there and play the whole game. We feel really good about where Bo is. Very, very good football player. The depth of the linebacker position, we feel really good." 

The linebacker position is deep with talent and Kelly made sure to mention two sophomore linebackers, who might be a year away from competing for a spot. 

"We've got two guys on the scout team right now that I'll tell you what, are really, really good football players in Jack Kiser and JD Bertrand," Kelly said. "We have a hard time blocking those guys. 

"That's a really good problem to have when we have that kind of depth on our football team at the linebacker position."

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