While Jerry Tillery stole the headlines, fellow classmate Te’von Coney more than held his own this spring. The linebacker may have entered a packed depth chart at linebacker, but he solidified his place as a key cog in the future plans of Notre Dame’s defense.
Coney arrived on campus looking like a readymade player, with the type of athleticism and physique that hardly resembled a kid who should’ve spent the spring in high school. While he’s a few inches shorter than ideal, the future is bright for the Florida native, especially after regulars Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith depart.
Let’s take a closer look at Te’von Coney.
6'0", 230 lbs.
Freshman, No. 4, LB
An Under Armour All-American, Coney was a consensus four-star prospect. Coney chose Notre Dame over Florida, Miami, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and dozens more.
Coney was at the top of Notre Dame’s linebacking board and attended the Irish Invasion summer camp. Thanks to Will Muschamp’s demise in Gainesville, it was even easier for Coney to make the tough decision to pack his things and move north, leaving behind the comfort of the Gators to make a go of it in South Bend.
While it’s mighty difficult to be a “plug-and-play” linebacker in Brian VanGorder’s system, Coney’s closer to that than even Nyles Morgan was. This might be a bold statement, but if Jerry Tillery is the top prospect in the 2015 recruiting class, he’s only ahead of Coney when it comes to upside potential.
Coney has everything you want in a linebacker, especially one playing in the Irish system. Whether he’s a mike or will, he’ll be a playmaker, and after 15 practices with this staff they believe there’s a future standout in Coney.
I’m not sure how Coney makes his impact this season, but I expect him to play. He’ll be a regular on special teams, and will likely fight his way into the rotation, especially if Jaylon Smith plays on the edge of the defense.
There’s an argument for redshirting Coney, saving a year of eligibility and then allowing him to plug in with Nyles Morgan in 2016. But I just think there’s too much talent here to assume Coney will stay in South Bend for five seasons, so might as well make the most out of the talented rookie.
Bold prediction: Blue-chipper Justin Hilliard may have been the linebacker Irish fans thought was the must-have prospect in the class. But when all is said and done, I expect Coney to be the more productive college player.
THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB