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Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker

Notre Dame v Stanford

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Will Schweitzer #48 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leaves the field at half time of an NCAA football game against the Stanford Cardinal on November 27, 2021 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

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Listed measurements: 6-foot-4, 225 pounds.2022-23 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Schweitzer has all four seasons of eligibility remaining after appearing in only three games as a freshman, all in November. Such usage of underclassmen was one of the ideal perks to the four-game eligibility exception created not all that long ago.Depth Chart: Schweitzer moved to Rover this spring, from Vyper end, an understandable position switch given he still weighs only 225 pounds. He will have time to learn his new role, with senior Jack Kiser and junior Jordan Botelho looking like the primary one-two punch at the position while early-enrolled freshman Jaylen Sneed looks to be the Rover of the future, taking some further pressure off Schweitzer’s immediate development.Recruiting: A consensus three-star and the No. 29 defensive end in the class, per, the California native chose the Irish over most of the Pac 12, as well as Virginia Tech, Michigan State and Arkansas. Of all those Power Five offers, Schweitzer originally committed to Nebraska.

Schweitzer played in three November blowouts, notching a tackle during Notre Dame’s 55-0 rout of Georgia Tech in the home finale.

It is worth pulling this entire section from last summer’s post, both because Schweitzer has since moved back to linebacker, his high school position and because remembering the oddities of recruiting during the pandemic will help inform future roster moves:

Schweitzer’s recruitment may end up as the best case study of pandemic prospecting …

“Schweitzer is actually the last prospect I saw in person,” then-recruiting coordinator Brian Polian said in December of 2020. “I was in Schwetizer’s school in January (of 2020) before the cycle ended and we haven’t been back out since. [Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator] Clark Lea and I loved him.

“The issue when he was a junior was that he was playing linebacker. He was 205 or 208 pounds. Why are you recruiting this guy to play the Vyper position when he’s standing up? You don’t see him pass rush that much, but his motor was so good and we knew because we had seen him, he’s got length, he is 6-foot-4-plus.”

All that is why the Cornhuskers were so interested in the first place, holding a Schweitzer commitment through two months of summer, the peak of pandemic uncertainty in college football. Throughout that time, the Irish could not see Schweitzer, not because of the Nebraska pledge but because of the recruiting dead period induced by the pandemic. That slowed Notre Dame’s transition from viewing Schweitzer as a linebacker to viewing him as a possible defensive end.

“Through the summer, even though he was committed to Nebraska, we never stopped communicating with him and we were watching his body,” Polian said. “He’d send us photos and video and you’re seeing his body start to fill out.

“When the time was right and the numbers allowed it, we offered him and we felt great about it.”

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESSGive him a call, Visit South Bend.

“The next line in Polian’s comments on Schweitzer summed up what should be expected in 2021 …

“‘He is a guy that is gonna take some physical development, but his length, his twitch, his motor, we believe are going to lend himself to being a really good player.’

“This will be a year of development for Schweitzer, at least some of it spent on the scout team. Even those reps will be valuable to Schweitzer given he did not have a senior season of football and his spring practice was halted by an injury akin to a patella issue, per head coach Brian Kelly.”

The instinct is to write off Schweitzer’s season. He hardly saw the field as a freshman, partly done in by that springtime knee injury. He switched positions this spring, now at one headlined by a play-making veteran and a dynamic junior. Expecting contributions from the California native in 2022 first means expecting total health, a steep learning curve at a new position and overall development.

That may be a lot to ask. Yet …

Injuries have a way of drastically dampening expectations, often unnecessarily so.

Schweitzer made four tackles in the 2022 Blue-Gold Game, displaying health. He has a full summer to grasp his new position, not to mention the Rover linebacker and the Vyper end have some overlap in duties to start with. And junior Jordan Botelho has not exactly been the most consistent of players thus far in his career.

It is not beyond the realm of comprehension to think Schweitzer could end up with a dozen tackles this season. That may not seem like a lot, but for context, Botelho had 18 tackles last season, surprising safeties Xavier Watts and Ramon Henderson had 15 and 14, respectively, and backup defensive tackle Jacob Lacey had 12.

It may yet be unlikely Schweitzer finds such a contributing role, but it is more likely than a complete loss of a season. His freshman season going awry is not reason enough to assume such will continue.

The difficulty for Schweitzer may be predicting future advancement up the depth chart. Kiser has three seasons of eligibility remaining, courtesy of the universal pandemic eligibility waiver. Botelho has three, as well.

Kiser hanging around South Bend into the 2024 season is obviously doubtful, but a fifth-year is probable. That duo would keep Schweitzer on the third-string at his new position through at least next season.

Then again, a three-star recruit waiting until his senior season to see regular playing time is nothing to be surprised by. That is, in fact, essentially what a three-star rating means.

From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 89 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77* Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65* Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59* Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 57* Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 51* Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard

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