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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 40 Drew White, junior inside linebacker

Navy v Notre Dame

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 27: Anthony Gargiulo #38 of the Navy Midshipmen runs with the ball n the 2nd half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at SDCCU Stadium on October 27, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 225 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: A junior, White has three seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.Depth chart: If White had been healthy through the spring, perhaps this reads differently. As it stands, he is at the bottom of the Mike linebacker depth chart, in some order behind fifth-year Asmar Bilal, senior Jonathan Jones and sophomores Bo Bauer and Shayne Simon.Recruiting: A consensus three-star prospect, White’s offer list did not exactly align with that assessment. He chose Notre Dame over the likes of LSU, Michigan and Ohio State.

After preserving a year of eligibility in 2017, White saw action in four games last season in an October stretch. Some of that was mop-up work in a blowout (at Virginia Tech), some of that was injury relief when Drue Tranquill was hobbled (at Northwestern), and some of that was a combination of injury relief and option speciality (vs. Navy).

White finished the year with eight tackles, highlighted by six against the Midshipmen, an underrated contribution as that game could have turned sideways when Tranquill was injured early. Instead, White fit in seamlessly against the triple-option.

During spring break, White suffered a non-football injury to his right shoulder which required surgery to repair the AC joint, knocking him out of two-thirds of the spring practice session. Up until that point, White’s comprehension of the Mike position had him in some version of contention for the starting role. Despite his lack of impact to date, that was not all that shocking. Consider …

— Bilal just moved to Mike linebacker this spring, having played Rover last year and originally moving to Buck this spring.— Everything about Bilal also applies to Simon, and then add in he is only a sophomore, as is Bauer.— When Tranquill went down last year at Buck, it was White who stepped in, and then continued to help the cause a bit a week later at Northwestern, though Jordan Genmark Heath largely filled in for Tranquill against that more traditional offensive approach. Jones was not asked to leap into action. In such an emergency situation, a backup Mike would make some sense if providing better general abilities than a backup Buck — the two positions are similar enough in a pinch — so the fact that White was called upon but Jones was not is a mark in White’s favor.

But after missing most of spring, White’s advantages have been somewhat diminished, and his athleticism never compared favorably to most of the names in this conversation.

RELATED READING: Drew White out for spring throws Notre Dame linebacker corps into flux

“When Tranquill moved to the interior role of Buck linebacker, he greatly reduced the chances of White seeing time this season. Rather than Jones or one of the freshmen earning starting honors and White working as the backup, each of those roles was knocked down a rung, not to mention Genmark-Heath joined the fray.

“All that is to say, White should see time on special teams this season, but that may end up the extent of his work.

“... Could White move back up the depth chart? Of course. (Te’von) Coney and Tranquill will be at the next level in a year, and even if Jones and Genmark Heath establish themselves as the backups du jour, that is still a big step from proving worthy of a starter’s workload. White will have that chance next offseason, albeit alongside the two frontrunners, the current class of freshmen and a few more in the recruiting class of 2019.”

The unfortunate spring injury cost White momentum. His performance against Navy alone put him in a broader conversation moving forward; his strong start to the spring only strengthened his claim. But the injury gave Bilal, Simon and Bauer time to get more comfortable in the middle, and all three bring higher ceilings to the position than White does.

His floor, however, should be no lower than offering another steady showing against Navy and contributing on special teams coverage units. In just those two areas, White should exceed last year’s tackle totals.

With Simon and Bauer, along with classmates Jack Lamb at Buck and Paul Moala at Rover, pushing for playing time, it becomes hard to see a great impact down the line from White. They are the next generation of Irish linebackers after the current presumed starters of Bilal, Genmark Heath and junior Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The combination of those starters and the sophomore quartet could carry Notre Dame through 2021, the extent of White’s eligibility.

With that in mind, it is hard to envision the Irish coaching staff asking White to return for 2021 as a fifth-year. Excelling against Navy will not be enough of a calling card to warrant such.

This could all change in the preseason if White picks up where he left off before injuring his shoulder this spring, as unlikely as that may seem.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 50: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle