Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 33 Shayne Simon, four-star linebacker, incoming freshman
Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Incoming freshman with four years of eligibility remaining, including the 2018 season.
Depth chart: Simon will enter preseason practice fourth on the depth chart at rover, behind senior and presumptive starter Asmar Bilal, sophomore Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah and sophomore Isaiah Robertson, recently-converted from safety.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star, the U.S. Army All-American chose Notre Dame over eight Big Ten offers, including from Michigan and Ohio State, as well as six from the ACC, led by North Carolina State and Boston College. Rivals.com considered him the No. 12 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 159 overall prospect.
Committing in July of 2017 and putting figurative pen to paper during December’s early signing period, Simon’s recruitment was handled largely by now-former Irish defensive coordinator Mike Elko. When searching for a rover, the key wrinkle in Elko’s scheme, he handled much of the pursuit himself.
Of course, linebackers coach and now defensive coordinator Clark Lea had a fair share of input, and he will continue to use the rover as a method of keeping the defensive adaptive rather than reactive.
“I’m really excited for Shayne,” Lea said in mid-April. “It’s unfair to him to project what he will be able to do (immediately) because there’s a lot that goes into that. As I am excited for him and have a plan to execute in terms of when he arrives, I want to be surprised by what he’s capable of helping us with this year.
“If he proves himself capable, just like any of the other guys coming in, we will absolutely have a place for him.”
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN SIMON’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
“Simon might already be prepared for the game in front of him. He charges to the line of scrimmage and fills holes ably. Diagnosing plays and providing appropriate coverage may take some time, but that is to be expected of any high schooler.
“… Elko brought in Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah last season with the intent of developing him at rover. Simon may fit the position even better, Elko having had a full cycle to chase him down.”
When fifth-year linebacker Drue Tranquill moved inside after a successful 2017 spent at rover, it opened the door for Simon to contribute defensively right away. It is still somewhat unlikely, but it would have been outright unfathomable (barring injury) with Tranquill at the position for his final season and second as a captain.
Bilal will still get the first chance, and his physicality sets him up well to handle any running attacks. He has yet to show thorough adeptness against the pass, though, an area where perhaps Robertson might excel.
Simon, theoretically, presents both possibilities. If Bilal were to be exposed against the pass and Robertson against the run, then either Simon or Owusu-Koromoah could be needed against a genuinely-capable offense, whoever is more ready.
At the least, Simon’s athleticism should lead to him working on kickoff coverage this season. Preserving a year of eligibility would be a mild surprise.
DOWN THE ROAD
Bilal does have two years of eligibility remaining. If he takes control of the rover position in 2018, he is likely to hold onto it in 2019. After that, it will be the same discussion of Owusu-Koromoah or Simon, both currently with four years of eligibility remaining and each recruited specifically for this position.
As long as Lea is Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, the rover will be a key piece of the puzzle, if not the key. That kind of spotlight makes it an alluring challenge, such that it is easy to believe two young players could stick around for a while waiting for their respective chances to shine.
WHY NO. 48?
More incoming freshman numbers should start to surface this week as they arrive on campus, but for now Simon’s future jersey digits are unknown. Dropping him in the late 40s fits many linebackers and, simply enough, fills an open number on the Irish roster.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 79 (theoretically) Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 77 (theoretically) Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 73 (theoretically) Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 (theoretically) John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically), Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 52 Bo Bauer, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer
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