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Reports: Notre Dame LB Prince Kollie enters transfer portal, costing the Irish current depth and a future playmaker

Stanford v Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - OCTOBER 15: Prince Kollie #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish blocks a punt by Ryan Sanborn #27 of the Stanford Cardinal during the first half at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2022 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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Notre Dame will be led by a trio of fifth-year linebackers in 2023 in JD Bertrand, Jack Kiser and Marist Liufau. They were the top-three Irish tacklers in 2022, and next fall will be Bertrand’s and Kiser’s third year as starters. They provide known commodities that rarely make mistakes along Notre Dame’s defensive second line.

And their consistent playmaking leaves younger linebackers few paths to playing time. Junior linebacker Prince Kollie has entered the transfer portal, per multiple Monday afternoon reports. Irish Sports Daily’s Matt Freeman first reported his departure from the Notre Dame program.

Kollie played in all 13 games last season, making 19 tackles with 2.5 for loss, but he was looking at another year of a complementary role on the Irish defense. With only two seasons of eligibility remaining, the likelihood of playing only one year as a starter makes Kollie’s transfer rather understandable, if unfortunate for Notre Dame.

He will be immediately eligible to play wherever he transfers.

A Butkus Award winner in high school, recognizing the best linebacker in the country, Kollie memorably stuck to an Irish commitment even though then-defensive coordinator Clark Lea took the Vanderbilt head coaching job two days before National Signing Day. Lea had been Kollie’s primary recruiter not only because he was Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, but also because they are both from Tennessee.

Lea actively reassured Kollie he should still head to South Bend, an effort further buttressed by then-defensive analyst Nick Lezynski. After the 2021 season, Lezynski joined Lea’s staff at Vanderbilt as the linebackers coach.

Without Kollie, Notre Dame’s backup linebackers will primarily be a pair of sophomores in Jaylen Sneed and Nolan Ziegler with three early-enrolled freshmen adding depth. The freshmen — Preston Zinter, Drayk Bowen and Jaiden Ausberry — already saw added action this spring with Kollie missing the last couple of weeks of practices due to a concussion.

Liufau could have as many as three seasons of eligibility remaining, the same as Kollie. The same is true of senior Jack Kiser at Rover and even Bertrand at middle linebacker.

“But sixth years should be expected less and less as the 2020 universal pandemic eligibility waiver falls further into the proverbial rearview mirror. At Notre Dame, that may be even more true as Marcus Freeman so aggressively recruits elite talent, landing a quartet of four-star linebackers last year and already adding another committed pair in the class of 2023.

“As Liufau, Kiser and Bertrand matriculate out of the program after either this season or next, Kollie should be expected to step into a primary role before those current freshmen. Even when his debut season got off to a rocky start, through no fault of his own, Kollie played in 10 games. The Irish coaches clearly thought he had a college-ready physique and will not need five (injury-free) years to make his impact felt.”

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