In a continuation of my running recruiting diary, this is definitely the position that intrigues me most. Linebackers are the backbone of any solid defense, and the Irish definitely answered the call this year by signing some high grade kids at this spot, all of which have vast amounts of potential to succeed at the college level.
First off, the signing of Chicago boys Darius Fleming and Steven Filer adds instant credibility to the position. These guys are animals on the gridiron, and both should see the field early on. I am originally from the Chicago area, and nothing makes me happier than Notre Dame raiding their neighbors to the West for top notch talent.
Filer, who is a solid 6′ 3″ 220, hails from perrenial high school powerhouse Mt. Carmel, the same institution that produced QB Donavan McNabb. Mt. Carmel is a parochial school, and I have always been partial to Notre Dame signing kids from these types of schools, because they are already used to being accountable for both their actions, and performance in the classroom. Filer plays with the tenacity needed to excel against quality competition, and is, in my humble opinion, one of the hidden gems of this class.
Darius Fleming, who is also a product of one of the city’s many parochial schools (St. Rita), will be lining up next to Filer on the outside when their numbers are called. Fleming is a load at 6’3″ 230, and was a very hot recruit Notre Dame stole away from rivals Michigan and USC. I can’t wait to see this young man and Filer grow together and dominate in a few years.
I’m obviously gaga for the aforementioned recruits, but the talent at LB certainly doesn’t stop there. California’s Anthony McDonald shucked offers from hometown Pac-10 teams (including USC), to travel to South Bend. The 6’3″ 220 lb. is no stranger to green and gold, for he played at Notre Dame Academy in suburban Sherman Oaks. McDonald heads East a decorated All-American, and hopefully will help round out a core of stud young ‘backers.
The overall talent at this position dips with our last guy, David Posluszny. The 6’0″ 200 lb. human wrecking ball has great lineage on his side though, with older brother Paul becoming an elite linebacker at Penn State, a team certainly well known for producing badasses at the position. David comes to South Bend in the same boat his elder went to Happy Valley, a solid recruit not expected to do much more than play consistently. Let’s hope he follows big bro’s lead and overacheives by displaying unrivaled competetiveness and field smarts.
As for the returning linebackers, the debacles last season proved some of these guys simply can’t hang at a high level, and perhaps this is why the position was so aggressively addressed in recruiting. The key to a good linebacking corps. goes far beyond raw talent. The group needs to be completely on the same page every play, know their role in the formations, and flat out have the will and desire to make plays. Last year’s group looked lost on many occasions, and the sign of all bad things to come was Tashard Choice tearing off long runs at will during their embarrassing debut. But that’s in the past……………… I think these new guys, paired with the expertise of Asst. Head Coach John Tenuta, will become a force to be reckoned with when their time arrives. Be prepared to wait though my friends.
Stay tuned for PART 3- Defensive Linemen (Where old Steelhead will express heartache after losing the lynchpin of the whole class)
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