We stay in the linebacking corps for the third installment in a row of our countdown of the top 25 players on the 2013 Notre Dame football roster with Notre Dame’s top DOG backer Danny Spond.
Originally recruited by many schools as a quarterback out of high school, Spond was one of the first recruits to receive an offer from Brian Kelly once he took over for Charlie Weis whose staff either didn’t think he would fit defense – whatever that particular defense of the week was – or simply didn’t identify him as a talented, but raw athlete.
Luckily for Notre Dame, Kelly and his staff could see how an athlete like Spond would fit in perfectly to their defensive scheme.
After spending his freshman and sophomore seasons primarily on special teams and then sitting out the first two games of 2012 due to a scary problem with migraines Spond jumped into the starting lineup in week 3 and started the remaining 11 games of the 2012 season. In those 11 starts Spond began to establish himself as a reliable DOG linebacker and was one of Notre Dame’s unsung heroes of the 2012 season.
Why Danny Spond could be ranked higher
Last year was Spond’s first season as a starting linebacker meaning he still has a lot of room for improvement and growth for Notre Dame. Being able to step into the starting lineup after missing a lot of time with the migraines in camp is a testament to his skill.
With a full season of starting experience and an off-season of being one of the leaders of the defense, it is very possible that we will seen some marked improvement from Spond this season. Last year he proved to be reliable, but also did not standout – in either a positive or negative way – too much. He collected 39 tackles in his 11 starts and had the game sealing interception against BYU, but other than that Spond didn’t have many plays that cause you to jump out of your seat.
If Spond stays on the practice field for all of fall camp this year, he could be one of Notre Dame’s most improved players this season.
Why Danny Spond could be ranked lower
Anytime a player has problems with migraines there is reason to be concerned that the issue could come back at anytime. Football is a violent sport and it’s hard not to worry any hit that Spond delivers or gives could trigger off something. Spond was cleared by team doctors last year and didn’t have any problems occur during the season, but the issue will always be there.
Spond missed practice on Friday already although Brian Kelly would not get into specifics around what caused him to be absent other than to say that none of the players who didn’t participate in Friday’s practice had any injuries that put their playing time for the season opener against Temple in jeopardy.
What would a successful season be for Danny Spond in 2013?
Spond doesn’t play a position that is going to put up a lot of stats. The CAT linebacker spot rushed the quarterback much, much more and the inside linebackers will have many more opportunities for tackles and tackles for loss, but it is very reasonable to expect Spond to have 55-60 tackles this year if he plays in every game and improves on his performance from last year.
Where Notre Dame will need the most improvement out of Spond will be in the negative play department. The Irish defense lost seven interceptions when the Chargers drafted Manti Te’o and will be looking for multiple players to help replace that lost production.
Asside from the obvious of staying healthy all year, a successful 2013 season for Spond would see him have 4-5 tackles, a couple of sacks, and having a hand in three turnovers.
The rest of our countdown so far:
#17 - Dan Fox - ILB
#18 – Jarrett Grace – ILB
#19 – Greg Bryant – RB
#20 – Christian Lombard – RT
#21 – Elijah Shumate - S
#22 – Jaylon Smith - OLB
#23 – Ishaq Williams – OLB/DE
#24 - Max Redfield - S
#25 - CJ Prosise - WR