One of the big surprises from yesterday’s depth chart reveal from Brian Kelly and Notre Dame came at the BUCK position where junior Shayne Simon won the job with sophomore Marist Liufai backing him up. Senior Jordan Genmark-Heath, thought at one time to be the favorite to replace Asmar Bilal, was not listed. A few hours later, he announced his intention to transfer following the fall semester.
Jordan Genmark-Heath arrived at Notre Dame in the late recruiting push of 2017 following the ouster of Brian Vangorder and arrival of then DC Mike Elko and Clark Lea. Notre Dame’s revamped coaching staff added JGH along with Jeremiah-Owusu-Koramoah, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, and Kofi Wardlow all in the final weeks of the cycle with late pushes. Two of those four will be multi-year starters this fall. Genmark-Heath, however, fell behind at BUCK and will pursue his football career elsewhere after sitting out this fall and completing his Notre Dame degree.
Anyone who follows Genmark-Heath on Twitter knows that while the Irish might not be losing a starter on the field, they are losing a star off of the field. Genmark-Heath is a bright, articulate young man who has a very bright future ahead of him whether that’s on or off the football field.
On the field, it looked like he might be the heir apparent to Drue Tranquil after serving as his backup in 2018, but he wasn’t able to secure the job when Bilal moved over from ROVER and has since gotten lost in the midst of what is suddenly a deep and potentially very talented linebacking corps.
Last year Drew White emerged almost out of nowhere in fall camp to secure the MIKE position and never look back. Owusu-Koramoah, a late signee in 2017 like Genmark-Heath, has developed into a potential 1st-round NFL draft pick at ROVER. Simon, Notre Dame’s new starting BUCK, has been a physically gifted player since arriving on campus and is starting to play to his potential.
This group of backers is one of the fastest that Notre Dame may have ever fielded. The talent and athleticism behind them is impressive as well. Jack Lamb has played a lot of football for Notre Dame already and the former 4-star recruit isn’t even on the two-deep. Liufai is one of four extremely talented sophomore backers and won’t be the last of the group to see the starting lineup. JD Bertrand could be White’s heir apparent. Jack Kiser will be a special teams ace this year. Osita Ekwonu still could have a bright future on defense as well despite cross-training at running back right now.
Notre Dame has just one linebacker committed for the class of 2021, but that one backer, Prince Kollie, is pretty damn good too.
Don’t look now, but Notre Dame suddenly has depth and talent at both linebacker and defensive line. The defensive backfield is about to get an infusion of talent as well with the class of 2021 featuring four defensive backs with possibly more to come.
Notre Dame has had some good top-line players in the linebacking corps the last few years like Tranquill and Tevon Coney, but they haven’t had the kind of depth they have at linebacker as they do right now in quite some time. Think of it this way, the backup BUCK linebacker from the 2018 squad that went to the playoffs couldn’t crack the two-deep this year. That says a lot about the depth Notre Dame has built at the position over the last few years.
That’s not a knock on Genmark-Heath either. As I mentioned earlier, Notre Dame will miss JGH on and off the field this year. It is, however, more of a statement as to the quality of athlete that Clark Lea has attracted and developed at Notre Dame over the last 3+ seasons.