Will Drew White Be Best Player on Field for Notre Dame’s Defense?

After two great seasons as starting linebacker for the Fighting Irish, Senior Drew White is primed to have his best year this fall. With the departure of superstar and 2020 Butkus Award winner Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, White must continue his leadership on and off the field. As Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman enters his first season in South Bend, the Notre Dame Defense looks to take their elite play to even greater heights.

Player Profile

  • Position: Middle Linebacker
  • Grade: Senior (Grad Student)
  • Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida
  • High School: St. Thomas Aquinas
  • 2017 Class Ranking: #977 player nationally and #41 Inside linebacker according to 247 Sports

Statistics

  • 2018: 8 total tackles, 2 solo, 0 sacks
  • 2019: 80 total tackles, 48 solo, 2 sacks
  • 2020: 47 total tackles, 25 solo, 1.5 sacks
  • Career: 135 total tackles, 75 solo, 3.5 sacks

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s praises

Future first-round pick Owusu-Koramoah speaks highly of Drew White. During Notre Dame’s Pro Day Media interviews in South Bend, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had time to reflect not only on how his skills will translate to the NFL, but he also gave high praises to his former teammate Drew White. He referred to Dew White as an amazing guy, true leader, vocalist, a teammate he can count on, and overall a genuine guy.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah stated, “You guys will be looking for a big year out of him.” If these past few years have been any indication, Notre Dame fans should be excited for the Marcus Freeman Defense led by White in 2021.

“I expect Drew White to be the best player on the field, even with Kyle Hamilton on the field.” Perhaps the most surprising quote from Owusu-Koramoah was the praise he gave White in comparison to the elite talent of Kyle Hamilton. Obviously, this was not a knock-on Hamilton, but instead a significant compliment to a sometimes underrated and overlooked Drew White.

This statement should have Notre Dame fans excited for this fall because the quote is not coming from a member of the media or writer, but the best linebacker in the country last season.

Growth and Leadership

White was an underrated recruit for the Fighting Irish. Drew White was not the highest-rated prospect for Notre Dame’s 2017 recruiting class, but that has not stopped the Irish linebacker from becoming a starter and a crucial part of the defense. There are pros and cons to doing player comparisons, but I keep thinking of Drue Tranquill, who had 63 total tackles and 3.5 sacks in his final year for the Irish.

In White’s 2019 season, he compiled 80 tackles himself. Hopefully, the Irish linebacker can add more sacks to his career total in this upcoming season and continue to prove that he belongs in the NFL like Drue Tranquill. The current Los Angeles Charger, Tranquill, was taken in the 4th round of the 2019 draft.

Drew White is a potential captain for Notre Dame this fall. If White can continue the leadership that Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah mentioned in his press conference, there is a good chance he could be wearing a “C” this season. Similarly, Drue Tranquill was a two-time captain for the Irish.

Captains are often determined by many factors that the average fan cannot see in the news on or television, and if Drew White becomes a captain in 2021, that would not surprise me at all.

Marcus Freeman’s Defense

Freeman takes over as defensive coordinator in South Bend. After watching videos of Coach Freeman at Cincinnati and now for the Fighting Irish, he is one of the most passionate coaches in the country. The 35-year-old defensive coordinator is undoubtedly fired up at practices.

It sounds cliché, but Marcus Freeman seems like a true players’ coach, and that has been evident by Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts on the defensive side of the ball and high school prospects who want to play for him and the Fighting Irish.

There is a Notre Dame Linebacker legacy. Since Brian Kelly became Head Coach, Manti Te’o (2012), Jaylon Smith (2015), and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (2020) have all won the Butkus Award for best linebacker in the nation. I am not saying Drew White is a favorite to have the honor next fall, but he does have potential, and the program is a great platform to do so.

White will likely be alongside Marist Liufau, Shayne Simon, Jack Kiser, Isaiah Pryor, and even others this fall. The depth at linebacker and defensive line for the Irish is phenomenal and hopefully encourages competition at practice.

Final Thoughts

Notre Dame’s defense was vital to the recent playoff runs. Brian Kelly has a defense that can compete for a national championship. Last year, the Fighting Irish held Alabama to only 31-points and 437 total yards, albeit they were running a methodical style offense against the Crimson Tide.

Marcus Freeman looks to pick up where Clark Lea left off in 2020. Coach Freeman has already established himself as one of the top defensive coordinators in the nation and now has the platform to showcase his talents on the major stage at Notre Dame.

White will play a significant role in the 2021 playoff push. In previous articles, I have written about players who will be vital on the offensive side of the football, but there may not be a more important player than Senior Drew White for the defense. His consistency in production and leadership have been crucial these past several years.

The Notre Dame Defense brings back depth, and with the leadership of Drew White at middle linebacker, they are prepared to have another great year in South Bend.

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