Next Man In: Notre Dame True Freshman Prince Kollie

Over the span of 12 days, the Notre Dame linebacking corps has gotten quite a bit thinner.  First, expected 2021 breakout star Marist Liafau broke and dislocated his ankle during an August 25th practice in preparation for Notre Dame’s opening season game against Florida State University.  He has since had surgery and will be lost for the season.  Then, during the Florida State game, linebacker Paul Moala, who had previously torn an Achilles tendon during the 2020 season, tragically tore his other Achilles tendon and will also miss the 2021 season. 

With the loss of two linebackers expected to contribute significantly during the 2021 season, those reserves not expected to contribute will need to be called upon.  Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly was asked whether star recruit and true freshman Prince Kollie might be pressed into action sooner rather than later.  It appears that might be the case:

“It doesn’t matter how good you are. We’ve got to be able to trust you,” Kelly responded.  “And that trust is going to have to be accelerated with Prince.  So, yes, he’s moving inside, and he’s going to get work, and we may have to call on him a little sooner than we expected.”

Prince Kollie Profile:

  • 6’1” and 222 pounds
  • Composite 4-Star 2021 Recruit
    • Rivals: #18 Linebacker, #243 Overall
    • On3: #2 Linebacker, #25 Overall
    • 247: #18 Linebacker, #143 Overall
    • ESPN: #18 Linebacker, #170 Overall

As impressive as his recruiting rankings were, equally impressive was his offer list.  Amongst the 32 scholarship offers extended to Prince Kollie were the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, and Oklahoma, in addition to Notre Dame.  That is a literal who’s who of the top programs in college football.

Middle linebacker Drew White had only good things to say about Kollie during fall camp.  “Prince Kollie has done amazing here in his short time.  I thought he had an amazing summer,” remarked the Irish captain.  “I can’t wait to see him continue to build on both his physical capabilities. He’s only going to get bigger and stronger, which is crazy because he’s already huge. And then that mental aspect as well.”

In 2020, Prince Kollie was the recipient of the Butkus Award, which is annually awarded to the country’s best high school linebacker.  Previous winners of the award include Notre Dame greats Manti Teo and Jaylon Smith – not bad company to keep.  Both Teo and Smith played considerable time as freshmen, and it appears that Kollie will be doing so as well.  If the hard-hitting linebacker can live up to the standard set by Teo and Smith, Notre Dame looks to be in very good hands.

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