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Blue & Gold Illustrated

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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16 OCT. 7, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY ANDREW MENTOCK E ven sitting at a table with jour- nalists from regional newspa- pers and national magazines and websites, Notre Dame line- backer Asmar Bilal admits that dealing with the press is his least favorite part about playing major college football. "I wasn't excited about it," Bilal said. "I'm not going to lie. I'm not much of a media guy." No offense is taken. Most introverts — especially one that even Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has described as quiet — don't enjoy it when microphones and recorders are placed in front of them and they're expected to speak. This is who Bilal is and who he's always been, dating back to his days at Ben Davis High School in India- napolis. There were times when a newspaper reporter wanted to speak with him after a game, and he would decline the offer and recommend one of his teammates. That never stopped him from pursu- ing the game of football at a high level. He loves it, which is why he came back to Notre Dame for his fifth year, as a non-degree seeking student, after receiving his diploma in the spring. Bilal wants to be with his teammates one more time and win a national championship. He's not shy about that. "He plays for the right reasons," said Mike Kirschner, who was Bilal's high school coach. "He not looking to get his name in the paper, and he's not looking to be interviewed." There are times where he does need to speak up. An area where his tendency to be quiet can hinder him is in his ability to be a leader and an effective communicator on the foot- ball field. In the past, this wasn't much of an issue. Last season, seniors Te'von Coney and Drue Tranquill were the starting Buck and Mike linebackers, and they could read the defense and make sure everyone was in position. But heading into this season, Coney and Tranquill had graduated and Bilal was by far the most experienced linebacker on the Notre Dame roster. POSITION OF INFLUENCE The unassuming Asmar Bilal has taken on an uncomfortable role for the Irish and is thriving as a leader

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