Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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2022 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE More than anything or anyone else, Freeman is the reason for that. Payne went as far as to say former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly had "zero im- pact" on Sneed's recruitment. "When Jaylen Sneed says Marcus Freeman was the reason he chose Notre Dame, it was 100 percent Marcus Free- man." "He's a down-to-earth, humble guy," Sneed added. "He's taught me a lot even though I've only known him for two years or so." There's still so much more to learn. For starters, it's best to be able to back up words on the field. Talk the talk only if you can walk the walk. Maybe Sneed already knows that. There's a difference between cockiness and confidence, but a combination of the two with more emphasis on the latter is lethal. And so is a certain athletic attribute Sneed wasn't shy to say he has a lot of. "I think I'm special because speed kills," Sneed said. "I think I'm faster than most of the linebackers here right now. And I think if I just show how ex- plosive I am and I'm able to get to my spots and learn the playbook, I think I'll be able to get on the field early." It might be too early to tell what po- sition provides Sneed's quickest path to playing time, but one thing is cer- tain: he's going to need to be a warrior in strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis' offseason program. Sneed is listed at 198 pounds on the current roster, making him the lightest linebacker on the team. If he bulks up and maintains the speed he's so certain he has, then comparisons like Jeremiah Owusu- Koramoah come into play. "Watching him play his senior year was simply amazing," Sneed said. "What he was able to do at the rover position, I could definitely see myself doing stuff like that." Owusu-Koramoah played at 215 pounds that year. He won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. He was one of the best rookies in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns this past season. If the Sneed comparisons to Owusu- Koramoah pan out, there's no wonder Freeman recruited him harder than any coach in America. Sure, the friendship with Payne made it easier to be that way. But when it came down to it, Free- man still had to put in the effort. Sneed had other options. But in the end, there was no place he'd rather have ended up. "When I first saw that Golden Dome, I knew this is exactly where I needed to be," Sneed said. ✦ Sneed was named Mr. Football in South Carolina and was tabbed as an Under Armour All- American. PHOTO BY MIKE SINGER JAYLEN SNEED LINEBACKER 6-1 · 198 HILTON HEAD H.S. HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE consensus ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 33 3 1 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 26 2 1 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 47 6 2 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 46 4 2 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 42 5 2 STATISTICS • Totaled 101 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one sack, eight quarterback hits, two interceptions, one pass broken up and two blocked punts during his senior campaign in 2021. • At quarterback in 2021, connected on 27 of 50 throws for 210 yards with two touchdowns, and had 117 rushes for 815 yards and 11 touchdowns. • In 2019, recorded 76 stops, 18 tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recov- eries, four passes broken up and an interception. • Junior season was cut to just two games due to COVID-19 cancellations. NOTABLE • Born on March 11, 2004. • 2022 Under Armour All-American. • Made five tackles and recovered a fumble in the Under Armour All-America Game. • 2021 South Carolina Mr. Football. • 2021 South Carolina Football Coaches Associa- tion All-State. • 2021 South Carolina Region 7-AAAA Player of the Year. • 2021 Maxwell Football Club's National High School Defensive Player of the Year Award semi- finalist. • 2021 High School Butkus Award finalist. RECRUITMENT • Committed to Notre Dame on July 12, 2021. • Enrolled at Notre Dame in January 2022. • Picked Notre Dame over offers from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and others. • Recruited by Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman. • Officially visited Notre Dame on June 14, 2021, and made it back to campus for the Cincinnati game on Oct. 2, 2021. 2022 PROJECTION • Sneed has the potential to play a role on spe- cial teams and/or at linebacker as a true freshman in 2022. THEY SAID IT Former Notre Dame linebacker Mike Goolsby: "He just has God-given, All-SEC type ability. He does things you can't coach. When I watch him on film, I struggle to find critiques. When you're 6-1 with long arms, that's what you're looking for. "This kid can do it all. He has natural fluidity as an athlete. He will need some time to learn at the will or rover position. He could be used more as a blitzer earlier in his career until he learns more about route concepts and coverages." Hilton Head head coach BJ Payne: "I'm extremely proud of Jaylen for navigating through the crazy world of recruiting and finding the right fit for him as a player, student and person. He truly researched the right fits for him in all aspects since Day 1. "He is a very determined young man with very high goals, and I can't wait to see him go after and accomplish those goals at Notre Dame." National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming: "Jay- len has the height, length, speed, range and pass- rushing skills to become a dominating player at the next level. A smart, technically sound backer, he is hard to control coming off the edge. He shows a very good understanding of the game. "At times last season, he was asked to pin his ears back and rush the passer, and he also proved to be a good run stuffer. He shows an impressive swim move and the ability to quickly disengage and the lateral agility to slip past blockers and nab the ball carrier." BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 69

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