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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM PRESEASON 2022 33 bility to learn the new aspects of those new defenses," Bertrand said. "We're not sitting there three years in the same defense, so we need to get that learning stage out early so we can talk about the little details within each defense." Three years of that process is the definition of a grind. But it's also why Golden has consistently found himself praising his group's football IQ. They're fluent in multiple defenses. Multiple languages, really. Maybe it's a Notre Dame linebacker trait. Turnover in Golden's chair has hardly been uncommon in the last de- cade. The Irish have generally fielded sturdy defenses, which often means head coaching opportunities for the person coordinating them. It also means their linebackers have a dictionary's worth of defensive terms stored in their heads. Golden found that out himself in 2018 as a Detroit Lions assistant when he visited to do pre-draft meetings. "I remember when I came here to in- terview Drue Tranquill, his ability to talk about each system he learned was phenomenal," Golden said. Tranquill's five-year Notre Dame career featured three coordinators, Brian VanGorder, Mike Elko and Lea. The Irish's current veteran linebacker quartet will end Year 4 with that same number. Golden has noticed their old influences in meetings. "They'll say some things and it might go back to Clark's system," Golden said. "You're almost riffing with them because they've been through it and they're a smart group." Golden will count on those four veter- ans to carry the Irish's linebacker group this year. The most likely alignment right now is Kiser starting at rover, Liu- fau starting at Will and some form of a timeshare at Mike between Bertrand and Bauer. Golden has cross-trained all the linebackers at multiple spots to boost their overall knowledge of the defense, but also to see where they could fit. Each brings something different. Liufau's athleticism stands out and was the fuel behind breakout buzz last summer before a late August ankle frac- ture. Bauer has been a special teams and sub-package stalwart who could break old teammate Kurt Hinish's career record for most career games played. Bertrand stepped in for Liufau last year and made 101 tackles — 56 more than any other Irish defender. Kiser could fit at any of the three linebacker spots if needed. Golden isn't alone in marveling at their knowledge base. "Just lucky to have a smart group and guys who have played a lot of ball," de- fensive graduate assistant James Lauri- naitis said. "Jack Kiser, I joke with him that he's teach tape. Anything we want to teach technique-wise or fundamen- tals, he implements it instantly." The benefits of coachable and skilled veterans don't end with their on-field impact. There's an audience of four un- derclassmen linebackers who Golden has urged to tap into the seniors' experi- ence. It's not enough to be around them and hope their demeanor and knowl- edge rubs off by osmosis. Not if Notre Dame wants to avoid any drop-off when those veterans depart. "If I was Jaylen [Sneed], Nolan Ziegler or those guys, I'd be like, 'This is unbe- lievable, I get to learn from these guys," Golden said. "It's a blessing to have guys like that who will teach you and you have an opportunity to learn." ✦ Strong-Side End No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 99 Rylie Mills 6-5 1 ⁄8 292 Jr./3 31 Nana Osafo-Mensah 6-3 1 ⁄8 250 Sr./3 90 Alex Ehrensberger 6-6 7 ⁄8 267 Jr./3 Defensive Tackle No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 57 Jayson Ademilola 6-3 285 Gr./1 56 Howard Cross III 6-0 7 ⁄8 276 Sr./3 97 Gabriel Rubio 6-5¼ 295 So./4 98 Tyson Ford 6-3 7 ⁄8 275 Fr./4 Nose Tackle No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 54 Jacob Lacey 6-1 5 ⁄8 280 Sr./2 65 Chris Smith 6-1 3 ⁄8 310 Gr./1 47 Jason Onye 6-4½ 283 So./4 41 Donovan Hinish 6-1 5 ⁄8 280 Fr./4 92 Aidan Keanaaina* 6-3 323 Jr./3 Vyper No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 7 Isaiah Foskey 6-5 265 Sr./3 9 Justin Ademilola 6-1¾ 253 Gr./2 34 Osita Ekwonu 6-0¾ 235 Sr./3 40 Joshua Burnham 6-3½ 233 Fr./4 91 Aiden Gobaira 6-4 5 ⁄8 241 Fr./4 Will Linebacker No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 8 Marist Liufau 6-2¼ 235 Sr./3 10 Prince Kollie 6-0½ 220 So./3 17 Jaylen Sneed 6-1 1 ⁄8 215 Fr./4 Mike Linebacker No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 27 JD Bertrand 6-1 230 Sr./3 52 Bo Bauer 6-2¾ 235 Gr./1 44 Junior Tuihalamaka 6-2 240 Fr./4 Rover No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 24 Jack Kiser 6-1 5 ⁄8 223 Sr./3 12 Jordan Botelho 6-2½ 250 Jr./3 48 Will Schweitzer 6-4 225 So./4 42 Nolan Ziegler 6-3 220 Fr./4 Boundary Cornerback No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 5 Cam Hart 6-2½ 198 Sr./3 15 Ryan Barnes 6-1 7 ⁄8 190 So./4 18 Chance Tucker 5-11¾ 187 So./4 20 Benjamin Morrison 6-0¼ 179 Fr./4 Field Cornerback No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 6 Clarence Lewis 5-11½ 203 Jr./3 21 Jaden Mickey 5-11½ 176 Fr./4 23 Jayden Bellamy 5-11 175 Fr./4 Nickel Back No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 28 TaRiq Bracy 5-10 1 ⁄8 185 Gr./1 25 Philip Riley 5-11½ 195 So./4 Strong Safety No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 16 Brandon Joseph 6-1 196 Sr./3 3 Houston Griffith 6-0¼ 205 Gr./1 4 Xavier Watts 5-11¾ 193 Jr./3 Free Safety No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 2 DJ Brown 6-0 3 ⁄8 200 Gr./2 11 Ramon Henderson 6-1 190 Jr./3 22 Justin Walters 6-0 5 ⁄8 190 So./4 SPECIAL TEAMS Kicker No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 99 Blake Grupe 5-7 3 ⁄8 156 Gr./1 91 Joshua Bryan 5-11 5 ⁄8 191 So./4 Punter No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 14 Bryce McFerson 6-1½ 190 Fr./4 Long Snapper No. Player Ht. Wt. Cl./Elig. 65 Michael Vinson 6-2 228 Gr./2 44 Alex Peitsch 6-1 1 ⁄8 215 Jr./4 * Injured BGI 2022 NOTRE DAME SCHOLARSHIP DEPTH CHART: DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS After having an opportunity to watch a portion of a handful of practices in August, this is Blue & Gold Illustrated's projection for how Notre Dame's 2022 depth chart will shake out when the Fighting Irish kick off the season in September.

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