Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2016 Issue

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

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Page 5 of 133

IN THE TRENCHES ANDREW OWENS N o t r e D a m e carried only four healthy scholarship line- backers through spring practice, so it was difficult to get a true feel for how the unit will fully shake out when the season begins at Texas. Yet linebackers coach Mike Elston feels good about where it is headed. "If we had every- body healthy right now, we would be [feeling] very, very good," Elston said. "Assuming [soph- omore] Te'von [Co- ney] and [junior] Greer [Martini] come back healthy at the level that they were and they can move their game forward during summer and fall camp, we're going to have a very solid linebacking corps." The Irish lost two of three line- backer starters this offseason, with Mike linebacker Joe Schmidt having graduated and Will linebacker Jaylon Smith off to the NFL with a future made murky by a torn ACL and LCL suffered in the Fiesta Bowl. "When you say Jaylon, the first thing that comes to my mind is pro- duction," Elston said. "Someone's got to replace the production. Jay- lon wasn't a verbal leader per se. Joe was that guy. Jaylon was a produc- tion man. He made everybody else around him better because he was going to make up for you. "You got reached as a defensive tackle, what's he going to do? He's going to get to the ball and make the Replacing Jaylon Smith And Joe Schmidt Talented junior Nyles Morgan is in line to start at Mike linebacker, but it will take a group effort to fill the void created by the departures of Smith and Schmidt. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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