If it is possible to have too many highly-touted recruits at a position, Notre Dame may have entered that territory at linebacker in the class of 2022 with the commitment of consensus four-star Jaylen Sneed (Hilton Head Island High School; S.C.) on Monday.
To be clear, that is not possible, particularly at linebacker, where a fourth four-star linebacker should simply lead to relentless depth in future years, particularly when combined with incoming freshman Prince Kollie, named the best high school linebacker in the country in 2020.
The No. 46 player in the country, per rivals.com, Sneed chose the Irish over Oregon while also holding scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida and Michigan, along with most of the country’s other best programs. Again going by Rivals rankings, Sneed is the third top-five linebacker new Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman has reeled in since he was hired this winter. Sneed is the No. 5 outside linebacker in the class, while Bo Burnham is the No. 4 inside linebacker followed immediately by former USC commit Niuafe Tuihalamaka.
The first of the bunch to commit, nearly a year ago at this point, Nolan Ziegler is considered an “athlete” by the recruiting rankings service, but his overall evaluation puts him just a few notches behind Tuihalamaka.
Sneed may be the best of the group. His 6-foot-2 frame already includes broad shoulders, but not so broad as to rob him of quickness around the edge. He knows not to simply hit a ball carrier, but to wrap him up.
Whether it be via simple football instincts or thorough film study, Sneed makes quick and correct decisions, although he has not been tested much in coverage in high school competition. He has, however, proven up to that task while on the camp circuit.
— Rivals (@Rivals) June 17, 2021
Much can, has and will be said about Freeman’s recruiting. How he has built out this class to 10 defenders already does not matter as much as the fact that he has — 10 defenders that now include eight four-stars.
“He definitely was one of the biggest factors in me committing to Notre Dame,” Sneed said to Blue & Gold Illustrated. “He recruited me every day, and we talked on the phone at least two or three times every week. We still talk a lot. He’s a great coach, and we have a great relationship.”
Notre Dame did lose the commitment of three-star defensive end Darren Agu on Sunday. A lengthy prospect, Agu looked like a long-term project with worthwhile potential in a program that has made a regular habit of developing defensive linemen of late. But given that the Irish have already secured a pair of four-star defensive ends in the class of 2023, Agu’s de-commitment can be taken in relative stride.