A discerning listener heard Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman unintentionally hint at anticipated linebacker transfers on Wednesday, and the first announced his intentions Saturday night. Irish senior Shayne Simon will enter the transfer portal after Notre Dame plays in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 (1 ET; ESPN) against No. 9 Oklahoma State (11-2).
Simon should have two years of eligibility remaining, thanks in part to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver and in part to a season-ending shoulder injury suffered in the 2021 opener.
“To my teammates, thank you for creating an amazing brotherhood that has carried this program to greater heights,” Simon posted to Twitter. “Coach Freeman, thank you, especially, for your support.”
Freeman spent the 2021 season not only as Simon’s defensive coordinator but also as his position coach. Thus, he was undoubtedly tuned into the coming decisions from his position group.
“We’re losing three, maybe four linebackers as we move forward,” Freeman said during Wednesday’s press conference about the newly-signed recruits. “So we knew that was a position where we had to bring in some guys that can be immediate help, and the guys that can develop.”
Notre Dame signed four linebackers, including three within the top-200 recruits according to rivals.com rankings, hence Freeman naturally praising them Wednesday. His statement may have been more tied to that praise than anything else, but his indication of multiple linebackers leaving the Irish roster stood out, nonetheless, since only fifth-year linebacker Drew White would have been a cut-and-dry obvious case ready to exit, though even he has an additional year of eligibility thanks to the universal pandemic waiver.
Forever Love Thee🍀 pic.twitter.com/5e3Y2sSYnR
— Shayne Simon (@SimonShayne) December 18, 2021
Simon appeared in 31 games across four years with Notre Dame, making 27 tackles and breaking up five passes. His career was stalled multiple times by injuries, most notably that shoulder injury to begin the 2021 season when playing time was available for him to otherwise grasp.
With Simon thus sidelined, junior linebacker JD Bertrand led the Irish in tackles with 92, nearly double the next highest tally, White’s 49. Bertrand should be a clear starter in 2022, dampening Simon’s chances of ever enjoying a leading role at Notre Dame.
Figuring out who Bertrand will start next to in 2022 depends partly on other decisions regarding transfers, on which this space will not speculate, particularly since the timetable on such processes is relatively short.
When campus isn’t open on the weekend to receive boxes you have the bowl gear sent to your house. pic.twitter.com/AuKa3FXmUt
— Chris Bacsik (@NDFBEquipment) December 18, 2021
Notre Dame gets the letters: Consensus four-star linebackers Jaylen Sneed and Joshua Burnham
Consensus four-star safety (and possible future linebacker) Nolan Ziegler
Consensus four-star linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka, former USC commit