Notre Dame received its 20th verbal commitment for the class of 2015 from Indiana linebacker Asmar Bilal. Bilal, who profiles as a will linebacker for the Irish, is listed at 6'3" and 205 pounds, and is currently ranked #179 overall in the 247 Composite and as the #7 inside linebacker. In addition to Notre Dame, the Army All-American holds offers from Michigan, his putative #2, Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin, among many others.
Bilal had been thoroughly inscrutable during his recruitment, giving little indication of where he was leaning or even where he wanted to visit. A rumored official visit to Notre Dame and several rumored unofficial visits never came to pass, and Irish fans grew restless waiting for some sign that Bilal's interest in Notre Dame was real. The consensus among the services, though, was not that he's a flake but that he's a kid who is very focused on his high school team and has no taste for the recruiting process. How refreshing.
There is some thought that perhaps Bilal wanted to secure his spot in the class before Tevon Coney announces next week. Several analysts believe, however, that the Irish would take both players - especially since Coney is a clear mike linebacker and Bilal a clear will, so they don't play the same position - but it is a situation that bears watching.
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals - 4 star (5.8 grade), NR overall, #22 position (OLB), #3 in Indiana
247 - 4 star (93 rating), #168 overall, #7 position (ILB), #2 in Indiana
ESPN - 4 star (80 rating), NR overall, #20 position (OLB), #3 in Indiana
Scout - 4 star, #86 overall, #8 position (OLB), #2 in Indiana
247 Composite - 4 star (0.9201 rating), #179 overall, #3 position (ILB), #3 in Indiana
As with any reported 40 time for a high school kid, believe that 4.6 at your own risk. However, it's pretty clear from his highlights that whatever his track time is, on the field the kid is fast. I especially like seeing those kick returns in there, because that's some athleticism. He also seems to enjoy laying a hit when he gets to the ball carrier.
Listed at either 205 pounds or 210 by most of the services, Bilal will definitely have to put on some good weight to be physically competitive at the next level. The will linebacker position in VanGorder's defense doesn't have to be huge, but at Bilal's height a solid 225-230 pounds would be nice. That likely translates to a freshman year spent learning the ropes and getting stronger, although with that speed and thumping ability I could see him playing early on special teams.
It's all about mental development. Bilal has the athleticism his position demands, no question about that. He's not quite as much of a natural at the business of being a linebacker as, for example, Josh Barajas is, so he may need some more time to work on that aspect of his game. If it all comes together, he could certainly be contributing as a sophomore and starting as a junior.