Notre Dame received its 21st commitment for the recruiting class of 2015 when Florida linebacker Te'Von Coney announced for the Irish at his high school this morning. Coney is listed at 6'1" and 222 pounds; in the 247 Composite, he's ranked #374 overall, #10 at inside linebacker, and #53 in Florida. Despite that underwhelming ranking, Coney has offers from a laundry list of elite-to-respectable programs: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, Miami, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Pitt, Tennessee, and West Virginia, among others. Florida was after him hard and was the main competition for the Irish, with Miami running a clear third.
Coney camped at Notre Dame over the summer and was blown away, immediately moving the Irish to the co-leader position with Florida. He took an official visit to Notre Dame for the Michigan game - and the avid social media user was clearly hyped before the demolition even began:
ND Vs Michigan Game Tonight— Tevon Coney9⃣ (@TevonConey) September 6, 2014
For the record, Michigan still hasn't scored.
Linebacker recruiting for this class is likely complete, with Josh Barajas and Asmar Bilal already on board. Those three bring exceptional athleticism to the second level of the defense and it will be fun to watch them develop together. Also, for those of you worrying about a potential flip to Florida, note that Coney intends to enroll early - that means any new Florida coach would have at most around two weeks from the conclusion of the Will Muschamp Death March to build a relationship with Coney and flip him, all while holding together the tatters of their class that will remain at that point. Not likely.
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals - 4 star (5.8 rating), NR overall, #11 position, #43 in Florida
247 - 4 star (90 rating), NR overall, #10 position, #39 in Florida
ESPN - 4 star (80 rating), NR overall, #19 position, #53 in Florida
Scout - 3 star, NR overall, #14 position, #48 in Florida
247 Composite - 3 star (0.8802 rating), #374 overall, #10 position, #53 in Florida
Coney definitely has two of the most important defensive traits down pat: he takes the shortest route to the ball carrier, and he arrives in ill humor. He times blitzes very well, and when he gets a hold of someone the play is over. He also adjusts well on the fly - on a few of these highlights, you can see he's coming on a blitz but diagnoses the play and changes course - and does a good job picking his way through traffic to take a good angle on the ball carrier. In terms of areas for improvement, it does look like he plays a little bit upright, which no doubt will be coached out of him in South Bend.
Te'Von has the physical characteristics he would need to contribute immediately at inside linebacker - it wouldn't take much work for him to add about 10 pounds, and he's definitely fast and fierce enough - but it's hard to imagine him stealing playing time right away from likely fifth-year senior Joe Schmidt and sophomore blue-chipper Nyles Morgan, who has contributed on special teams all season. With his physicality, he may be able to take a similar path to Morgan - get acclimated to the college game on special teams while learning the nuances of his "real" position.
Long Term / Career:
Coney absolutely has the tools to become the eventual starter at middle linebacker. He'll likely earn the #2 slot as a sophomore, and then assume the starting role either in 2017 or 2018, depending on how Morgan's career unfolds. He's yet another fast, athletic, mean linebacker in a 2015 group that will quickly shore up a unit that had a thin depth chart to start the 2014 season. When all three of these guys develop and get on the field together, it'll be a lot of fun to watch them fly around and obliterate people.