Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2015.
There were 11 players this past year who retained a year of eligibility and today we look at speedy linebacker from Indianapolis who may be the next young star for Notre Dame.
LB, Asmar Bilal
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
247 Sports COMPOSITE RANKING:
4-star, No. 6 ILB, No. 3 IN, No. 184 USA, 0.920 Score
Need at Position: Medium to High
Expected Spot on 2016 Depth Chart: Often Used Backup
Notre Dame's haul at linebacker for 2015 was very, very good. Maybe not the best haul in the country but it was up there among the best. One of those players (Te'von Coney) got to see the field this past fall, another (Josh Barajas) we've already profiled in the RtR series, and today we finish everything up with Asmar Bilal. Here were my comments on him following last year's National Signing Day:
Tremendous athlete with really good speed. Bilal reminds me of the type of athlete a program like LSU stockpiles at linebacker: lean, fast, and relishes contact. If he was a touch bigger and with better linebacker instincts there's no doubt in my mind Bilal would be a 5-star prospect. As it is, I'm not worried about his size right now because I covet his speed and penetrating ability. It's up to the Notre Dame coaching staff to refine his skills and I hope they can do it because Bilal is among the most promising linebackers in terms of ceiling that the Irish have signed over the past decade.
Every once in a while a recruit comes around who isn't a top 10 can't miss prospect who you just know is destined for great things. Bilal is that player in my eyes. He was probably my favorite recruit from the 2015 class, earned Indianapolis Player of the Year honors as a senior, and just finished his redshirt season as the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year.
Bilal is a local product, seems like a great cultural fit, and I've been as impressed with him in front of the media as anyone in his class. When Brian Kelly spoke to the media prior to the bowl game he mentioned that Bilal was mature for his age and very physical. I think he's got future captain potential, for sure.
Size has been an issue for Bilal as he was listed at 215 pounds last August and was already sporting a toned and muscular physique as a freshman. Think Jaylon Smith's body as a freshman but an inch shorter and 15 pounds lighter. There's hope he can get up to 230 but much more than that probably isn't in the cards.
As such, Bilal isn't playing middle linebacker for the Irish. When Kelly spoke about him in December he said he's either at the strong-side or weak-side positions. This is where things can get interesting. Both Greer Martini and Te'von Coney are out for the spring with injuries. If you assume James Onwualu continues with the firs-team at SAM there might be a huge opportunity for Bilal to move to WILL and spend all spring being a starter for a bit.
I wouldn't be surprised if Bilal hangs on to that hypothetical starting position when fall camp begins but admittedly I'm about as bullish on him as you can be. If he's moved to weak-side the competition between him and a returning Coney for that position will be absolutely phenomenal to watch.