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This Guys Plays Notre Dame Football: #27 JD Bertrand, Linebacker

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Let’s talk about sophomore linebacker JD Bertrand and his future in Clark Lea’s defense

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Camping World Bowl - Notre Dame v Iowa State Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2020 season.

#27 JD Bertrand, Linebacker

JD Bertrand was a pretty late addition to the 2019 recruiting class for the Fighting Irish, as the 4-star linebacker out of Roswell, GA seemed pretty solidly committed to the Georgia Bulldogs for a long time.

The 6’1”, 220-lb outside linebacker had committed to the Dawgs all the way back in July 2017, and remained committed to Kirby Smart until October of his senior year, when he decommitted and began to look at other programs.

Besides Georgia and ND, he held offers from a smattering of strong programs around the country, including Wisconsin, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, Iowa State, North Carolina, Colorado, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, and Georgia Tech.

The #366 overall prospect in the 247sports composite rankings (#19 OLB) was an absolute machine in high school, totaling 278 tackles, 37.5 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles, 2 passes defended, and 1 interception throughout his career at Blessed Trinity High School. His combination of speed, athleticism, and strength is really fun to watch.

That production helped him lead Blessed Trinity to back-to-back Georgia Class AAAA state titles in 2017 and 2018, and considering the level of competition in Georgia, that’s no joke.

After decommitting from Georgia in October, Bertrand officially visited the Irish in November, committing to Brian Kelly and his staff just two days later.

He signed the following month on Early Signing Day and arrived in South Bend in the summer. In 2019, he saw action in four games, exclusively on special teams, playing against Bowling Green, Navy, Boston College, and Stanford while preserving a redshirt year to give him eligibility through the 2023-2024 season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Camping World Bowl - Notre Dame v Iowa State Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Spirit Animal

Tiger (according to www.spiritanimal.info)

I decided for Bertrand’s spirit animal I would leave it up to the experts, and thus I went to this website to take their “What Is My Spirit Animal?” quiz, answering all their questions as best I could pretending to be JD Bertrand.

This was my favorite question of the quiz, and I like to think I nailed it with JD’s answer:

Anyway, I think a tiger is a very fitting spirit animal for Bertrand, as it really epitomizes his sleek, fast, hunt-the-ball-carrier attitude on the field. Bertrand will quickly assess the play, stalk his prey, and then pounce, taking them down oftentimes before they even make it back to the line of scrimmage.

JD Bertrand is absolutely a tiger, and I have the online quiz result to prove it.

2020 Outlook

Right now, Bertrand is slotted into the depth chart at middle linebacker, meaning there is a good deal of upperclassmen depth above him. Senior Drew White is the starter at the position after a solid 2019 season, and juniors Bo Bauer and Shayne Simon will back him up, providing veteran experience, hard-hitting ability, and athleticism behind White.

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

So, Bertrand probably won’t see much time at linebacker this season, considering he’s just a sophomore and there’s a bunch of veteran guys ahead of him. Perhaps he’ll get out there in garbage time of some blowouts, but otherwise, expect Bertrand to continue to contribute on special teams, this year perhaps in an expanded, starting-on-a-few-special-teams-units role.

I imagine he will continue to develop, use his size and athleticism to make some plays on kick coverage units, and then in a year or two should be ready to step in as a major contributor at linebacker, once the logjam ahead of him clears out a bit.