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We’re only 1/12 of the way through the regular season but already Notre Dame’s linebacking group looks as much like the waiting room at a doctor’s office as they do a football team.
Marist Liufau was lost for the year late in fall camp while the opener at Florida State resulted in season-ending injuries to both Shayne Simon and Paul Moala.
As a result a young Notre Dame receiver is making the move to linebacker as Brian Kelly announced the plan Thursday to play sophomore Xavier Watts at the Rover linebacker position this week against Toledo.
“We wanted to strengthen that position, so we feel like with him there,” said Kelly, “it gives us the ability to cross train Jack Kiser at the inside linebacker position in case there is a need there.”
Kelly added that he feels the recent linebacker moves strengthen the position for the rest of the season, which stuck out to me, especially after he was asked later on about Watts and never declared the move to be something beyond 2021.
“One of my jobs is to get really good players on the field and we had a little bit of a logjam at the wide receiver position. Xavier is a really good football player and we need to get good players on the field…We’re gonna play him Saturday…When we get into the right situation, look, he doesn’t have all the knowledge of the position, we’re gonna pick our spots, you’re not gonna see him line up there the first play or the first series, but we’re gonna pick our spots and get him involved.”
It will certainly be compelling to see if Toledo tests Watts whenever those situations occur.