Where's Jaylen Sneed? Could be anywhere this fall for Notre Dame football

SOUTH BEND — Jaylen Sneed was back at Notre Dame football practice on a rainy Friday morning after joining fellow redshirt freshman linebacker Nolan Ziegler on a precautionary list in the early stages of training camp.
Defensive coordinator Al Golden was understandably pleased with that development.
“Clearly Zig and Sneed in the spring were like, ‘Let’s go,’ “ Golden said after a fully indoor practice No. 3. “I know they’ve been dinged up a little bit. Those questions are for the head coach.”
Sneed, wearing a Guardian cap atop his helmet, shined on the first day in shoulder pads as he gave the coaching staff a glimpse of his versatility. One of the stars of the Blue-Gold Game, Sneed conferred on the side with an athletic trainer midway through Friday’s team stretch.
“It was good to get Sneed back out there today, man, because I was like, ‘Whoa, OK, now he’s where he was in the spring,’ “ Golden said.
Now up to 222 pounds after a second full offseason in the weight room, Sneed is being given a chance to expand his role as a rover in base defense — “He’s a natural at that,” Golden said — a weakside linebacker in the 4-2 nickel package and an edge rusher on third down.
“How dynamic would that be if we had that guy in our defense that can rush the passer on the first third down but on the next third down we’re in a different look and he’s moving around and we can blitz?” Golden said. “That’s our goal for him because he is talented.”
A five-star recruit from Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sneed flashed havoc-wreaking speed and strength in a Gator Bowl cameo against South Carolina. His pass-rushing knack could boost that element of the Irish defense now that Isaiah Foskey is a New Orleans Saints rookie.
“He’s got good get-off; he’s got length,” Golden said of Sneed. “And he’s got excellent flexibility at the top of the movement. If he is engaged, he can dip and bend. He can counter back inside. Maybe he’ll be (225 pounds) here at some point, two months from now. He’s making a lot of progress.”
Will Jack Kiser return in 2024?
Notre Dame will benefit this season from a handful of so-called super seniors, including sixth-year players Michael Vinson, Matt Salerno, DJ Brown and graduate transfers Sam Hartman and Javontae Jean-Baptiste.
Linebacker Jack Kiser, who already holds a master’s from the Mendoza College of Business, has a hard time seeing that same path for himself in 2024.
“I think that’s tough,” said Kiser, a former IndyStar Mr. Football who enrolled at Notre Dame in January of 2019. “For me, my mindset is, ‘This is it.’ This is my last Practice 3 of fall camp ever. It’s the last team meetings. I’m really trying to soak it all in and have that mindset.”
Back from a broken left big toe that caused him to miss the Blue-Gold Game and required him to wear a walking boot for several weeks, Kiser was given the all-clear in early June. He packed on 10 pounds of muscle to get to 235 with the expectation he’ll be seeing more work at inside linebacker.
“Now, there is another year of eligibility (in 2024),” said Kiser, the former Royal Center Pioneer High School quarterback. “That’s a conversation that would have to come from Notre Dame, I think, but in my mindset, this is it. This is how I’m going to go out, and I’m excited for it.”
Marist Liufau, Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa share a bond
The recent nonbinding commitment of Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa — a four-star linebacker from Bellflower, Calif., who chose Notre Dame over fellow finalists USC and Ohio State — brought a smile to Marist Liufau’s face.
“I got to meet him on two of his visits and I got to know him and his parents pretty well,” said Liufau, who grew up in Hawaii. “His parents were actually born on the same island my parents were born on: American Samoa.”
Ranked No. 102 nationally by 247 Sports Composite, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Viliamu-Asa is the highest-rated commitment to date in Notre Dame’s 2024 recruiting cycle.
Liufau, who grew from a 175-pound cornerback to his current state as a 239-pound outside linebacker, was a three-star composite in the Class of 2019.
“We come from similar backgrounds, so it’s cool to learn, get to know him and his family,” Liufau said. “I think he’s a great player. I haven’t seen him much, but from what I’ve heard he’s an amazing player.”
After “getting to bond on a certain level” with the young man known as KVA, Liufau was more invested than most in the July 23 decision.
Just for kicks: Spencer Shrader rolls
South Florida grad transfer Spencer Shrader predictably outshined kickoff specialist Zac Yoakam in Friday’s extended field goal competition.
Shrader made four straight during one stretch, including a booming 49-yarder that came after a late timeout to simulate a freeze attempt. Yoakam missed badly from 39 and 47 yards but also converted his last three attempts in the 30- to 39-yard range.
Redshirt freshman punter Bryce McFerson and walk-on quarterback Dylan Devezin split the holding duties.

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