Notre Dame football recruiting: Recruit to add depth at linebacker

South Bend Tribune

As the Notre Dame coaching staff continues to look for inside linebackers for the 2014 recruiting class, Greer Martini keeps improving.

Martini, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound inside linebacker, became the first prospect to verbally commit to Notre Dame’s 2014 recruiting class in July 2012. With a clear need for fresh bodies at the inside positions, the Irish staff started the search successfully. Martini remains the only inside linebacker in the ND class, but he’s come a long way since his commitment.

“I’ve improved a lot on my open-field tackling,” Martini said. “I feel like I’m coming downhill a lot quicker and with a lot more force. Instead of running backs getting extra yardage after the hit, I’m usually taking them back toward the line of scrimmage.”

Through six games of his senior season at Woodberry Forest (Va.) School, Martini has tallied 67 tackles. He’s been credited with the first hit on 27 of those tackles. His largest output, 17 tackles, came in last week’s 45-17 win over Landon. Martini also received his first chance on Friday to play tight end as a senior. The result was three catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Martini has helped lead a young Woodberry Forest team, and the coaching staff has used him in all phases of the game. But his strength remains at linebacker, where he’s commanding a defensive unit to allow just 13.3 points per game and a 5-1 record.

“His leadership is off the charts and he literally has willed us to wins,” Alexander said. “We started the season as a young and unproven defense and have become a great defense. That’s mostly because of Greer.”

In addition to preparing for his own games, he spends time reviewing the play of Notre Dame’s linebackers every week. After watching the game once, he spends time with Alexander dissecting the good and bad of ND’s inside linebackers.

Notre Dame’s depth at inside linebacker will be tested for the remainder of the 2013 season with the loss of Jarrett Grace to injury. When Martini arrives next season, even more playing time will be up for grabs following the graduation of starters Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox.

“Honestly as a competitor, I want to come in with the best chance to play,” Martini said. “Knowing that I’ll have a good chance if I go in there and prove myself to maybe get some playing time is real exciting for me and encouraging. But also I know how hard I’ll have to work to get that chance to even play a little bit.”

Martini will get a better look at the team he’ll join next season when he returns to Notre Dame’s campus this weekend with his family for the USC game. Martini communicates with his recruiter, assistant coach Scott Booker, and former Woodberry teammate Doug Randolph, but wanted to be in South Bend for the rivalry weekend.

“Every time I can get back on campus it’s a special thing,” Martini said. “My grandma is coming up with my family. Hopefully she can get to see the campus. I’m excited for her. For me, it’s just soaking in the atmosphere and being at a Notre Dame night game. I’m excited for it all.”

Joining a group of 25 recruits expected to visit campus this weekend, Martini will get a chance to meet some of his fellow commits and other Irish recruiting targets. Nyles Morgan and Drue Tranquill, the top two remaining 2014 prospects that could join Martini as inside linebackers in the class, should be in attendance for Saturday’s game.

“I’m ready to meet some future teammates and also encourage some guys to join our class,” Martini said. “It’s always a good thing developing relationships before we even get there. It’s definitely important because it makes the transition a whole lot easier.”