LB Asmar Bilal commits to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The word athleticism always seems to follow Asmar Bilal. Now "Notre Dame commit'' will also accompany the linebacker recruit.

Bilal, a senior at Indianapolis Ben Davis, verbally committed to Notre Dame on Thursday. Ben Davis head coach Mike Kirschner confirmed the news after communicating with head coach Brian Kelly.

The athleticism of the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Bilal helped earn him a four-star rating from the major recruiting services. It’s an especially coveted asset for linebackers in defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s scheme.

"Notre Dame's looking for athletes to compete with Southeastern Conference teams,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “He's that kind of an athlete that can run and make plays.”

So much of an athlete that the name of sophomore Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith’s name is used in comparisons. Certainly the connections to Notre Dame and a shared home state link the two, but Bilal’s physical frame also resembles Smith’s from high school.

“He's real athletic and real long,” said 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong. “He has a frame that's very similar to Jaylon Smith's coming out of high school. It will be real interesting to follow him once he gets into Paul Longo's strength and conditioning program at Notre Dame.”

Bilal isn’t as lauded as Smith, who held a five-star rating as one of the top recruits in the 2013 class. 247Sports slates Bilal as the No. 3 inside linebacker prospect in the 2015 class and the No. 2 recruit in Indiana. Rivals ranks him as the No. 22 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 3 player in the state.

Bilal, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, chose Notre Dame over Michigan.

"Notre Dame was in his top two before the season even started for various reasons, but this is a guy that has the ability to fly around within a defense,” Wiltfong said. “With Brian VanGorder, he'll blitz you from the upper deck. This is a guy that can run and be athletic and be exciting on defense. He's not going to walk into South Bend as a finished product, but he certainly has all the tools and ability to be a really good player."

Bilal joins Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean’s Josh Barajas as the second linebacker in Notre Dame’s 2015 class. The Irish could add another linebacker next week in Te’von Coney, a four-star inside linebacker from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., when he announces his choice from among Notre Dame, Florida and Miami.

The combination of Bilal, Barajas and Coney could end up being one of the better linebacker units in the country for the current recruiting cycle.

“All those guys would complement each other really well with their different skill sets,” Wiltfong said. “With those three, when they arrive at the ball carrier, there's usually a loud thud."

Defensive recruiting picked up for the Irish this week with Bilal joining on Thursday and three-star defensive end Bo Wallace committing on Sunday. Both players had favored Notre Dame before the season started, and the product on the field in the 6-0 Irish has been a plus.

The aggressive style of VanGorder’s defense seems to be more attractive to recruits than the bland, yet effective, style used by previous defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

“No high school kid likes the read-and-react defense,” Lemming said. “They all want to make plays and go by their instincts. The way they're playing this year and the way their scheme has been this year is definitely helping."

Below are highlights of Bilal as a junior, via Hudl.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Indianapolis Ben Davis linebacker Asmar Bilal committed to Notre Dame on Thursday. (SBT Photo/TYLER JAMES)