Four-star LB Te'von Coney picks Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

For Te’von Coney, a commitment to Notre Dame was more than a choice.

In the end, the four-star linebacker prospect felt the decision was more of a need.

“I think I'm the type of person that needs to go to Notre Dame to get away from home, focus more on school and football and try to reach my goals that I want to reach in life,” Coney said Thursday on a webcast hosted by ESPN in which he announced his verbal commitment to the Irish.

The 6-foot-1, 222-pound senior held a ceremony Thursday morning at his school, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High, to declare his college intentions. Coney picked Notre Dame over Florida and Miami plus a number of offers from SEC programs.

He signaled his commitment by slipping on a hat with an interlocking ND. Head coach Brian Kelly showed his approval of the announcement by tweeting, “#WeAreND.” Kelly can’t comment on recruited players until they sign or enroll with the school, but he has adopted the practice of tweeting the coded hashtag following each new commitment.

Coney said during the webcast that he solidified his decision earlier in the week through prayer.

“I sat down and talked to God,” Coney said. “I asked him, 'What's the best fit for me? What's the best school for me to go to achieve all my goals?' I slept on it. I slept (Wednesday) night on it, and I prayed again. God told me that Notre Dame was the best fit for me and I should go there."

While Coney found a fit with the Irish, he also fits perfectly into Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class. Commitment No. 21 in the class, Coney becomes the third linebacker in the group. He joins four-star outside linebackers Asmar Bilal and Josh Barajas.

With Coney projected as a Mike linebacker, Barajas at Sam linebacker and Bilal at Will linebacker, the Irish have one commit per position in defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder's scheme.

But the fit for Coney went beyond Xs and Os.

"Being able to come in and contribute early my freshman year,” Coney said on the webcast when describing his needs from a school. “Being able to communicate with the coaching staff and the players there that I'm going to be around every day. Being able to talk to other people around the school that can help me with other things outside of football. So when I say fit I mean being comfortable there and being able to go to anybody when I need help."

Coney, who plans to enroll early in January, learned how he would fit at Notre Dame with two visits. He first visited in June for Notre Dame’s Irish Invasion camp, which has now produced two ND commits, running back Josh Adams being the other. Coney returned for an official visit in September for the 31-0 win over Michigan.

Coney’s talent and Florida roots made him a high priority for recruiting coordinator Tony Alford, who offered him back in April. 247Sports slates Coney as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the 2015 class. Rivals ranks him No. 11 at the position.

“He’s a thumper," said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "He’s an outstanding inside linebacker with good instincts. I really liked Te’von when I was down there to see him. He plays the game on his feet. He makes a lot of plays, and he plays through the whistle.”

The combination of strength and athleticism should allow Coney the chance to at least play special teams early in his Notre Dame career. He will come to South Bend with established skills stopping the run and rushing the passer, but will need work on playing space and pass coverage.

Many perceived Florida as the team to beat early in Coney’s recruitment. A younger Coney likely would have agreed.

"Florida is a great school,” Coney said on the webcast. “They've always been my dream school. I've always wanted to go there since I was little. I gave them an opportunity and visited. I loved the visit and my parents also loved the visit."

But with the uncertainty facing Gators head coach Will Muschamp in a 3-3 season, Coney and his family found more stability at Notre Dame.

“My mom wanted me to go somewhere where she trusted the coaching staff,” Coney said. “They'll probably be there the next three-to-four years. Nobody's guaranteed their job, but she felt like coach Kelly would be there throughout my career at Notre Dame. So she felt like that was the place for me to go, and I also felt that way. He's a great coach. His program is on the rise. I wanted to be a part of it."

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Below are highlights of Coney's senior season via Hudl.

Notre Dame linebacker commit Te’von Coney is set to enroll early later this month. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)