Notre Dame set to host trio of 2019 linebacker targets

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Clark Lea won't have to scour the country for top linebacker prospects this week.

That's because some of those top linebacker targets will be able to meet with the Irish defensive coordinator on Notre Dame's campus.

Lea and the rest of the coaching staff will get a close look at three linebackers: Brandon Smith, Spencer Lytle and Tristan Sinclair.

Smith, who is scheduled to arrive on campus Wednesday, will come to South Bend with the most recruiting hype of the bunch. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound product of Mineral (Va.) Louisa County has been ranked as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the 2019 class by 247Sports.

He has offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, and will be making trips to Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State throughout the week.

Notre Dame offered Smith last June during a previous unofficial visit.

"Outstanding ball player," said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "He's a five-star guy. He's a terrific athlete. He has grades. Notre Dame's been all over him. Clark Lea's been recruiting him."

Both Rivals and 247Sports peg Smith as a four-star recruit. Rivals ranks him as the No. 5 weakside defensive end in the class.

Smith's height could lend to him playing defensive end in college, but he's roamed the field from the inside linebacker position in high school.

"Brandon Smith is the kind of guy who has the potential, although he's built differently, to be like Jaylon Smith," Lemming said.

When Smith signed with Notre Dame in the 2013 class, he was ranked as the No. 1 outside linebacker by both Rivals and 247Sports.

Lytle became the first of the linebacker trio to make it to South Bend when he arrived on Tuesday. His two-day campus visit is sandwiched between visits to Wisconsin and Clemson. He recently made trips to Texas and Texas A&M in March.

The 6-3, 220-pound junior received a Notre Dame offer on March 1. This offseason, Lytle transferred from one program the Irish are familiar with to another. He totaled 77 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one forced fumble at Anaheim (Calif.) Servite last fall. He has since transferred to St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif.

Notre Dame most-recently signed wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and linebacker D.J. Morgan from those two schools, respectively. Lytle's older brother, Tyler, is a quarterback at Colorado.

"He's a good athlete," Lemming said of Spencer Lytle. "He's come on strong now. He comes from an athletic family. He's a good prospect."

UCLA and California are trying to prevent the three-star recruit from leaving the state. Rivals ranks Lytle as the No. 24 outside linebacker in the 2019 class. 247Sports slates him No. 30 at the position.

Sinclair, who plans to arrive Wednesday for a two-day visit, has the most enigmatic résumé of the visitors. The 6-2, 199-pound recruit has played strong safety, running back and linebacker at Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley.

That combination of skills may make him a prime candidate for the rover spot in Notre Dame's defense. The Irish offered Sinclair on March 5 and are joined by Arizona State, Nebraska, Washington State, Vanderbilt, Illinois and others on his offer list.

"He's another good player," Lemming said. "He's a three-star guy who could play a couple positions."

247Sports slates Sinclair as a four-star recruit and the No. 20 athlete, a designation for players who could play multiple positions, in the 2019 class. Rivals ranks him as a three-star recruit but not among the top 35 outside linebackers in the class.

Sinclair visited Harvard before making his way to Notre Dame. When he returns to California, Sinclair said he will make visits to Stanford, UCLA, and USC. He has yet to receive offers from those three in-state programs.

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Four-star linebacker Brandon Smith, a 2019 recruit, is scheduled to visit Notre Dame on April 4. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)