Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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32 DECEMBER 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY DAVID MCKINNEY Notre Dame got some good news Nov. 19, when JD Bertrand — a Ri- vals250 linebacker from Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity — announced his com- mitment to the Fighting Irish. Bertrand committed to Georgia on July 15, 2017, but both sides decided to part ways, and he officially reopened his recruitment Oct. 5. Notre Dame jumped at the chance to bring the four- star on campus for a visit. Bertrand traveled to Notre Dame for the game against Pittsburgh Oct. 13 and returned for the matchup against Florida State Nov. 10. Both visits were unofficial. Notre Dame eventually ended up of- fering Bertrand a spot in its 2019 class and the Rivals250 member accepted. Rivals rates Bertrand as the No. 12 in- side linebacker and No. 247 overall player in the class of 2019. Bertrand is the 21st player to join Notre Dame's 2019 haul and the fourth linebacker, along with four-star Os- ita Ekwonu of Charlotte (N.C.) Provi- dence Day, three-star Jack Kiser of Royal Center (Ind.) Pioneer and three- star Marist Liufau of Honolulu Puna- hou. Playing multiple positions for Blessed Trinity, Bertrand has put to- gether a solid senior season. Through 12 games, he had racked up 78 total stops (37 solo), 11.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and an interception. On of- fense he has been used primarily at wide receiver, and had nine receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Bertrand said everything Notre Dame has to offer was too good for him to pass up. "Notre Dame is such a strong aca- demic and football school," Bertrand told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "It's un- matched by any other." During his two game-day visits to South Bend, Bertrand built strong re- lationships with recruiting and special teams coordinator Brian Polian plus defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Clark Lea. Those two Irish staff- ers, Bertrand said, were a huge part in his commitment to Notre Dame. "Coach Polian and Coach Lea played very significant roles in my de- cision," he noted. "They were the two coaches I dealt with the most." Bertrand also happens to have strong relationships with two of his fellow Notre Dame commits from the Atlanta area, cornerback K.J. Wal- lace of Atlanta Lovett and safety Kyle Hamilton of Atlanta Marist. The three have known each other for more than a decade, and Bertrand is looking for- ward to linking up with his old friends in South Bend. "I'm pumped to be able to play with Kyle and K.J.," Bertrand said. "I've known them for a long time." Beyond the relationships, though, Bertrand said the ultimate difference maker in his decision to become Irish is what he believes Notre Dame can do for him both on and off the field. "The biggest factor for me was the unbelievable combination between ed- ucation and football," he said. "The at- mosphere and tradition at Notre Dame is unmatched." Of course, with Notre Dame 11-0 and ranked at No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, it was a great time to join the program. Bertrand said he's loved what he's seen from Notre Dame so far this season and is thrilled for the opportunity to help the Irish build on their success next season. "It is exciting to be a part of it," he said. "The coaches were very excited." For Bertrand, the commitment to Notre Dame is the end of a long re- cruiting process. With the hectic world of recruiting behind him, Bertrand said he's looking forward to getting to South Bend as fast as possible and beginning to work with people who share his values and love for the game of football. "I'm most excited about being around like-minded guys," he ex- plained. "And for the opportunity to compete early while earning a degree from Notre Dame." During his recruiting process, Ber- trand earned offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, Wisconsin and others. Blessed Trinity was undefeated through 12 games in 2018, and was preparing to take on Covington (Ga.) Eastside (12-0) in the quarterfinals of the Georgia Class AAAA playoffs. Last season, Bertrand and Blessed Trinity defeated Hamilton and Marist 16-7 in the state champion- ship game. ✦ COMMITMENT PROFILE JD BERTRAND Georgia Linebacker Can't Say No To Notre Dame Bertrand, the No. 12 inside linebacker and No. 247 overall player in the country per Rivals, chose Notre Dame over Florida, Florida State, LSU, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee and Wisconsin. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM "The biggest factor for me was the unbelievable combination between education and football. The atmosphere and tradition at Notre Dame is unmatched." BERTRAND FILM ANALYSIS Strengths JD Bertrand is a quality all-around athlete that fits in well from a movement standpoint with Notre Dame's current starting linebackers … Shows easy change of direction skills, good lat- eral quickness and impressive tackle-to-tackle speed … Despite lacking great size, shows im- pressive strength and power when he arrives at the football … Has fast and strong hands, which allow him to disengage from blockers and get to the football … Instinctive linebacker that makes quick reads, diagnoses plays in a hurry and then immediately accelerates to the football … Com- bination of instincts and athletic skills allow him to thrive in coverage. Areas For Improvement At just 6-1 and 210 pounds, he lacks ideal length and mass for the linebacker position … Has the frame to add weight, but he will never have top-notch size for the position … Is a qual- ity athlete, but lacks any elite athletic traits. — Bryan Driskell

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