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Kennedy Urlacher: The Second Coming?

Written by Liam Gaudet, Senior Editor - Twitter: @LiamGaudet.IT


When evaluating Notre Dame's recruiting efforts since the beginning of Marcus Freeman's tenure with the university, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster to say the least. As fans, we've been conditioned for disappointment in the recruiting department over the last decade or so, which has come to a climax in the era of name, image and likeness. It's arguable that no position group has been hit harder than safety, specifically in the 2023 class with the loss of pledges from highly ranked players such as Peyton Bowen and Brandyn Hillman. In fact, one might argue that this is the weakest position in the program moving forward. Now, it would be extremely naïve to buy into the narrative that stars mean everything, because most fans can come up with at least a handful of three stars outside of the top 300 or so that ended up being huge additions. I'm here to tell you that Kennedy Urlacher, the 6'0 190 pound athlete from Chandler Arizona is going to be one of those players.


Photo via ON3


If you followed this recruitment at all, you would know that his name is no coincidence. Kennedy is in fact, the son of NFL legendary linebacker Brian Urlacher. Brian played 13 NFL seasons, and in that time racked over 1000 solo tackles, 41.5 sacks and eight pro bowl nods, and is now immortalized in Canton, Ohio. In his time, he was regarded as one of the fiercest tacklers to grace the gridiron - and Kennedy is looking to carry on that tradition.





Urlacher is a three star recruit, but looking beyond the rankings there is plenty to be excited about on tape. Urlacher played the majority of his snaps at strong safety, which is a desperate position of need for the Irish, but that's not all - Urlacher is classified as an athlete: someone capable of playing multiple positions at a high level. For now, let's just focus on what he brings defensively.



Photo via MaxPreps


Fearless. If I had only one word to describe the play of Kennedy Urlacher, I wouldn't have to think twice about it. Despite not being the biggest player on the field, he isn't hard to miss with the playstyle that he brings. He has all of the intangibles of a 5 star for his position, and with plenty of time for growth and workouts from Matt Balis, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him reach that potential. After watching some of his tape, Urlacher's hits almost appear to be straight out of a videogame, launching opponents with such force that will have offensive skill positions thinking twice about meeting him head on. He tackles downhill with great form and leverage to stop receivers and backs dead in their tracks. His defensive angles are something to be admired, as he almost never takes the wrong trajectory, which makes him so effective. Obviously, the level of talent at the next level will provide more of a challenge for Urlacher, but with that "hit everything" mindset, I doubt the adjustment period will take long.





Urlacher's speed and coverage ability has also made him a standout special teams player in high school, as there are examples of him blocking PATs and field goals, as well as exceptional coverage on kick returns. Speaking of coverage, he shows good instincts in both man and zone, breaking on balls and sinking deep when needed, while also honing in at full speed to make tackles from seemingly out of nowhere.


It's often easy to overlook some of the players in Notre Dame's recruiting classes who aren't ranked at the very top, but it's important to remember that these rankings aren't an exact science. Marcus Freeman has a keen eye for talent when it comes to players like Kennedy Urlacher - and after watching his tape there's no reason you shouldn't be a believer too.



 

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