Notre Dame is pushing hard to land the nation's best linebacker class, and Hilton Head (S.C.) High School star Jaylen Sneed is a big part of that. The talented linebacker is currently on campus for his official visit, but prior to arrive he dominated at the Under Armour Future 50 camp.
Sneed was named one of the top standouts of the event by Zach Goodall and Brandon Carroll of SI All-American.
"Sneed came out firing in seven-on-seven as linebackers weren't as active earlier in the day. The 6-foot-2 defender packs a lot of length into his frame, which allows him to easily get a hand on passes coming his way in coverage.
That could be seen early on as Sneed broke up two red zone passes on the first drive of seven-on-seven, and another batted ball on the drive to follow. Sneed's secondary gave up a lot of plays and scores as the action got underway, but the South Carolina native's effort was far from the problem for Team Chill's defense." - SI All-American
Notre Dame is hoping to add Sneed and California star Niuafe Tuihalamaka to a 2022 linebacker haul that already has Josh Burnham and Nolan Ziegler.
Sneed isn’t the biggest linebacker, checking in at 6-2 and 215 pounds, but his length is impressive and he has plenty of room to fill out that frame. He shows a strong lower body and the potential to add a good 10-15 more pounds, which will only enhance his power and explosiveness.
What makes him a top prospect at this point is his athleticism and upside. Sneed is an extremely explosive athlete, one with elite burst, impressive lateral quickness and good speed. Much like former Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Sneed likely won’t blow you away with an elite 40-yard dash time, but his initial burst, short-area quickness, change of direction and flexibility makes him play with exceptional speed.
Sneed has the kind of foot quickness and downhill explosiveness that should allow him to eventually develop into an impactful inside linebacker. His range, length and instincts also lend to him being an effective player in space. Sneed is also an outstanding edge rusher thanks to the aforementioned initial burst I talked about and ability to chew up a lot of ground in a hurry.
The Hilton Head star shows a good feel for the game, possessing quick reaction skills and the ability to diagnose between run and pass relatively quickly. At times he doesn’t take the best angles, but that can certainly be improved. He’s a bit of a free-lancer, which needs to be harnessed a bit, and he played defensive end as a junior, so there’s plenty of technique work needed with Sneed, but the tools are truly outstanding.
What I don’t know right now is if Sneed has the coverage instincts to play as a true rover. It’s not that I doubt that he has them, but I just haven’t seen enough of him in coverage on film to really get a feel for how well he’ll perform with that part of the game. Rover is not, however, the ideal position for him, so this doesn’t really impact his grade much. At the very least Sneed projects to be a quality zone defender as an inside linebacker, but the athleticism and length gives him the potential to eventually develop into an impact cover player at inside linebacker.
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