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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Thoros of Beer, Feb 3, 2016.
Yeah that's not a good look for SBPD matter the circumstance.
So even though we are probably good this year as well im gonna do one of my favorite things and look forward even further. In 2021 we should on offense return Book, Armstrong, Young all tight ends, and the entire offensive line. On defense things will be tougher as we will lose the defensive backfield (sans the 2nd corner position most likely, depending on who wins that job). The full DT rotation will be back, i hope we redshirt jamir jones, if so the DEnd rotation feels like it will still be decent, but its not the stength like it was. LB could still be all over the place. Talent at safety will be great, just young. Corner will remain the question mark but the bodies are there.
In 2022 we would still return 8 of the 2020 starters most likely. I dont really see many NFL defections being likely beyond the OL
I too saw Brandon Wimbush.
sounds like there's no way that Book will come back in 2021 if he has a good year this year and Kmet sounds pretty iffy as well if he explodes as expected
i would think LB would be considerably better with Simon/Lamb/JOK/Owusu/Moala all a year older with tons of experience
I don’t LB will be bad this year, not worried about that group
It’s kicker and punter that worries me
Book going pro would be insane to me. He is borderline undraftable. His upside is colt mccoy. Just doesnt have the arm nor the size. Kmet i could see
Both worry me a lot
We'll be going for it a lot of 4th down this year I'd guess
while insane, it's been reported by pretty much all the sites that it's true. Book has an irrational belief in his ability
Ow i believe he will ask for a grade. When that grade is udfa he will i think return. But thats me
Guys we are talking about a rising senior QB under Brian Kelly. Something will go horribly wrong.
He is a cocky little prick honestly, and I say this having interacted with him and talking to some of his teammates.
Good. Pretty glad to hear that about the starting QB
Agreed. Not so good watching him hit on married friends at Ruth Chris, but ill take it on game day.
If a starting QB at ND can't do some couger hunting at Ruth's Chris what's the point
Not a QB but Derrick Mayes was the GOAT
Midweek thoughts about the Notre Dame football program, its recruiting efforts and college football.
OVERLOOKED VETERANS COULD HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT IN 2019
Notre Dame has a pair of veteran players who are being overshadowed by others at their position, one on each side of the ball. But the play of these two veterans could go a long way towards Notre Dame once again competing for a playoff berth.
KHALID KAREEM, SENIOR, DEFENSIVE END: Fellow end Julian Okwara and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery got most of the attention last season, and they deserved it. Both were among the nation’s premier pass rushers at their positions a season ago.
Tillery is off to the NFL, having been picked in the first round by the Los Angeles Chargers. Okwara returns and is receiving much-deserved preseason All-American mentions in preseason magazines.
An overlooked player from last season’s defense is rising senior Khalid Kareem, who tied with Tillery for second on the defense last season with 10.5 tackles for loss. Kareem added 4.5 sacks and 37 quarterback pressures last fall.
Kareem ranks 17th among all returning Power 5 ends in quarterback pressures from last fall, and his 7.6-percent run stop rate according to Pro Football Focus ranks 13th among returning Power 5 ends with at least 200 run snaps.
Last fall was Kareem’s first as a starter, and he battled nagging injuries for much of the season, which for me makes his production even more impressive. Kareem had an outstanding spring, and if that carries into the fall, and Kareem can stay more healthy than he did last season, he could have a truly dominant season.
In fact, Kareem has the tools to not only be a big-time player for Notre Dame, but he could end up being the team’s best all-around defensive lineman this fall. If he gets even close to that, Notre Dame’s starting ends will be as good as there is in the country.
BROCK WRIGHT, JUNIOR, TIGHT END: Everyone expects junior tight end Cole Kmet to become the team’s top player at that position, and if he stays healthy that is likely to happen. Kmet showed flashes of big-time potential last season, and the now-junior could have a significant impact on the 2019 offense.
While Kmet gets most of the attention, fellow junior Brock Wright could also have a major impact on the Irish offense this upcoming season. Wright was the team’s highest ranked recruit in the 2017 class, but he’s caught just two passes during his first two seasons and has been nothing more than the third or fourth tight end in the offense.
Wright lost some weight this offseason, reshaped his body and his game took a big jump forward in the spring. During the spring the Texas native looked more like the Top 100 recruit that signed with the Irish, showing the ability to thrive in the run game, work the middle of the field and the athletic traits needed to threaten defenses down the field.
If Wright continues his spring development into the fall and starts to tap into his prep billing/potential, the Irish could have arguably the best tight end duo in the country. It could also go down as Notre Dame’s best one-two punch at the position since 2012, when the Irish built the offense around Tyler Eifertand Troy Niklas.
Breakout performances from both Kmet and Wright would also provide a major boost to the confidence level of quarterback Ian Book and would provide the ground attack with a bump as well.
CHANGING FORTUNES IN MISSOURI?
Rivals started doing rankings back with the 2002 class, and from that year all the way to the 2018 class, a span of 17 classes, Notre Dame signed just four players from the state of Missouri. From 2007 to 2018, a span of 12 classes, the Irish signed just one player from the state (Jonathan Bonner).
The Show Me State has not been good to Notre Dame for a number of reasons, but that is starting to change, and if the staff can continue making a push in the state it could have a major impact on the roster moving forward.
Notre Dame landed USA Today first-team All-Missouri running back
as part of the 2019 class. He became the first offensive player from the state to pick Notre Dame since Munir Prince back in the 2006 class. Williams made an early impact during the spring for the Irish after rushing for 2,035 yards, racking up 55 catches for 725 yards, and scoring 36 offensive touchdowns as a senior at St. Louis (Mo.) St. John Vianney.
The Irish dipped back into the state in a big way with the 2020 class, landing five-star wide receiver
from St. Louis (Mo.) DeSmet. Johnson is the first five-star wide receiver to pick Notre Dame since Michael Floydsigned with the Irish back in 2008. Johnson was a huge piece of what turned out to be an outstanding wide receiver haul for the Irish in 2020.
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6'2" | 182 LBS | WR
ST. LOUIS, MO
CLASS OF 2020
Notre Dame has already gone back into the state for 2021, landing St. Peters (Mo.) Lutheran of St. Charles defensive tackle
, the nation’s No. 81 overall recruit. Rubio has already hit the recruiting trail in hopes of adding more players for Notre Dame from his state.
Rubio is the No. 2 player in the state from his class, with St. Louis (Mo.) DeSmet cornerback
ranking No. 1. Johnson is the teammate of current Irish commit Jordan Johnson, and Rubio has already made him a priority in the class. Considering Notre Dame’s inability to land truly top-end corners in recent seasons – at least from a rankings standpoint – Johnson is a priority recruit for Notre Dame.
The 6-1, 170-pound cornerback is ranked as the No. 54 player in the entire country and the nation’s No. 4 cornerback.
Notre Dame seemed done in the state with the 2020 class, but the recent decommitment of Raytown (Mo.) High School cornerback
has put another Missouri player on the board for the Irish.
Manning was an early priority for Notre Dame, but his commitment to Oklahoma took him off the board. Now that Manning is back on the market, expect the Irish staff to go after him incredibly hard.
Considering the class is essentially done outside of one or two more defensive backs, expect Manning to receive a lot of attention.
6'0" | 180 LBS | CB
CLASS OF 2020
According to BGI recruiting insider EJ Holland, Texas A&M is the current leader for Manning, but he told Rivals Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt that he is thinking about taking an official visit to Notre Dame the weekend of Oct. 12, when the Irish take on USC. A three-star according to Rivals, Manning is ranked as a Top 50 recruit by both ESPN and 247Sports.
Landing just one of those two recruits would be important for the Irish, but landing both Manning and Johnson would completely revamp the Irish secondary, and it would make the state of Missouri one of the most important for Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts.
RANKING THE OFFENSIVE LINES
Originally my plan was to rank the offensive lines on the 2019 Notre Dame schedule, and then discuss where I felt Notre Dame stacked up in that list. My top two offensive lines are Georgia and Notre Dame, but I had a hard time picking between the two.
So instead of going with my rankings, I went ahead and just broke down the lines based on their Pro Football Focus grades from a year ago. So below is the ranking of the offensive lines on Notre Dame's 2019 schedule - including the Irish line - based on last year's PFF grades, taking into account run blocking and pass blocking grades.
The number in parenthesis beside each school is the number of returning starters.
1. Georgia (3)
2. Notre Dame (4)
3. Michigan (4)
t-4. Boston College (2)
t-4. Virginia Tech (2)
6. Stanford (2)
7. USC (2)
8. New Mexico (4)
9. Virginia (3)
10. Navy (1)
11. Bowling Green (3)
12. Duke (4)
13. Louisville (2)
TWEET OF THE WEEK
More reasons why I scratch my head at Michigan getting so much preseason love ... again.
Michigan is 1-9 outright – 2-8 ATS - vs Top 10 teams under Harbaugh. In the 5 games UM was favored, they are 0-5 ATS with 4 outright losses, including 26 and 23 point losses to Florida and Ohio St to end the 2018 season. UM is 0-4 at home vs OSU and MSU. Get both in AA this year.
9:34 AM - Jul 9, 2019
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FILM TO WATCH
Notre Dame is still trying to add to its 2020 secondary haul, which currently includes
. Despite commitments from two true corners (Bartleson, Lewis), there is a cornerback back on the board that could totally change the make up of that haul.
I talked about him earlier, but let's now take a look at the film of Raytown (Mo.) High School cornerback
This will be fun to watch on the side.
Good for wimbush. I wish they could have convinced him to stay on as a skill player if book goes down we are fucked
Yeah, he seems like a great kid, wish he would have caught on as an RB or something, but, If he is starting at UCF and likely winning 10 or more games, that's cool.
Killy using his powers for good instead of evil
In what world is Kareem overlooked?
in that he probably didnt make the si top100 cfb players whilst he may well be the best defensive player on this team (and gilman and okwara did make it in)
I could buy an argument that Kareem is underrated and Okwara is overrated on a national level. And by I could buy it, I mean that's what I actually think.
samesies, i think okwara is sexier and probably a better pro prospect but i think kareem at ND is at least his equal
QA with Chip Long...I love Long - he doesn't sugarcoat and i love the way he plays offense
Blue & Gold Illustrated: You are now going into year three and more than half your starters have only played in your system. What are your expectations at this point?
Chip Long: “We’re always reaching for higher expectations. The biggest thing you have to fight is complacency with coaches and players.
“You have to do the things that got you to the point where you are, and then go past them. We’re always fighting complacency and pushing our guys more.
“Plus, the guys are getting older and more experienced so they can retain more information. You’ve got young guys that want to play, too. There’s competition day in and day out with our guys.
“If you don’t want to compete then it’s going to be the next guy up. We’ve shown that and proven that. Last year, we made a quarterback change. It probably wasn’t the most popular move, but it was what we needed to do, and guys saw that.
“I’m usually the same person each and every day. If you meet the guidelines, you’re going to play. If you don’t, you won’t. I think kids like that. They know the standard, and they know what they have to do to get themselves ready to play.”
BGI: What are areas you want the offense to improve upon this season?
Long: “We need to get back to being able to run the ball with power like we did in the past. We want to get that solidified first, and then we want to keep being more explosive. We want to be able to push the ball downfield and attack the middle of the field.
“Last year with Ian [Book], I tried to protect him as much as I could in the first part of the season. He started getting more confidence and started going a good job. Now we need him to go to another level to be an elite guy, and he’s working towards that.
“And guys need to be there to help him get to that level and make elite plays. That’s why we are always pushing and we’re always constantly recruiting to add speed, length and size so we can be an explosive offense. When we touch the ball we’re gone, not just in the run game, but in the pass game as well.”
BGI: What are your expectations for the offensive line now with four starters returning?
Long: “I expect them to all be better and play at a high level … I expect each player to improve in some aspect of his game. If that’s not the case, then we’ll find someone else who can.
“I expect a very physical, big, powerful, moving group that’s going to play the game the way we want it to be played, similar to what it was in 2017. Now, are they going to have the star power of that group? No, but I want the mindset that group had in this one.
“I want a confident group that says the guy in front of me is going to have the longest day he’s ever had in his life. That’s the mentality I want.
“Our guys are going to work hard, and they’re going to have the mindset to be physical. I want to add the confidence that we’re going to dominate you the way we did in 2017.”
BGI: Wide receivers Chase Claypool and Chris Finke are established, but who are some young pass catchers that you expect to step up this season?
Long: “[Redshirt freshman] Joe Wilkins, for whatever reason, is always wide open. He has really good instincts, great ball skills and good toughness, and is a guy that I have full confidence in when he’s out in the game.
“He’s just a steady guy, and the game’s not too big for him. … People don’t recognize him as being as good of a player as he has a chance to be.
“[Redshirt freshman] Lawrence Keys had a great spring. He’s very explosive with very strong hands and can break a lot of tackles. He has really good instincts and is an absolute grinder who loves to work, loves to practice. He’s the same guy day in and day out.
“[Redshirt freshman] Braden Lenzy has the great speed and ability, and had a good spring. We have to get past missing time with hamstrings and things that usually happens to young wideouts. He has game-breaking speed and has done a great job transforming his body.
“[Sophomore] Kevin Austin is a great talent. Plus, he over a 3.0 GPA last semester. I am really proud of him in that aspect, and it’s going to transition to him growing up and helping him on the field. … I expect him to have a really solid year if he continues to do the things we ask him to do and does it every day.
“They might not all have 100 catches as everyone expects, there’s only one ball, but I do see all of them trending up and improving.”
BGI: Where is Michael Young heading into his junior season?
Long: “Mike brings a great deal of knowledge. He’s been in the offense a long time with me. He has great speed, a great gear. We saw that in the Wake Forest game when he took a screen 66 yards, one of our most explosive plays of the year.
“It was all a mentality with Mike about attacking the day. It’s about getting over injuries — you’ll never play this game 100 percent, being able to fight through whatever is ailing you and still being able to play at a high level.
“That defines a great player to me, and he did that. If he continues to do that he’ll be the starting X out there when we get rolling.”
BGI: The skill sets of those players is much more diverse than what you’ve had in the past. What does such a wide array of talent do for you as a play caller?
Long: “We can attack on different fronts, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. … We have an answer for whatever the defense want to play, a different type of body if we need that, or a different type of speed to get on their weaker defenders so we can exploit that.
“We can create that many more mismatches with tempo. … It gets safeties and linebackers out of the box. They have to defend the whole field now, and now that’s going to create creases where our most talented group is, which is up front.
“That’s where we can take advantage of them, and that’s what you saw in 2017 … and that’s what you saw this past year with a bunch of big runs late with Dexter [Williams].
“We started working on the perimeter, and Florida State had to get out there and honor that,. The next thing you see is Dex rolling right through there and splitting the safeties for a 50-yard touchdown.”
BGI: Where are areas where quarterback Ian Book can grow his game?
Long: “He can have a little bit more poise in the pocket defeating pressure. … He can be ore confident in the deep ball down the field, down the middle, attacking the middle of the field. A guy might be slightly covered, but he’s 6-5 and the defender is 5-8. That is not covered. Give that guy a chance with the back shoulder throw.
“He has great confidence, but to be elite you have to make some elite throws and elite decisions. I think that’s his next level. …
“He can take a few more chances — not being careless with the ball, but giving our guys an opportunity. He can have a little better pre-snap thought of where we want to attack them.
“We beat a guy on a corner route, but let’s get the ball to him so we’re not catching it and running right out of bounds. Let’s get it to him in a position where we can go score with it. That comes with getting older.”
BGI: What are your expectations for junior tight ends Cole Kmet and Brock Wright?
Long: “Cole has great size, strength and power, and is an unbelievable kid. I expect him to take another step in his development and his confidence of running after the catch.
“He’s a bull, and that was a big emphasis in the spring. I was going to punish him if he got tackled one on one. … He loves to work, loves to grind and has just been a real pleasure to coach.
“Brock made tremendous growth. Brock was already strong as an ox. I needed him to trim down and be able to stick and stay on his blocks, and maintain it and be able to play in pass protection.
“He dropped about 12 pounds, and you could see a more confident guy with great speed, a guy who knows the offense really well. You can see him anticipate things and being able to react a lot faster. I am really proud of the spring he had, and I am excited to see how he’s going to do in the fall.”
BGI: Redshirt freshman tight end Tommy Tremble showed promise in the spring. What does he bring to the offense?
Long: “Tommy gives me great speed and great athleticism. He’s probably one of our more physical players on offense. He doesn’t know what he’s doing half the time, but he’s so naturally good … He’s just a really exciting player.
“We want to put him in position to create matchups and attack a defense in ways that we haven’t had in the past.”
BGI: What did you see from the running backs this spring?
Long: “I saw a toughness, and I saw a demeanor to get better each and every day. I saw a great transition from their drill work to showing up on film, and I just saw a more confident group.
“We saw a physicalness in pass protection that I haven’t seen in a long time. I just saw a daily grind to improve that I really, really liked.”
We don't have room. We have enough rb
okwara #10, troy pride # 37
Since the early 2000s, I’ve spotlighted the biggest Freaks in college football around this time of year. The premise: Showcase guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day.
Several defensive linemen have earned the No. 1 spot, from SMU’s Margus Hunt to Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney or last year’s top guy, Michigan’s Rashan Gary. There have been running backs (Penn State’s Saquon Barkley), super-sized DBs (USC’s Taylor Mays) and powerhouse fullbacks (West Virginia’s Owen Schmitt).
The Freaks list is compiled with the help of many coaches, players and sports information directors around the nation. This is the complete list for 2019, and we’ll start with No. 1.
Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs (Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
1. Tristan Wirfs, Iowa, offensive tackle
Last year, the Hawkeyes had one of the biggest freaks in college football in tight end Noah Fant. This year they have the biggest, most powerful Freak of them all. The 6-5, 320-pound Wirfs smashed Brandon Scherff’s (Freaks Class of 2014) school record in the power clean by pumping out four reps at 450 pounds. And keep in mind Wirfs only turned 20 in January. As colleague Scott Dochterman pointed out in this excellent piece on Wirfs’ Herculean effort, Scherff was entering his fifth year in the Iowa program. Two seasons ago, in 2017, Wirfs became the first true freshman to start at tackle in Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa tenure.
ESPN College Football
Just a light 450 for Tristan Wirfs (via @HawkeyeFootball)
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The former state champion wrestler also vertical jumped 35 inches this offseason, which would be the second-highest jump by an O-lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine in the past seven years. On top of that, earlier this week, Wirfs set a personal record in the broad jump, going 9-5 feet.
2. Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma, defensive tackle
The Canadian import who grew up playing soccer, basketball and volleyball moves up one spot from last year. He’s down to 305 pounds from 330, but he bench presses 500 pounds and squats 800. He cleans 405. The most impressive number of all is that he clocked a 4.76 in the 40. The fastest 300-pounder at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine — 303-pound Quinnen Williams — ran a 4.83, which is remarkable.
Last year, Gallimore had a solid year with 50 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, three sacks and two forced fumbles. Sooners fans are hoping Gallimore can take a big step forward as OU transitions to Alex Grinch’s new scheme.
3. James Smith-Williams, N.C. State, defensive line
No player on this entire list has had the type of transformation that Smith-Williams has had. He arrived five years ago weighing a spindly 196 pounds. Now he’s a hulking 265. He benches 420, doing 27 reps at 225. He squats 620 and cleans 374. Smith-Williams vertical jumps 40 inches and has clocked a 4.43 in his pro agility time. Earlier this week, he ran an electronically timed 40 at 4.58. The hand time was 4.52.
Smith-Williams is one of the most respected players in the Wolfpack program. He’s already graduated, interned two years with IBM and has a job once football is over.
Dantonio Burnett, State’s strength coach, says of Smith-Williams, “He has learned how to translate the athletic development (weight training) over to the field. This was the same thing we saw with those other four D-linemen that got drafted. Once they figured it out and put it all together, they became really good players. He’s taken the blueprint that Bradley, BJ (Hill), Justin (Jones) and (Kentavius) Street put into place and has ran with it. He’s always getting the young guys together to do extra work. He’s taken on the leadership role and he’s definitely primed for a big year.”
(Courtesy N.C. State)
4. Isaiah Simmons, Clemson, linebacker
The Tigers D-line was loaded with Freaks last year — and it still is — but the biggest freak in the program is their 6-4, 230-pound linebacker. Simmons is a sky-walker. He vertical jumps 40 inches and broad jumps 11-0. He routinely jumps onto a 52-inch box for single-response jump work. He also has run a sub-4.4 40 this off-season.
1 step...61 inches
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“He had everything in place to be an NCAA champion jumper if that was his primary event,” Tigers track coach Mark Elliott told colleague Grace Raynor. “From a coaching side … if you have an athlete like that on your track team and he’s a jumper, you can only think about how good the person could be. Just the speed that he has and for the size (he is), personally, was impressive.
“He has all the intangibles in everything and the athletic ability that could be successful in our event, too. That’s why we took the time to work him in with our group.”
On the football field, Simmons also makes a ton of plays. In 2018, he had a team-best 97 tackles (9.5 for loss), seven pass breakups, three forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and one interception.
5. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin, running back
This is probably the most gifted of all the star running backs who have come through the Badgers program in the past two decades. The New Jersey product has a chance to surpass Donnel Pumphrey’s FBS rushing record of 6,405 yards.
In his first two seasons in the Big Ten, Taylor has 4,171 rushing yards. The 5-11, 220-pound Taylor— he has added 10 pounds lean mass since coming to program — ran a 4.3 40 this offseason. His back squat improved 100 pounds, up to 605. He cleans 350 and vertical jumps 37.5 inches.
6. Jayson Oweh, Penn State, defensive end
This is the fastest big man in the sport. The 6-5, 256-pound redshirt freshman was clocked in the 40 at a stunning 4.33 40. And if you think that blistering time seems sketchy, just remember how well all of those other Nittany Lions in the Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, Troy Apke group backed up their eye-popping numbers at the NFL Combine the next year.
Oweh’s body fat has been measured at 4.9 percent. He vertical jumps 36.5 inches and broad jumps 10-7. His pro agility time is 4.46, he benches 380 and he cleans 365.
Penn State’s Jayson Oweh (Christopher Knight / Associated Press)
7. Micah Parsons, Penn State, linebacker
A guy who is almost 260 pounds running a 4.33 is unheard of, and yet there are some folks inside the Nittany Lions program convinced that Micah Parsons is actually an even bigger Freak than Oweh.
The 6-3, 245-pound sophomore is a tenth of a second slower in the 40 at 4.43. Parsons is quicker in the pro agility than Oweh at 4.24. He benches 350, cleans 355 and squats 575.
Parsons might be the most gifted defensive player in the Big Ten. “From a football talent and pure athletic standout, he is a generational type talent,” says one Penn State staffer. “In that regard, he reminds me of Saquon.”
Parsons led the team in tackles despite starting only one game as he continued to learn the Penn State system and become more assignment sound. Don’t be shocked if he emerges as an All-American type talent this year.
8. Sewo Olonilua, TCU, running back
The Horned Frogs have three Freaks on this list, but I’m going with the big running back as their top guy. In April Olonilua had a workout for pro scouts and clocked a 4.47 while weighing 238 pounds. That’s really moving, but consider these numbers: He squats 770 pounds and can do 705 for a double. He benches 470 and cleans 475. In addition, he vertical jumps 40 inches.
705 x 2 ....
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The MVP of the Cheez-It Bowl, after he ran for 194 yards in TCU’s victory against Cal, was arrested on a felony drug charge in May not long after earning his degree in 3 1/2 years.
9. Marcelino Ball, Indiana, defensive back
The 20-year-old younger brother of former Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball has emerged as an elite safety for the Hoosiers. Ball had 59 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and one INT in 2018. The 6-0, 220-pound junior has a 365-pound power clean and 405-pound bench press max. But he gets a Top-10 spot here because of his wheels. Ball has been tracked on the Hoosiers’ GPS system topping out at 22.74 mph and has been electronically timed at 4.41 in the 40.
10. Julian Okwara, Notre Dame, defensive end
The Irish have some terrific edge rushers, and the senior from North Carolina is one of the better players in the country. In 2018, he made 37 tackles, 11.5 for loss with seven sacks and 21 QB hurries. The 6-5, 241-pound younger brother of NFL pass rusher Romeo Okwara moved to United States from Nigeria as a third-grader. The younger Okwara’s speed is why he cracked the top 10 this year. Notre Dame has clocked his top speed at 21 mph — a time you’d expect from a speedy wideout but not from a 6-5 pass rusher.
11. Daniel Faalele, Minnesota, offensive tackle
The humongous sophomore from Australia comes it at 6-9, 400 pounds. He has 275 pounds of lean mass, which is more lean mass than most football players weigh — including most of the guys he’s tasked with blocking. Faalele bench pressed 391 pounds this offseason. He hang cleans 375 and squats 570, but it’s his movement at that size that is eye-opening stuff. He vertical jumps 29 inches, who for someone 300 pounds would be really good. For someone 400 pounds … well, we’ll get to that in a minute. He broad jumped 8-7. Same deal as it relates to what an athletic 300-pound NFL prospect would do.
For more context, consider this: Faalale’s vertical jump would have tied for 14th best among the 57 offensive linemen at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
Now consider this: Dontari Poe was one of the all-time Combine freaks after he ran a 4.98 40 while weighing in at 346 pounds. He vertical jumped 29.5 inches and broad jumped 8-9. Faalele is more than 50 pounds heavier, and his vertical is just a half-inch less and he’s two inches behind on the broad jump. Trent Brown, who just signed a $66 million contract with the Raiders after starting at left tackle for the Super Bowl-winning Patriots, trimmed down to 355 on his 6-8 1/2 frame for the Combine had a 28-inch vertical and did 8-10 in the broad.
Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele (Scott Grau / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
12. Anthony Schwartz, Auburn, wide receiver
The fastest man in college football, Schwartz finished his high school career in Florida owning the No. 4, No. 6, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 13 100-meter clockings in the history of American high school track that included a wind-legal time of 10.09. Earlier this year, he clocked a 10.21 at the SEC Outdoor Championships. He had a 60-meter time at an event at Clemson of 6.59.
On the football field, he also proved to be a dangerous weapon for Gus Malzahn, catching 22 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns and he rushed 211 on 27 attempts with five touchdowns. His seven TDs were second among all SEC freshmen.
13. Jeff Gladney, TCU, cornerback
The top cover man in the Big 12, Gladney had the lowest passer rating allowed (46.9), according to PFF and had a team-high 13 pass breakups, which placed second in the Big 12. The 185-pound Gladney isn’t just extremely fast — he ran a 4.34 in the 40 this offseason — but he’s insanely strong for his size. According to the Horned Frogs staff, he squats 620 pounds, benches 400 and cleans 400.
14. Kyler Gordon, Washington, cornerback
Jimmy Lake has produced a boat-load of big-time DBs since coming to UDub, so when he calls a guy the most athletic defensive back he’s had, that’s a mouthful. Meet the Huskies’ next stud cover man. Gordon still needs to hone his technique and his attention to detail and deliver in games, but this kid has a chance to be very special.
The 6-0, 195-pound redshirt freshman, who has a background in dance, ballet and kung fu, is a former member of the Seattle Storm’s hip hop dance troupe at age 9. This spring he had the top vertical jump on the team at 42.5 — four more inches than the next best leap. He took second in the 3-cone drill (6.52 seconds) and in pro agility drill (3.87 seconds), which would have been No. 1 at this year’s NFL combine among DBs. He also broad jumped 10-5.
“He’s like Gumby,” Lake says. “He’s so flexible, and the way he can jump and run. He’s definitely got some freakish ability.
15. Jalen Virgil, Appalachian State, wide receiver
A legit track guy who is a repeat honoree on the Freaks list. The 6-1, 210-pound junior ran a non-wind-aided 10.30 to finish runner-up in the 100m at the 2019 Sun Belt Outdoor Championships. That explosiveness is also reflected in his jumping ability. He verticals 40.5 inches and broad jumped 10-11 this off-season. He’s also really powerful, benching 405 — almost double his body weight. Virgil’s been a big-play guy for App State, catching 37 passes for 602 yards in his first two seasons in the program.
16. AJ Dillon, Boston College, running back
The former ACC Rookie of the Year has carried the Eagles offense in his first two seasons in Chestnut Hill. He’s rushed for 2,700 yards and 24 TDs. The 6-0, 250-pound junior has a 40-inch vertical and has run an electronic timed 4.4 40 and is primed for an even bigger 2019. He weighs 251 pounds but only has 5.1 percent body fat.
Boston College’s AJ Dillon (Melina Myers / USA TODAY Sports)
17. Rondale Moore, Purdue, wide receiver-kick returner
Last year, he took the Big Ten by storm and provided a huge boost to the Boilers’ resurgence. He was third in the country with 13 plays of 30 yards or longer. The 5-8 Moore earned his Freak status last summer before ever playing a game at Purdue when he squatted 600 pounds despite weighing only 174 pounds. Moore has added about 10 pounds this off-season, according to Purdue strength coach Justin Lovett, who describes the sophomore as a rare talent.
“We wear Catapult (Athlete GPS Tech) like most teams. What we found is that Rondale will hit a minimum of 21 mph every time he steps foot on the field, regardless of designed practice tempo,” Lovett says. “Rondale also routinely doubles the volume of the next closest player. This means he is running faster than everyone else while doubling up on reps. He is full speed all the time. His practice load would be higher than most game loads we typically see. His game loads blew us away when we saw them for the first time. We have been forced to keep a pitch count on him so to speak just to keep him within acceptable practice and training volume ranges.”
How special is Moore?
“I was in Denver with the Broncos, then at UGA with Todd Gurley, two of our assistant strength coaches spent time in NFL and got Super Bowl rings,” Lovett says. “Collectively, we had NEVER seen ANYONE like Rondale from an athleticism standpoint before he showed up! When we asked to measure his height on his official visit he said, ‘How tall is fast?’ I figured right then that we might be in for a ride!”
18. Henry Ruggs, Alabama, wide receiver
The Tide has the best receiving corps in the country, but much of the spotlight has gone to the great Jerry Jeudy. Ruggs is one of several other legit standouts. None of them have the straight-up speed that Ruggs has. The 6-0, 190-pounder, who made 46 catches for 741 yards and 11 scores as a sophomore, had jaws on the floor at the Tide’s junior day when for NFL scouts who had him in the 4.2s in the 40, according to sources.
Alabama’s Henry Ruggs (Marvin Gentry / USA TODAY Sports)
19. Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne, safety
Never heard of the Division II school in Hickory, N.C.? NFL scouts have, and Dugger is generating lots of buzz in those circles. The 6-2, 217-pounder is a late bloomer from Atlanta with big-time athleticism. Dugger has run a verified 4.41 40 for scouts. Even more impressively, he’s vertical jumped 40 inches and broad jumped 11 feet. He also did 20 reps on the bench of 225 this offseason and timed 6.7 in the 3-cone drill, which would have been the second quickest time among safeties at the NFL Combine in 2019.
His on-field stats last year: 76 tackles, three INTs, three fumble recoveries and 13 passes defensed.
20. Sadarius Hutcherson, South Carolina, offensive line
The fourth-year junior has emerged as a quality lineman and one of the strongest guys in the SEC. The 320-pounder benches more than 500 pounds, squats 650 and has a very impressive vertical jump of 31.5 inches.
21. Jalen Reagor, TCU, wide receiver
Arguably the most underrated player in the Big 12, Reagor put up gaudy numbers in 2018 despite the shaky Horned Frogs QB situation — only the two Kansas schools had a lower QB rating in the Big 12. Still, Reagor hauled in 72 passes for 1061 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the conference in percentage of his team’s receptions at 30.1 (72-of-239). The 5-11, 195-pound junior clocked a blazing 4.29 40, and his power numbers are also impressive: a 620-pound squat, a 380-pound bench and a 380-pound clean.
22. Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA, defensive end
The younger brother of former Bruin defensive lineman Owa Odighizuwa (now with the New York Giants) came to Westwood as a three-time state wrestling champ in Oregon. The younger Odighizuwa had a solid sophomore season adjusting to a new system, finishing second on the team with three sacks to go with six TFLs. Word is he’s made some big strides this off-season. The 6-2, 282-pounder is pound-for-pound arguably the most powerful D-linemen on the West Coast and maybe in college football. He squats 717 pounds, benches more than 420, vertical jumps 32 inches, has 15 percent body fat and has been clocked at running faster than 20 MPH on the GPS tracking system. His three-hop jump is 33 feet. Anything beyond 30 feet is considered elite, according to strength coaches.
23. LeVante Bellamy, Western Michigan, running back
Coming off a breakout junior season when he ran for 1,228 yards and caught 30 passes, the 5-9, 190-pounder then did some amazing things in the Broncos workout program too. Among them: He vertical jumped 41.5 inches, broad jumped 10-4 and ran a laser-timed 4.28 40.
24. Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn, offensive tackle
The native of Delta State, Nigeria, has blossomed into quite a player who is set to become a three-year starter at left tackle. The 6-7, 310 pounder, who also is a really good swimmer, bench presses 415 pounds and squats 560. More impressively, he clocked a 4.95 40 this off-season and vertical jumped 32 inches.
“He’s a great testament to taking his development seriously,” says Auburn strength coach Ryan Russell. “He came in at 260 and is consistently 310-315 now without losing speed, agility or capability. He has progressed every year.”
Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanogho (Rod van Biberstein / Getty Images)
25. Levonta Taylor, Florida State, cornerback
The former five-star recruit vertical jumped 40.5 inches this offseason and timed a 3.96 in the shuttle. The 5-10, 190-pounder also is very strong, especially for his size, having done 385 on the bench and 555 on the squat. Last season, he battled through injuries to start eight games. In 2017, Taylor led all Power 5 cornerbacks with an average of 30.6 snaps in coverage per reception allowed, according to Pro Football Focus, and also ranked first among ACC cornerbacks with a passer rating of 26.1 when targeted in coverage.
26. Kenneth Ruff, Syracuse, defensive tackle
The South Florida native is a former high school linebacker who is now one of the fastest 300-pounders in college football. He clocked a 4.78 40 at 308 pounds this season, according to the Syracuse strength staff. Ruff also bench pressed 415 and did 28 reps of 225 to go with a 595 squat. On the season in 2018, he had 19 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, two sacks and also ran back two kickoffs for 41 yards.
Colorado’s Laviska Shenault (Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)
27. Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado, wide receiver
About a year ago at this time, then-CU head coach Mike MacIntyre shared a secret about the guy he knew was gonna be the breakout player in the Pac-12 in 2018. He just didn’t want it out until after the season started. Boy, was he right. Shenault caught 11 passes for 211 yards and a TD in a win vs. Colorado State in the opener, and until a midseason foot injury, the big Texan was the most dominant player in the league.
“He’s a total freak,” MacIntyre said of the 6-2, 225-pounder. MacIntyre said Shenault has great hands and was going to play every receiver position for Colorado while also lining up in the backfield, at Wildcat QB, just about everywhere you could imagine.
“I’ve never had anything like him,” MacIntyre said. “He’s that good. I’m tellin’ ya. He’s ridiculous.”
Even with him hobbled for much of the second half of the season, Shenault still caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards and six TDs and ran for 115 more yards and had five touchdowns on the ground.
28. Garrett Marino, UAB, defensive line
The 290-pounder has the rare double of making the Freaks list and having been a Piesman Award finalist for long fumble recovery dash for a touchdown.
A redshirt senior, Marino is a two-time All-Conference USA Honorable Mention selection and was the first player to sign when the program was reinstated. He benches more than 500 pounds, squats more than 600 and clocked a 4.7 40 according to the UAB staff this offseason.
“Garrett is the Alpha Male in the weight room,” said UAB strength coach Lyle Henley, a guy who has worked at Louisiana Tech and Alabama. “He is the strongest athlete I’ve worked with in 23 years.”
29. Jabari Zuniga, Florida, defensive line
Maybe the most freakish thing about the 6-4, 265-pound redshirt senior is that he’s only got 7.5 percent body fat. He’s also super strong benching 460 and does 225 pounds for 30 reps. HIs 7.03 time in the 3-cone drill would have tied for second-fastest among all D-linemen at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. On the field, Zuniga is coming off his best season at UF. He finished second on the team with 11.0 TFLs, 6.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries.
30. Kary Vincent, LSU, defensive back
The son of the the late Kary Vincent Sr., a former sixth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints, had a nice sophomore year for “DBU,” starting seven games and making 40 tackles. But it’s the former four-star recruit from Texas’ work on the track that earned him a spot here. The 5-10, 185-pounder ran a blazing 10.07 100-meter dash (it was a wind-aided time) at the 2019 LSU Invitational. He also ran the lead leg of the Tigers’ 4×100 meter relay that clocked the 14th fastest time in NCAA history with a 38.37 at the NCAA Championships and ran the lead leg of SEC, winning 4×100 meter relay that clocked a time of 38.85.
31. Julius Welschof, Michigan, defensive end
The former champion moguls skier from Germany who first impressed European football scout Brandon Collier with videos of a then-6-6, 220-pound Welschof doing backflips on his skis, is now 6-6, 275. Word is he broad jumped 10-7, and, according to Collier, can still tight-rope backward across a river, do backflips and walk on his hands for 50 yards.
The redshirt freshman started to turn some heads on the football field this spring. He’s still really raw, but defensive coordinator Don Brown said he’s close to being ready, adding that Welschof’s freakish athleticism “is starting to translate. The thing he’s starting to understand is that there’s a sense of violence in the game of football that he’s now starting to figure out.”
32. Ashtyn Davis, Cal, safety
The hard-hitting 6-1, 200-pound DB has been able to pack on 15 pounds after he didn’t run track this off-season after exhausting his eligibility in that spot. Davis was a first-team All-American hurdler who won the Pac-12 110 title by clocking a 13.50 and also took third in the 60m hurdles at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championship with a time of 7.63. The former walk-on has never run a 40 but is expected to run in the 4.3s when he does.
Cal’s Ashtyn Davis (John Hefti / USA TODAY Sports)
33. Jordan Fehr, Appalachian State, inside linebacker
The Mountaineers beat out Harvard, among others, to land Fehr and boy, has that worked out well for them. He was one of the driving forces behind the nation’s No. 4 defense last season, making first-team All-Sun Belt after starting 13 games and posting 86 tackles and 5.5 sacks. The 6-2, 230-pounder turns heads in App State’s offseason program too, clocking a 4.45 40 and vertical jumping 40.5 inches. He also benched 415.
34. C.J. Henderson, Florida, cornerback
The Miami native is one of the top corners in the country and made the 2018 Coaches’ All-SEC second team after 38 tackles, five TFLs, three sacks, two interceptions, a team-high seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles. The 6-1, 193-pounder has just 4.3 percent body fat but is one powerful dude. He benches 380 and did 16 reps of 225 this offseason to go with a 545-pound squat, a 40.5-inch vertical and 10-4 in the broad jump.
35. Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech, cornerback
An honorable mention selection for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award, Farley came off a torn ACL to start 12 games, had 36 tackles, nine passes defensed and two INTs. Expect the converted wideout to continue to emerge as a standout for the Hokies. The 6-2 Farley, who came to Blacksburg around 170 pounds, is now 202 pounds and runs the 40 in the 4.35-4.40 range. As a high school junior, he finished second in the state in the 100 meters with a 10.77. He enrolled early, so he didn’t get to run track as a senior, but his wheels have only gotten faster since coming to Tech.
36. Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA, defensive end
The massive Texan at 6-4 330 is the most explosive and talented of a gifted crop of young Bruin D-linemen. Ogbonnia (21 tackles as a true freshman last season) is a track and field standout in the discus and shot put. He won the U-20 national title in the shot last month with a throw of 70-3.5 and got the bronze in the discus with a throw of 186-8.
UCLA’s Otito Ogbonnia (Robert Hanashiro and Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports)
37. Troy Pride, Notre Dame, cornerback
The South Carolina product, who had 45 tackles, a pair of interceptions and nine pass break-ups in 2018, doubles as a track star for the Irish. Before coming to South Bend, he was a two-time state champion in the 400m dash and state champion in the 200m dash and 100m dash. Last February at the 2018 ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships he ran a personal-best 6.73 seconds in the 60-meter dash. His 10.50 100 time is one of the fastest in school history. This offseason he clocked a 4.32 40, according to teammate Braden Lenzy.
38. Myles Hartsfield, Ole Miss, defensive back
He came to Oxford as a former high school All-American triple jumper, and the 5-11, 212-pound senior continues to wow folks with his athleticism. Hartsfield, who made 41 tackles and broke up seven passes last season, broad jumped 11 feet this off-season to go with a 39-inch vertical and a 4.46 40. He also squats 524 pounds and cleans 335.
Ole Miss’ Myles Hartfield (Austin McAfee / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
39. James Wiggins, Cincinnati, safety
The one-time Miami commit is a holdover from last year’s Freaks list. He also is one of a number of Bearcats who could have merited a spot here along with QB Desmond Ridder, who runs an electronically timed 4.58 40; super-quick WR Rashad Medaris or 29-year-old former pro hockey player Morgan James, who vertical jumps 30.5 inches despite weighing 325. Wiggins, though, is the call. He didn’t run quite as fast as last season, going from a 4.40 to a 4.44 electronic, but that’s still very fast. He’s also ridiculously strong for being only 205 pounds, squatting 725 and benching 225 for 18 reps. Better still, he had four game-winning interceptions for the Bearcats in a breakthrough 2018 season.
40. Miles Pate, Western Kentucky, offensive tackle
Similar to former Western Kentucky standout Forrest Lamp, Pate plays tackle but projects as an interior lineman at the next level. The 6-2, 314-pounder will be a three-year starter thanks to his terrific agility. He has a 31.5-inch vertical. His 4.50 short shuttle would have tied for second-best among O-linemen at this year’s NFL Combine. His 1.77 10-yard split also would have been one of the better times in the position group. WKU strength coach Jason Veltkamp says Pate moves like 290-pound Patriots lineman Joe Thuney (whom Veltkamp coached at N.C. State), but it’s even more freakish when you account for the fact that Pate is 314.
Iowa State’s Will McDonald (Iowa State Athletics)
41. Will McDonald, Iowa State, linebacker
One of the more coveted prospects Matt Campbell has brought to Ames, the 6-4, 230-pound Wisconsin native has a 6-9 wingspan and a 35-inch vertical jump. The redshirt freshman is expected to be Iowa State’s starting Sam linebacker. He actually played in four games last year as a defensive end before getting a redshirt. In his first career snap vs. TCU, he got up the middle to sack the QB and forced a fumble that led to a touchdown.
In high school, he was all-state in football and basketball, where he averaged 18.3 points and 12.8 rebounds. He actually never played football until his junior year of high school. In track, he won the state discus title with a throw of 179-9 and was third in the high jump with a leap of 6-4. He won the discus while doing it in a pair Chuck Taylors no less.
42. John Molchon, Boise State, offensive guard
He made All-Mountain West first team in 2018 as a left guard for the Broncos. The 6-5, 317-pound fifth-year senior hang cleans 425 and power cleans 365 for two reps. His vertical jump is 27.5 inches.
“John is an explosive athlete that stops all activity in the room when he maxes because everybody wants to watch him,” says Broncos strength coach Jeff Pitman. “Not only does he lift heavy weight with ease, but he lifts his team’s energy level when he is in the room.”
43. Simon Stepaniak, Indiana, offensive guard
The fifth-year senior is one of the strongest men in college football. The 6-4, 322-pound right guard bench presses 515 pounds, and his hang clean max is 410 pounds. He has done 41 reps on the 225-pound bench. Last season he started 12 games for Indiana.
44. Spencer Brown, UAB, running back
As a true sophomore, Brown ran for 1,227 yards and had a school-record 17 touchdowns — and did all of that on an injured foot that left him at only 60-70 percent the entire season, according to the staff. He is 100 percent now and enters his junior year 261 yards shy of becoming the Blazers’ all-time leading rusher. Brown squats 600 pounds, power cleans 385 and has run a 4.52 40-yard dash.
UAB’s Spencer Brown (John Glaser / USA TODAY Sports)
45: Gage Cervenka, Clemson, offensive line
A converted defensive tackle, Cervenka played center and right guard, starting eight games for the national champs in 2018. The 6-3 1/2, 330-pound grad student repped 225 43 times on the bench this off-season and maxed 475. He squats 680 and power cleaned 370. Before coming to Clemson, he dominated the South Carolina high school wrestling scene, going 199-1 in his four-year career with his lone defeat coming in his freshman year. Cervenka is the only four-time state heavyweight champion in South Carolina history.
46. Roger Cray, Western Kentucky, defensive back
Pound-for-pound, this former two-star recruit is one of the strongest guys on this list. The 5-8, 170-pound junior will be a three-year starter, and his athleticism is a huge reason why. Cray has a 41-inch vertical and 10-5 broad jump to go with a 300-pound clean, 315-pound bench and 265-pound jerk.
Western Kentucky’s Roger Cray (Jasen Vinlove / USA TODAY Sports)
47: Kylin Hill, Mississippi State, running back
The junior had a terrific season in his first year in Joe Moorhead’s system, rushing for 734 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and also catching 22 passes despite being hobbled with a lower-body injury later in the season. The 5-10, 212-pounder has tremendous strength, bench pressing 400 pounds and squatting 600. He also vertical jumps 35 inches.
48: Baylor Cupp, Texas A&M, tight end
Jimbo Fisher’s had a good run of tight ends, and this early-enrollee five-star freshman figures to be the next one. Fisher gushed about Cupp’s athleticism when I spoke to the Aggies coach right after he signed the towering tight end. “Cupp is 6-6, 245 pounds, runs in the 4.6s, maybe high 4.5s,” he says. “He can bend, run, has power. In the state track meet as a junior, he ran 22.4 (200 meters) electronic and then turned around and threw the shot 52 feet.”
Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill (Douglas DeFelice / USA TODAY Sports)
49. Otto Zaccardo, Syracuse, running back
One of the Orange’s top coverage guys on their outstanding special teams units, the 5-11, 207-pound walk-on is a powerful dude, squatting 615 pounds and benching 355. He also does 225 for 28 reps and hang cleans 320. Zaccardo is pretty fast too, clocking a 4.51 40 this offseason.
50. Antwan Davis, Ball State, wide receiver
The 5-11, 200-pound wideout squats 2.5 times his body weight, power cleans 340 pounds, bench presses 365 pounds and broad jumps 10 feet. Davis missed most of 2018 with a broken foot. He started six games in 2017 and had 17 receptions.
(Photo illustration: The Athletic)
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Loy's Latest on Recruiting
Notre Dame has already secured 17 commitments from the class of 2020 and currently has the No. 5 ranked class according to the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings. The Fighting Irish secured a pledge from its top receiver target in Jordan Johnson, its No. 1 running back recruit in Chris Tyree, it’s top guy at offensive tackle in Tosh Baker, the No. 1 tight end in Michael Mayer and many other big-time talents from this loaded group.
So, what’s next?
Let’s look at where things stand on the board.
Buford (Ga.) Lanier high school four-star outside linebacker / defensive end Phillip Webb is the top ranked target on the board per the 247Sports Composite, but not on Notre Dame’s actual board. The staff likes him, but isn’t pushing hard for him at this point, which is why he didn’t take an offseason official visit to South Bend. The Fighting Irish want to see more out of him this fall and may host him early in the 2019 season. However, even that isn’t a definite. Despite his lofty ranking as the No. 40 overall player in the country, the staff isn’t staying patient and it’s unlikely, at this time, that they push for him. There are more pressing needs in the class.
The true top target on the board is Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe Catholic four-star safety Lathan Ransom, who will be announcing his commitment in four days on July 16, which is his 17th birthday. The 6-1, 195-pounder is an elite defensive back and one very coveted by defensive coordinator Clark Lea and safeties coach Terry Joseph. However, Ransom is a lock to Ohio State, right? The 247Sports Crystal Ball has him ending up there and all 16 picks are in agreement. Well, don’t tell the Notre Dame staff that. They haven’t given up and still believe they are making positive headway with him during their conversations. As of today, it seems neither Notre Dame or Ohio State have received any indication that he’s committing to one of their respective programs. Sure, that may not truly be the case, but that’s what my sources have said. The Irish landing him would send shockwaves across the country.
Kansas City (Mo.) Raytown four-star cornerback Dontae Manning returns to the board following his de-commitment from Oklahoma. However, don’t get too excited Notre Dame fans. The Irish like him a great deal, but couldn’t get him on campus this offseason and despite having a visit set, the 6-0, 185-pounder cancelled to return to Norman and eventually commit to the Sooners. That wasn’t something that had Notre Dame all that thrilled. The Irish are working on it and will likely make room if he wants to come, but right now it’s Texas A&M that looks like the team to beat. In fact, at the Hall of Fame Academy earlier this week, Manning didn’t even mention Notre Dame as a school he is considering when he opened up about the process with 247Sports analyst Bill Greene. Texas A&M, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State and Auburn were all mentioned.
Lufkin (Texas) high school four-star safety Jerrin Thompson remains on the board and Notre Dame is considering bringing him in for an official visit this fall. The 6-1, 185-pounder has been high on the Fighting Irish for a long time, but the staff has continued to take a wait-and-see approach with him. Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, TCU and others continue to push harder, but if Notre Dame kicks things up a notch, it seems they’d be pretty tough to beat.
Highland Springs (Va.) high school four-star safety Malcolm Greene is another that remains on the Fighting Irish target board. The 5-10, 180-pounder was the recruit that running back commit Chris Tyree said that he’d be working on to get in this class. They are good friends and talk regularly. However, there hasn’t been any movement on that front. Greene says he’s considering an official visit to Notre Dame and that he “loves” the school. He added that he doesn’t want to make a decision before visiting South Bend. That’s a good sign, but it’s far from a slam dunk that he gets on campus. Michigan, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke and Clemson are all under consideration as well.
The Colony (Texas) high school four-star safety Christian Gonzaleztook an official visit to Notre Dame and he remains on the board. The staff really likes his game and believes he has difference-maker potential at the next level. However, the staff questions how great of a fit he’ll be at Notre Dame and in the locker room. He’s not a bad kid by any stretch. That’s not the issue. It’s about how quiet he is, which is the opposite of the other safeties in South Bend, and his ability to communicate with teammates and coaches. There are multiple factors in play here where I don’t see him as a legitimate contender to end up in Notre Dame’s class. I like Alabama as of today, as long as the Crimson Tide push. Colorado, Ole Miss, Arizona State and others are in the mix as well.
Delran (N.J.) high school four-star safety RJ Moten is going to announce his decision in two weeks. Michigan is the favorite on the 247Sports Crystal Ball and I believe the Wolverines will land him. Despite the 6-0, 200-pounder listing the Fighting Irish as a finalist, without a visit to South Bend taking place before his decision, Notre Dame won’t land him. That’s not how they operate.
Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal three-star safety Elijah Gaines is still on the board, but there hasn’t been much traction on this one. Notre Dame is still working on it and it’s very possible he takes an official visit in the fall, but nothing is locked in quite yet. Michigan, Penn State and Virginia are also involved here, but it seems this one will be dragging out much longer than the recruitment of his former teammate and Notre Dame freshman Litchfield Ajavon.
Despite “only” being a three-star recruit, Notre Dame loves the upside and potential of Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty safety Ramon Henderson. The 6-2, 183-pounder with big-time speed and athleticism is being recruited heavily by special teams coordinator Brian Polian and defensive coordinator Clark Lea. The staff will host him for an official visit this fall and believes he is a perfect fit on campus as a student-athlete. The staff already thinks it has a slight edge and he hasn’t been to campus yet. Watch out for Oklahoma and UCLA here as well, but Notre Dame should have some optimism here, no doubt.
and then there were two #UCLA Bruins
idk. USC is acting very un-blue bloodian lately. They sold naming rights to to their stadium, they play on friday nights, and they have field-level advertising. Now this. They are basically Arizona State with better recruiting.
Kiffin broke them
More like Pat Haden
Can't embed but holy shit Johnson
Dude has big ass hands. From that small clip he looks like a quicker Floyd.
why cant BGI get non-annoying recruiting analysts? Listening to the pod of gold again and i want to punch both of them in the face
Fuck he looks polished.
Intel On Elite 2020 DBs Manning, Watts — Holland
*** One of the biggest remaining questions this recruiting cycle is whether or not Notre Dame can land an elite level defensive back to add to a class full of upside prospects at the position. It’s always tough to really get back in it with recruits late in the cycle, especially with an accelerated timeline. But the Irish are more than capable of making a late run, and another strong season on the field would certainly help that cause.
*** Raytown (Mo.) cornerback Dontae Manning is looking to release his Top 10 schools after recently backing out of his verbal pledge to Oklahoma. That’s cool and all, but is Notre Dame really a serious contender here? The answer is somewhere in the middle. Texas A&M is the favorite right now, but the Aggies have already used their official visit. Manning still likes OU and is very high on programs like Oregon and LSU. Manning was supposed to officially visit Notre Dame in the spring but did not. However, he may make his way to campus this fall.
*** Again, the answer is somewhere in the middle, so you should temper expectations with Manning. Still, Notre Dame has been quietly working on him since before he decommitted from Oklahoma and may very well get him on campus for an official visit on Oct. 12 when the Irish take on USC. A strong trip would definitely move Notre Dame into the true contender category. From talking to a source, the Notre Dame staff has had positive conversations with Manning over the last few weeks.
*** By the way, Notre Dame wide receiver commit and fellow Missouri native Jordan Johnson is putting on his recruiting hat and has been hard at work recruiting Manning. Johnson is looking to make his way to South Bend for an unofficial visit on Oct. 12 to join Manning and take in the USC game. Johnson isn’t super vocal, but he commands respect from his peers.
6'0" | 180 LBS | CB
CLASS OF 2020
*** The last time we talked about four-star Little Elm (Texas) cornerback Ryan Watts, I said interest between both parties was preliminary. Watts remains committed to Oklahoma, but I’m still told that pledge is on shaky ground. I’m also told that Watts is becoming increasingly intrigued with the idea of giving Notre Dame a harder look. If Notre Dame pushes, I would expect him to make a visit this fall.
*** Watts has already used his official visit on Notre Dame. Coming out of the visit, there was a feeling that the Irish had taken the lead in that recruitment. I was actually on the Texas beat at the time of that trip and heard that from sources close to Watts. However, Oklahoma made the final move on his official visit, and I was told that’s where his heart was even from the beginning of his recruitment. Texas didn’t create too much traction.
*** So why is Watts reconsidering his decision if he loves OU so much? Well, I can’t go into much detail, but it’s the same reason Manning decided to see what else is out there. The point is Notre Dame now has a legitimate chance to make some real movement with both prospects. Landing either would really bolster this secondary class.
6'3" | 186 LBS | CB
LITTLE ELM, TX
CLASS OF 2020
Insight on 2021 Notre Dame Commit Berrong — Singer
*** I had the opportunity to talk with Rance Gillepsie, who is the high school head coach of Hartwell (Ga.) Hart county tight end and class of 2021 Notre Dame commit Cane Berrong. The former Georgia Southern offensive coordinator has coached high school and college football in the state of Georgia since 1992, giving him an outstanding wealth of experience, and he gave me a lot of information on Berrong. I will have a full story from this interview later this week, but I wanted to share some of the key points from the interview and add in my thoughts.
*** Gillespie recalled a story from when Berrong was going into his freshman year, and Berrong came up his middle school years as a quarterback. He wanted to compete for the Hart County starting quarterback position, but they already had more experienced, older and better passer at the position. So Gillespie, who had just started out as Hart County's head coach, asked Berrong to move to tight end, and it seemed that Gillespie was nervous about this request to Berrong. He knew that Berrong was a very talented player but saw his fit best at tight end long term.
*** Gillespie presented the position change to Berrong, and Berrong gave a very mature response of, "Coach, I'll play wherever you want me to play." Berrong took his new role at tight end very seriously and worked hard at it, and it paid off in a big way. Obviously, this is a very impressive response to a situation that a lot of other kids may not have answered so well.
6'4" | 225 LBS | TE
CLASS OF 2021
*** Berrong only has two years of experience at tight end, and Gillespie expects Berrong to improve more and more each year as he refines his skills and better learns the position. Gillespie knows college football and recruiting, and when he raved about Berrong's upside, it honestly got me fired up about the great potential Berrong offers. When you combine that with Berrong's work ethic, you have a no-brainer, top notch football player. at the next level This is a young man who ran a 4.53 laser timed 40 yard dash earlier this year at a combine, which is just an unreal time as a rising junior. At the NFL Combine earlier this year, the best time of tight ends was a 4.50. Berrong's time would've been second best.
*** Gillespie and the Hart County football program preach to its players about the value of the word commitment. When their kids commit to a school, they want them to be 100 percent locked in. I don't think Gillespie would've given Berrong his blessing to commit to the Irish if he didn't believe Berrong was completely bought in. In my talks with Berrong, I've got the vibe that he is indeed very solid with his early pledge to Notre Dame.
Who Are Notre Dame's Future Running Back Targets? — Singer
*** Notre Dame has its 2020 running back commitment in Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale's Chris Tyree, and the Irish don't plan on taking a second back in the class. In the 2021 class, Notre Dame has offered three guys in West Bloomfield's (Mich.) Donovan Edwards, who landed an offer from the Irish last December; Matthews (N.C.) Weddington all-purpose standout Will Shipley, who will be a tough pull out of the Carolinas; and Camar Wheaton, a five-star from Garland (Texas) Lakeview Centennial, who visited Notre Dame in the summer but will also be a tough get.
*** The way things stand today, I only expect Notre Dame to take one running back in the 2021 class. Coming out of spring ball, the staff feels really good about its running backs on roster (which is in part why ND only took one back in 2020) and adding Tyree is a huge addition to the team as well. If Notre Dame is able to hit on a top running back target in 2021, then adding a second is not a necessity. It's not a guarantee that Notre Dame will land one of the offered trio though.
6'1" | 190 LBS | RB
CLASS OF 2021
*** There are three other 2021 running backs who I'm keeping a close eye on. Loganville (Ga.) Grayson four-star back Phil Mafah is an impressive, powerful runner, but I'm not sure if Notre Dame will end up offering him. There is interest here, but he's not that high up on the board at the moment. I have heard really good things about Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview running back Cody Brown, the No. 53 player in the country. He has an impressive offer list already, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Notre Dame join it.
*** Cornelius (N.C.) Hough running back Evan Pryor is another back who the Irish have their eyes on. Notre Dame running backs coach Lance Taylor visited Pryor's high school this spring. Pryor has racked up 30 scholarship offers and ranks as the No. 51 recruit nationally.
*** Notre Dame hasn't offered any 2022 running backs yet, but there are a few names to know. Three are from the Lone Star state -- Isaiah Broadway (5-11, 174), Emeka Megwa (6-0, 213), and Jadarian Prince (5-11, 175). There's also interest in Arlen Harris, who is teammates with 2021 Notre Dame defensive tackle commit Gabriel Rubio. Harris' father played in the NFL with the Rams and Lions. He camped with Notre Dame this summer.
We have any ou guys here? Would be interested to hear wtf the cb coach did to make their commits run
anyone going to the soccer game this Friday? Druce laxjoe NilesIrish Beeds07 @anyoneIforgot
Too far of a drive for me. I'm going to Barca/Napoli in Ann Arbor. I think nexus might be going
yea, something strange definitely going on there
Going to training session Thursday, but had a previously scheduled trip I had originally forgotten about this weekend so I won't be at the game Friday.
I'm out. That may change as the week goes though.
I am, in fact, going. Not that he'd care
I'll be there.