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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Film Don't Lie |S Justin Walters

February 2, 2020

Former Denver Broncos safety Steve Atwater was just elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They don’t make many like him these days. He’s a throwback to when a big part of the job of playing safety was intimidating the other team and making receivers fear the repercussions of venturing over the middle of the field.

New Notre Dame safety commit Justin Walters‍ has a long way to go to match what Atwater did with his football career, but Walters plays like he is from a different era. He’s a big hitter who arrives with violence to the football that brings with him a physical edge that will fit right in with the Irish secondary.

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 170

Projected Position: Safety

ISD Grade: 89 (3-star)

National Average Grade: 88.3 (3-star)

What he does best:

Walters is an outstanding tackler. When you think of the Ronnie Lott description of aiming for a point behind the ball carrier, that’s how it looks when Walters tackles. He brings it.


He thrives as a defender in the box because he can sift through the trash and knock a runner backwards, but safeties have to be able to tackle in space and he does that well too. He should be a very strong perimeter defender against versus outside runs and the screen game.


He finishes plays. Whether its knocking the ball out here or making sure someone doesn’t make the line to gain, he asserts himself on the football field.


It’s this kind of play that makes me believe he can be used as a Robber to jump crossing patterns. He has the perfect downhill mentality to excel making plays like this.


What he needs to improve:

Walters needs to improve his route recognition. Though he arrives in a hurry after he sees it, he’ll be a much bigger factor if he can anticipate routes. He doesn’t do that well right now.

He can also be smoother out of transitions. I’d like to see him more explosive when planting and driving to the football.

The name of the game is Havoc and being better in these areas will help him create more of it. He needs to get his hands on the football more often.

What’s his ceiling?

Walters is long and for someone who is listed at 170, he sure doesn’t play like it. He projects as a physical box safety and his skill set is similar to former Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman. I think he can develop into an impact player as a run defender. How he progresses in coverage will determine his ceiling.

Can he succeed in man coverage? Can he flip his hips and play deep? Can he get have more Havoc production? The answers to those questions will tell us if he can become a solid player who can start at strong safety or if he can become an elite player at the next level.

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