Notre Dame Football

What Can ND Expect out of Freddy Canteen?

February 13, 2017
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One of the biggest rule changes implemented in recent years is the graduate transfer rule. It was created for the benefit of student-athletes to be rewarded with the ability to transfer schools without being forced to lose a year of eligibility. I don't have the numbers on transfers for each program, but I'd argue that no other program's players have benefited more than Notre Dame.

Players have left Notre Dame to pursue other opportunities on several occasions. In this off season several more have chosen to look elsewhere for a better chance at playing time as well. Already Malik Zaire, Justin Brent, Corey Holmes, Colin McGovern, and John Montelus have decided to move on once they graduate in order to get more time on the field.

It might not seem like it at first glance, but this rule has been a win-win for Notre Dame and the players in the program. The players get to play more football than they would have in South Bend and the program gets those scholarships back to give to recruits that should contribute to the program in future years.

The perception might be that the Irish haven't been as lucky when it comes to bringing in graduate transfers. The reality is that they are doing pretty well by going 1 for 2. Their first transfer that arrived via the rule was Cody Riggs. The former Florida defensive back ended up starting for the Irish in 2014 and played pretty well. Without him they would have been in big trouble due to KeiVarae Russell's suspension.

The second transfer was former Cal safety Avery Sebastian. His time in Berkeley was marred by injures and unfortunately those followed him to Notre Dame. He missed pretty much the entire 2015 season and was limited to being a depth player in 2016 to end his career.

So, why should going 1 for 2 be considered good?

Consider why most players end up transferring. Rarely is it a case motivated by academic reasons. It's almost always because of lack of playing time at a previous school. There are rare exceptions where someone is just looking to advance their career by going to a more successful program (ie Gehrig Dieter and Alabama) or a quarterback is looking for a clearer path to start (Russell Wilson and Wisconsin). The majority of the time it is someone who was unable to get on the field for whatever reason.

That is the case with Michigan transfer Freddy Canteen, who announced his intentions to transfer to Notre Dame after completing his degree in Ann Arbor later this spring. His college football resume is, for lack of a better description, meager.

Three years with 6 catches for 22 yards is not much to write home about. There really isn't film to break down to tell you what kind of player the Irish are getting in Canteen. (Believe me, I've tried looking for it.)

Instead of a film breakdown, I figured it would be best to go over what we do know about Canteen before he gets to Notre Dame.

He has not played a lot of football


I'm not sure when Canteen took up the game. For all I know he was a star in Pop Warner and has been playing for well over a decade. What I'm referring to is recent game experience. He doesn't have a ton of it and it dates back to high school football.

His high school team only played three games during his junior season because of cancellations and he did not have much film to offer. He also grew up in Delaware, which as his coach explained to ESPN.com's Chantel Jennings back in the summer of 2013, did not have spring football. That's a pretty good explanation for why he did not generate many offers. He earned his Michigan offer during a camp.

It was his play during camps that had him ranked as 4 star prospect by a couple of sites, but with limited game film available, it shows the flaws of ranking someone based on how they compete in only practice situations.

With not a ton of games under his belt and no spring practice, it was probably surprising that he did not redshirt as a freshman in Ann Arbor. He appeared in 10 games that season, Brady Hoke's final one at Michigan. Then when Jim Harbaugh took over the next year, he played in only 5 games as a sophomore.

Last season he sat out, essentially a redshirt, and was recovering from two shoulder surgeries.

That's five years and not a lot of game action. Based on this, I'm going to assume that Notre Dame is taking a chance on him based on the recommendation of a former coach because there just isn't much out there to evaluate him on.

High praise as an early enrollee


Canteen played out of the slot at Michigan and though I didn't see more than a spring game highlight of him making a play as an early enrollee, he certainly impressed his teammates there early in his career. (Quotes from Brenden F. Quinn via MLive.com)

Future All-American corner Jourdan Lewis said this about him in 2014:

"He's amazing," said Lewis. "He's really explosive. He's just a playmaker. He can do anything on that field."

Devin Funchess, Michigan's leading receiver in 2014 and an eventual 2nd round pick by the Carolina Panthers, had this say after Canteen's first spring in college.

"He's fast," said Funchess. "He can do everything. He can do things to get open and stretch the field.

"He's a playmaker. All playmakers go out there and make plays and he's been making plays all spring. That's why I feel like he's going to be on the field in the fall."

Listening this kind of praise, it's almost shocking that he wasn't more productive at Michigan. He came in during a miserable final season for Hoke and Harbaugh and his staff inherited him. If Hoke had stuck around, then I think there is a good chance Canteen would have had more of an opportunity the last couple of years. But if that happened, then he likely would not he headed to Notre Dame, though.

Jerry Tillery was the recipient of plenty of compliments from his teammates his first spring as an early enrollee as well. We're still waiting for him to breakout as a player and Canteen will get his second shot at living up to the hype at Notre Dame. He potentially will have two years of eligibility left if he can get into the mix. Based on what he played at Michigan, I would think that he will be competing with CJ Sanders, Chris Finke, and Michael Young in the slot or KJ Stepherson and Javon McKinley at X.

The odds of Canteen coming this summer and lighting the world on fire over the next two seasons are pretty slim, but it wouldn't be unprecedented if it happens. Just last season Amba Etta Tawo transferred to Syracuse from Maryland after recording only 30 career catches. He proceeded to put up 94 catches for 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2016.

It would be shocking if Canteen approached anything close to that, but we'll just have to wait and see. I don't think the Notre Dame coaching staff would have taken a chance on him if they knew he would only be an extra body on the roster. They must feel he can be much more by helping them on the field this season and possibly in 2018 as well.
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