The Opening Day 3: Scouting Notebook

July 2, 2017
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The first two days of The Opening were just a little taste of what was to come. The real competition started today and boy, did it ever kickoff with a bang.

This is my fourth year covering The Opening and this was by far the most competitive atmosphere I've seen with tensions running high during the one on ones with the big boys up front, the linebackers vs running backs, and the skill positions that were heated on just about every rep.

Frankly, I didn't feel it crossed any lines, and it was a lot of fun to watch.

Might as well get to it and with some notes on some Notre Dame targets.

- Derrik Allen is huge. That wasn't surprising because I knew that headed in, but it is really something looking at him compared to most of the other defensive backs. Even someone like Shayne Simon, who likely projects to Rover/linebacker at the next level, looked smaller than Allen.

Most probably saw his amazing one-handed interception during one on ones (check it out here), but I got a chance to watch him earlier during drill work as well. He had some trouble being too high in his backpedal and that made his transitions a lot less smooth than most of the other defensive backs in his group. Physically he can match up and run with people, but he wasn't as fluid as I would have liked to see.

I think those projecting him to free safety are probably stretching. I think he is much more likely to play strong safety at Notre Dame, but I'm excited to see him line up from deep. I want to see him make some plays a high safety at this camp.

- Might as well transition to Simon who is a safety at this camp even if Notre Dame likes him at Rover. They apparently have talked about safety with him as well so how he performs here will be an interesting piece to look at to figure out if he can or not.

He has a smaller frame and moved more efficiently than Allen in drills, although I felt he looked a bit more tentative in one on ones, which is something Christian noticed as well. Maybe he wanted to keep everything in front of him and not get beat deep, but he did make a nice play against Irish tight end target Jeremy Ruckert in a physical situation. That's the kind of match-up Simon will have to win as a Rover if he were to choose Notre Dame.

- Man, is Anthony Cook ever impressive. Throw in all the complimentary adjectives you cant think of for a corner and it probably would describe Cook really well.

Tall. Long. Twitchy. Smooth. You get the point. He's really, really good.

I really loved Cook's discipline on one play where a receiver had a step on him deep. He knew he was beat and was working to close the gap. If he turned his head, he would have given up a big play because he wasn't in a position to make a play. Instead he kept his eyes on the receiver and ran through his hands to prevent a completion.

He also was super quick out of his break and showed great anticipation to break up a pass to 5 star wide receiver Jalen Hall on a slant. He was challenging himself against the best there and I'll get back to Cook again when I talk about a big time wide receiver target.

- I think the talk of Houston Griffith as more of a safety than a corner needs to die down. Maybe there are a few more impressive athletes at the position here, but the drop off is not very big from them to him. And he makes up for any edge by being incredibly efficient with his feet.

There is no wasted motion with him out of his backpedal and at any time in coverage. His coverage against Chase Cota was a perfect example of that. He mirrored Cota step for step on an out route to break up the pass where he might as well have been his shadow.

I've always been very high on Griffith as a prospect and I can't see that not being the case after this camp.

- One kid I really hope Notre Dame still has an outside shot at is Texas cornerback D'Shawn Jamison. I love his film and how he can do just about everything. He is small, but plays big just like when he went up against Ruckert.

The quarterback threw a bad ball low and away to Ruckert and he worked hard to come up with what looked like a great catch. Jamison had other plans. He kept fighting through the catch point and eventually ripped it out of Ruckert's hands.

- Kamryn Babb is shorter than I expected he would be, but he is also even better as a player. I think I have him ranked too low and he should be in the ISD Fab 50. I'll get to that after this camp is over, though. For now I'll keep watching to see how much higher his grade needs to be raised.

He just has that extra something when it comes to separation and he is strong out there. He has big time number one receiver potential and I saw plenty of flashes of that today.

- I might as well get to the star of the day. Amon-Ra St. Brown was already one of my favorite recruits in the class, but he continues to do things to make me like him even more as a prospect.

The first two days I've admired his work ethic so much and compared it to seeing Michael Floyd in practice when he was in college. There is a tenacity to his game even when running routes on air, but it comes out even more against competition.

If the ball is in the air, ASB is coming down with it. It doesn't matter that he isn't the biggest guy. In that way his game reminds me of former Irish star Golden Tate. His confidence is like Tate's as well. Some people don't like it, but I love it. Give me a kid with that kind of swagger who can back it up any day. And he can back it up.

He made a terrific catch after falling down and then getting back up to leap up and get it. He beat corners deep. He beat them short. He got matched up with Cook and when Cook grabbed him to try and prevent a big play, Amon-Ra was not having any of it. Neither was Cook and they came close to blows. Fortunately they didn't.

That one incident was a mere distraction for everything Amon-Ra did, though. He was putting on a show during and then after the play. I will definitely move up to 5 star status after this camp and possibly in the top 10 overall in the class.

- Anthony Scwhartz is faster than normal Florida fast. He can fly and if he is running a go-route, I'm not sure many corners can run with him and one who tried to couldn't tonight.

He is still raw as a route runner and must learn to come back to the football, but his speed is unique. Even if he is a one play wonder per game, that one play could break a game open.

- It's a very weak crop of offensive linemen overall, but the one constant is 5 star guard Jamaree Salyer. When I came over to watch the O-line vs D-line one on ones he put together two dominant reps right away.

One thing I really like about him is that even though he knows how good he is, he still is working to get better each time. He takes in coaching and was even receiving some tips from Notre Dame offensive lineman Quenton Nelson who was in attendance. I see a lot of similarities to Nelson's game with Salyer and he has the same kind of ceiling to be an All-American guard.

If he was to choose Notre Dame, he would have a chance to play right away in Nelson's left guard spot after he presumably leaves for the NFL.

- I like the interior players a lot more than I like that tackles, but I did see some good potential from recent Notre Dame offer Will Craig. He won back to back reps against 2019 rising star Zach Harrison.

I like Craig's feet, but his hand placement needs a lot of refinement. He's someone that I think has a chance to be a lot better by the third day of practices for the linemen.

- Might as well go back to Harrison quickly and just say "wow" about him as physical specimen. Everything about his frame and the way he moves suggests the NFL is in his future. But first he has a long way to go when it comes to learning how to be effective as a defensive lineman.

His hands are really raw and I hope this camp makes him exponentially better with the coaching he is going to receive.

- He didn't put on a clinic like he did at the New Jersey regional, but Jayson Ademilola showed the hand violence and quickness on his final rep of the day with a club and swim to beat Sam Taimani clean for a win.

Earlier I didn't see the decisiveness from him that I am used to seeing. He had a guard beat, but lost his footing on one rep and got stuck in a bull rush with no counter on another. Hopefully the final rep of the day is a sign of things to come for him.

- Notre Dame's other defensive tackle commit Ja'mion Franklin was a bit better during his reps. He came to compete and I loved seeing his lateral quickness on a jab step where he exploded through the shoulder of Taimani and had a nice wrist grab to finish a rush on the play before.

I should mention that Taimani is the former Sam Vakalahi. He recently changed his last name to honor his grandparents. He is a raw in pass protection do to his high school offense and he'll get a chance to improve on it over the next couple of days.

- I only saw one rush from Jowon Briggs, but he flashed a great first step and worked an edge to get to the quarterback. They take so many one on one reps at this camp that he won't be able to the same thing over and over again to win. The offensive linemen and coaches will figure it out. I want to see him work to expand his repertoire. He's got the tools to be a heck of 3 technique and we'll see if he can put it all together.

- Just wanted to quickly mention two players who aren't Notre Dame targets. Elijah Moore from St. Thomas Aquinas was filthy running routes today and the number one player in the country, Clemson commit Xavier Thomas, was a beast. I think most people will think of Thomas bull rushing a kid into oblivion, but the rep before that was even better when he exploded inside with lateral movement that made him look like Barry Allen.
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