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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Updated ISD Fab 50 and Risers after The Opening

July 7, 2017

Football is football. A camp is a camp. There is no doubt that there are differences between the two and it's always better to evaluate players in pads either in a game or practice. But for all of those that thinks camps aren't important, it's just obvious to me that they have never been to The Opening.

Bucky Brooks is a former NFL player and scout. He's currently an NFL Draft analyst for and coaches receivers at The Opening. I think this tweet from him perfectly sums up why an event like this can be such a valuable evaluation tool.

Not every top player in the nation was there, but a good percentage were. It's a camp that is loaded with 4 and 5 star recruits. So when a player dominates, it does mean something. Because of that and having so many great prospects in one setting, it's a great opportunity to adjust my grades and rankings for ISD now that's it over.

166 players competed. After adding what I saw from The Opening to my previous evaluation of those prospects, I gave 30 or so of those prospects improved grades. I'll get to the Notre Dame commits and targets in a moment, but I'll start with changes to the ISD Fab 50.

Three new 5 stars

I'm not a big believer in giving out a certain number of 5 star rankings simply because that's how it's been done before. If there aren't 30 recruits worthy of a 5 star ranking, it makes no sense to hand it out. Teachers don't try to hit a quota when it comes to giving out A's and NFL teams don't give out first round grades to exactly 32 players every year. It's a merit thing everywhere else so I give out 5 star rankings to the players who I feel deserve it.

Prior to the camp I had 12 5 stars in the ISD Fab 50. I added 3 and subtracted 1 after this camp. The three who made the jump were all no-brainers to me.

The first is quarterback Justin Fields. He won the MVP of the Elite 11 and he earned it. His team won the 7 on 7 tournament and they did so primarily because of him. I can't remember seeing a quarterback at this camp being so consistently perfect with his ball placement. He beat tight coverage on his receivers routinely because he put the ball in the exact right spot to give his receivers a chance to catch it.

His ability to go through progressions and find the right option was so advanced compared to just about every other quarterback competing. And physically there is no one who is looks like he is already in a college program more than he does. He reminded me of DeShone Kizer at Notre Dame's Pro Day. That's how big he is right now and he is not even a senior in high school yet. He moved up to the number two prospect in the nation.

I've written plenty about Amon-Ra St. Brown all week, so no need to regurgitate most of that here. He's now the second ranked receiver in the nation and the 9th prospect overall.

The third is one I didn't expect heading into it, but I can't deny how phenomenal Ohio State Jaelan Gill looked. He played running back and lined up in the slot and was dangerous from both spots. When he was matched up with a linebacker, it was almost unfair. None of them could run with him and his speed to separate was outstanding.

He's going to be a dynamic presence for the Buckeyes much like Curtis Samuel was for them in 2016. Because of his big play ability and versatility to play receiver and running back, I elevated him to the 13th ranked prospect in the nation.

The player who was a 5 star and is no longer is wide receiver Jalen Hall. I still think Hall has massive potential at the next level, but I didn't seen enough from him to justify keeping him as high as he was. His tools give him a high ceiling, but he's not dominant enough like some other receivers. There were at least seven receivers at the camp that stood out more than he did.

I still have him as a highly ranked player, 21st overall, but he'll have to earn back that 5 star with his senior film.

Other risers in the Fab 50

Tight end Jeremy Ruckert was dominant. I had him as the top ranked tight end in the nation before the camp and he only separated himself further from the pack at The Opening. I bumped his grade up to a 98 and he is now 18th overall.

Cornerback/safety Jalen Green out of Houston was really good at corner and even better when he shifted back to safety where he made several picks over the course of the week. He is now a 97 and the 22nd ranked prospect overall.

Brendan Hadley-Riles isn't as good as Jamyest Williams was in the 2017 class, but it's pretty close. The Nebraska commit was a constant communicator and was physical and instinctive in coverage. He is also a 97 and moved up to 25th.

All the way from outside of the top 50, Penn State wide receiver commit Justin Shorter is now a 96 and 28th overall. Christian told me how good he was at the Under Armour camp in New Jersey and he lived up to everything that was said. His combination of size (6'4" 215) and speed makes him so tough to cover and his ball skills aren't too shabby either.

I gave Houston Griffith a slight bump up to a 96 and made him 30th overall after seeing how good he was at corner.

The other risers were all out of the top 50 before the camp. Ohio State defensive end commit Brenton Cox was the best edge rusher not named Xavier Thomas. Cox was more diverse with his pass rush than I expected and is only going to bet better. He is 39th.

If Jamaree Salyer wasn't so dominant, I think a lot more people would have been talking about guards Trey Hill and Penei Sewell. Both are massive people movers in the run game that proved they are also knee benders with good feet that can handle themsevles well in pass protection.

D'Shawn Jamison was awesome as a slot corner. His size is probably the only thing keeping him from being ranked even higher. Jamison was a pass breakup machine.

He found his way into the ISD Fab 50 as well as receiver Kamryn Babb. He made a bunch of clutch catches and was very strong out of his breaks. It was a good group of receivers and he fit in with all the top guys there who separated themsevles from the others.

All the way up

Out of the 5 Notre Dame commits that competed, 4 were given a bump.The 5th was safety Derrik Allen and the only reason he wasn't given a bump was because I felt I already had him properly graded. He is the 20th ranked prospect in the nation according to ISD. Only one other service has him ranked in the top 50.

He just validated everything I saw from him on film and is going to be a really great player for the Irish that should do many things well.

Defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola was the player who got the biggest bump up to 94 and just missed out on making the ISD Fab 50.

It wasn't long ago that he was barely a top 250 prospect in some places. He's been ballin' out all off-season and though he got off to a slow start at The Opening, he finished strong by making the Final 5. He's now a top 5 defensive tackle in the class and could rise up even further after his senior season.

Tight end George Takacs moved up slightly to a 91 and if he was more productive, I think he could have moved up even more. He just didn't see enough targets his way to do so, but I left the camp being more excited about his frame and athletic potential than before I saw him in person.

I had linebacker Ovie Oghoufo and defensive tackle Ja'mion Franklin ranked as high 3 star prospects heading into this and both moved up to a 4 star ranking after seeing them compete. Franklin was better earlier in the camp than late, but absolutely proved he was not out of his depth going against better competition. His first step was really good.

I saw a physical edge from Ovie and I love the physical development I have seen from him over the last year. His arrow is pointing way up. I just want to see him his senior year to get a better idea of his fit in Mike Elko's defense.

Other ND targets going up (but not on a Tuesday)

I mentioned a few already with St. Brown, Ruckert, Griffith, Jamison, and Babb all improving their grade. There are a few other Irish targets that moved up as well.

I had Kevin Austin Jr. ranked as the 19th ranked receiver in the nation before the camp. He rose up to the top 10 and just missed making the Fab 50 after The Opening. He showed the potential to be a number one receiver at the next level could be that player for the Irish if he chooses Notre Dame.

I mentioned in a scouting notebook that I didn't get to see a ton of Talanoa Hufanga, but I saw enough of him as an athlete in the Saturday night one on ones and defensive back drills to see he is fluid and explosive. He's a long shot until he visits, but he projects well at safety.

The offensive tackle group wasn't a great one, but Will Craig was one of the only bright spots. He has plenty of physical development to do. That's clear just from looking at him. He got better every day, though, and his feet were always good. His hand placement and ability to anchor against the bull rush kept improving and he held his own against Cox. He moved up slightly to a 91.

Other standouts

Two quarterbacks, Tanner McKee and TCU commit Justin Rogers, made a leap in my rankings. Both are graded out at 94 now. I didn't have either in my top 10 at the position before the camp, but I loved what both did this week.

Tight end Luke Ford was the second best tight end at the camp next to Ruckert. He may be the second best tight end in the class and is at least in the top 3. He was much more athletic than I expected. He moved up to a 94.

A couple of players from USC pipeline programs, but aren't USC commits yet, were two of the better safeties in 7on play. Aashari Crosswell goes to Long Beach Poly and he was picking off passes left and right. He moved up to a 94. Bryan Addison goes to Junipero Serra and was making plays on both sides of the ball. I like his future at safety, though. He is ultra long and has great range.

California receiver Devon Williams only seemed to catch touchdowns. His catch radius is ridiculous and he went up and high pointed the football on several occasions. He's a 94 and a no doubt top 100 prospect overall in my opinion.
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