Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Scouting the Roster: Devin Studstill

July 15, 2017

Player name: Devin Studstill

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 198

Player position: Free safety

Years of eligibility left: 3

Projected rank on the depth chart:
Competing to start at free safety

Player productivity so far:

2016: 38 tackles 1 TFL 1 INT 1 forced fumble

What player does best: Studstill came in as an early-enrollee and immediately put himself into the mix at free safety because of his football intelligence. As an athlete, he wasn’t going to compare favorably to Max Redfield. But as a football player, he was in a position to push for playing time because he showed instincts and ball skills that were advanced.

He did a solid job putting himself in position to make plays versus the run and despite being undersized last season, was not hesitant to play physical.

What player needs to work on:
At times last season Studstill looked overwhelmed. Not as much mentally as you would think for a freshman, but physically. It might have been the grind and the fact that he wasn’t prepared with his body for a full season of college football or it could have been a hernia injury he suffered and played through. I’m not exactly sure when he suffered that injury, but he had surgery immediately following the season.

He is bigger than he was last year, but I think we’ll get a better view of the player he will be in fall camp than we did in the spring based on his recovery time from that surgery.

He flashed as a good tackler, but would sometimes try to only throw a shoulder into an opponent rather than wrapping up. College football players bounce off those hits and he missed some tackles because of it.

His ball production wasn’t there in terms of pass breakups and we didn’t see enough of those in the spring. I’m not sure if it’s a question of him being a step slow or him recovering, but he’s need to be quicker to the football.

Productivity of former ND players and other comparable players in the nation at his position:

I’m going to include Matthias Farley as a third safety later in his career and two safeties from USC that split the position last season as comparable players for this season. I’m also including a redshirt freshman free safety that played for Wake Forest. I wouldn’t be surprised if Studstill ended up fitting into any of these scenarios.

Max Redfield 2015: 64 tackles 2 TFL 1 sack 2 PBU 1 QB hurry 1 forced fumble

Matthias Farley 2015: 41 tackles 1 INT 1 PBU 1 forced fumble

Matthias Farley 2012: 49 tackles 2 TFL 1 INT

Marvell Tell USC: 43 tackles 2 TFL 1 INT 2 PBU

Chris Hawkins USC: 44 tackles 4 TFL 1 sack 2 PBU 1 QB hurry 2 forced fumbles

Jessie Bates Wake Forest: 100 tackles 3.5 TFL 5 INT 4 PBU 1 QB hurry 1 forced fumble

What can we hope for? First of all, we can hope that Studstill is healthy. He wasn’t last year and I think it had a big impact on his play in addition to the typical ups and downs a freshman would experience. A healthy Studstill after a year in Matt Balis’ program should hopefully see an uptick with his development.

He needs to play with the confidence and swagger he showed in his first spring and as a recruit. It’s tough to play that way when you are losing ⅔ of your games, but this season should be different and I hope to see a more openly confident player on the field.

It would be ideal for him to take that next step and go from inconsistent freshman to solid sophomore that improves as a tackler and pushes Nick Coleman for the starting free safety job.

What is a realistic expectation? It’s more realistic to expect, based on what we saw in the spring, that he is more locked in to the second free safety spot behind Coleman. That means they will need him to play, but he would be more of a part-time player and likely play less snaps than last season. Coleman just flat out made more plays than him in the spring and Studstill needs to show he can do the same to have a full-split at the position or take the job himself.

There is a real possibility that he will be relied upon quite a bit. Notre Dame has rarely had a season where they only needed two safeties to play a large chunk of the snaps either due to injury or poor play. He may play less than last year, but make more of an impact in terms of numbers with interceptions/pass breakups. He needs a strong fall camp to establish his spot as a potential starter or third safety.

What about the future? Even after this season, Studstill still has two years of eligibility left. His window to make a significant impact will still be wide open. The promise he showed as an early enrollee that first spring wasn’t false hope in my opinion.

I think he can be a very good player and full-time starter for the Irish even if it doesn’t happen for him this fall. If he takes the proper steps with his development and is healthy in 2017, then I think the arrow will be pointing way up for him in blue and gold.
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