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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

2018 Class Shaping Up

October 24, 2017
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Now that ND is winning and some are excited about ND football again, recruiting will come into focus soon as well.  The Irish already have some great commitments in this 2018 class.  I thought I’d offer my thoughts on each player, and you can take my comments for whatever that is worth to you.  

QB Phil Jurkovec:  Wow, this kid could really be special.  He’s a better athlete than some realize.  He is probably a bit faster and a bit more loose in the hips that say a Brady Quinn.  Probably more in line with Dayne Crist as a runner, but this kid can really throw.  He’s much more advanced in the passing game than Kizer was, or Wimbush.  Wimbush is more elusive and explosive.  Both are similar in arm strength.  He plays the highest level of football in PA, so he’s facing quality competition and dominating.  He throws all throws well and accurate.  Very accurate on the deep balls and he doesn’t have to muscle up his throws to loft them 50-yards in the air.  He gets the ball out quickly.  Should be a really good one.  

Rick Kimball/ISD
Phil Jurkovec

RB Markese Stepp:  It’s really hard to say how “good” Stepp can be because he hasn’t been healthy much lately.  He’s a bigger back.  He’s all of 6-0 and at least 215 already.  His running style reminds me of Tony Fisher.  Solid inside the hole.  Runs with power.  Has good, not great speed, but he finishes runs well.  He can move pretty well laterally.  Good receiver out of the backfield.  I wish he could remain healthy so we could see him develop.  He could develop into a quality back with some health.  

RB Jahmir Smith:  He’s a real interesting prospect.  I love the short, choppy steps he runs with.  There isn’t a lot of wasted motion when he’s trying to avoid people, and that allows him to eat up yards quickly.  He reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew in running style.  Not saying he’s that good, but I think he will surprise some people.  Runs with a low center of gravity.  He plays in a similar style of offense to ND.  Hits the hole very quickly and decisively.  Seems to find his way easily and can make people miss with his short, choppy steps.  I think he will surprise some people.  

WR Micah Jones:  If you watch his junior highlight film, you’re not going to be impressed compared to other receivers.  I have yet to see any senior film.  All I have seen of him was at Irish Invasion after his junior year.  That was the performance that earned him an offer.  He showed good hands and route-running ability at Invasion.  He’s not going to run by a lot of people, at least not currently, but he doesn’t need to.  He just needs to catch everything thrown his way and run great routes.  If he does that, he can be effective.  I think he is a guy who has more upside than some and needs to be developed.  I think, physically, he has a lot of room for growth.  I remember talking to a ND coach when they signed Will Fuller.  He told me that he was going to get a lot faster when his body developed.  He was right.  I have a feeling Jones can also improve his overall speed and quickness with some quality strength and conditioning.  

WR Kevin Austin:  I really like Austin.  While he’s not as tall as EQ St. Brown, I think he’s a similar athlete with maybe even better speed.  He is also a gamer.  He plays very hard.  Wins battles with the ball in the air almost always.  He’s also a bit looser in the hips than St. Brown.  He can turn pretty well left and right and is explosive out his cuts when he does.  I like his compete level and his ability to fight for the ball while in the air.  He will definitely be a vertical threat at the next level as well.  

TE George Takacs:  Takacs reminds me a lot of Kyle Rudolph.  Not sure he’s the full 6-6 that Rudolph is, but he has a very similar frame.  He’s a bully as a blocker.  Very eager and punishing as  blocker.  As a receiver, he has soft hands.  He can go up and get a ball.  He runs well for his size.  He’s not a blazer like an Eifert, but he certainly runs well enough.  I’d say his floor is Troy Niklas while his ceiling is probably Kyle Rudolph.  Nice company to be in.  

OL Cole Mabry:  I really like this kid.  He’s a tough kid.  He really plays physical for a tackle.  He’s physical enough to play guard but also can move well enough to play tackle.  On film, he doesn’t face a lot of great pass rushers, so it’s really hard to say how effective he is as a pass blocker.  As a run blocker, he’s going to punish you way past the whistle.  When he’s laying on guys after pancaking them, he’s given them the business.  Love his attitude.  Love his toughness.  Probably a guy who will need to develop as he’s a bit light, and not sure he plays the best competition, but he’s a good prospect who should develop.  

OL John Dirksen:  I probably know more about astrophysics than I do John Dirksen, which equates to nothing.  He’s a big kid.  Plays bad competition.  He’s just a lot bigger and more athletic than a lot of the kids he plays against.  I will say he comes off the ball hard and quick, and he moves his feet well and seems to be pretty agile for a guy his size.  Looks like he could pull well.  That’s about all I can say, sorry. 

NG Ja’mion Franklin:  On film, he’s a one-man wrecking crew.  He should be, he’s playing against guys who are usually 100 pounds lighter than him.  The competition he plays against is not good, and that is being kind  But, you can see a very quick first step for a nose guard.  You can see relentless pursuit, which he shows continually.  He doesn’t have a very long arms, but he does play with good leverage and stays low.  His big issue is going to come from the jump in competition.  He won’t be able to just stand up and throw two guys out of the way.  I like his effort and get off.  I like his constant pursuit.  He showed up well at times at the Opening, which was a HUGE jump in competition for him, so he shouldn’t be completely lost when he shows up at ND.  There is a lot of good, raw clay to work with here, and he already has the size needed.  I think he could develop into a very good player but might take him some time as I doubt he’s had to play with much technique, ever.  

DT Jayson Ademilola:  Jayson was a big pickup for ND.  He’s a perfect 3 technique.  Very quick off the ball.  Plays with a high motor.  He’s just developing physically as a player.  He will get stronger and quicker as he develops his body.  His quickness and motor will make him a very effective player.  I think he can be a slightly bigger Sheldon Day.  He may not be quite as quick, but I think he will be more powerful once he gets into ND’s strength program.  

DE Justin Ademilola:  Like Jayson, I think Justin is just developing his body.  He’s another guy who will be interesting to watch.  He has a lower base that will allow him to add quite a bit more good weight.  He’s not overly explosive as a pass rusher, but he’s powerful for his size.  I’m not sure he has the body to be a strong side defensive end, but he does have the body to pack on weight if need be.  If he can work on his explosiveness off the ball, to go with the power he plays with, he could become a very good prospect for ND.  

Rover:  Shayne Simon:  I know ND absolutely loves this kid.  They love the way he plays on the field, and his leadership ability.  He’s a good athlete for his size.  I don’t see him playing safety.  I don’t think he’s athletic enough to be a safety, but I do like him at Rover, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up playing Buck backer in ND’s system.  He shows really good field awareness and the ability to find the football, both in the run game and in coverage.  I’m anxious to see his senior film.  He plays for a great program against some top flight competition.  

LB Ovie Oghoufo:  I’m a big Ovie fan.  I know he doesn’t play the best competition, but he absolutely dominates the teams he plays.  I’m not sure if he ends up as a Rover or a Buck or potentially a Drop end in passing situations.  I think Oghoufo and Simon will be slotted in either Buck or Rover.  I wish Ovie was a few inches taller as he’d be a great pass rush candidate.  Love the intensity and effort he plays with.  

LB Jack Lamb:  A dude this size shouldn’t move this well.  He’s at least 6-foot-3, and he’s going to easily carry 240 without losing athletic ability.  He plays with great effort and intensity.  He will be a MLB, but could even grow into a Drop.  I love his instincts.  He finds the football.  Reminds me of Greer Martini in that regard, but I think he’s more athletic than Greer.  He can “get small” for such a bigger kid and knife through holes to make negative plays in the backfield.  He’s a very good blitzer and turns his body well when he has to avoid people while blitzing.  He also handles linemen well.  Can seem to get off a block to make plays.  He’s a very good MLB protect.  

LB Bo Bauer:  When you watch Bauer on film, he is pretty impressive.  He plays with violence.  He is a physical kid.  He has good straight line speed and the ability to blitz and get through traffic to find the ball carrier.  He looks impressive, no question.  My only concern was what I saw at Invasion last year.  He just didn’t seem to move well left and right.  In his defense, he had been playing baseball all summer and wasn’t in prime football shape and probably was tired.  One workout does not make or break a player.  However, to play MLB at this level, you have to be able to run to the sideline.  Most of his highlights highlight his straight line speed, which is impressive.  I think he has a lot of impressive qualities that will make him a good prospect.  I just want to see how well he can run sideways and in pass coverage.  

S Derrick Allen:  What you have with Derrick Allen is a player who reminds me a lot of Drue Tranquill.  If Drue Tranquill were athletic enough to play safety, he’d be Derrick Allen.  Allen is big and physical enough to play Rover, but athletic enough to play safety.  What’s not to like about that?  He’s a massive safety with good athleticism and speed.  He plays very physical in the run game.  I’d love to see a team of Tranquill at Rover and Allen at strong safety.  Wow!  I think Allen could play Rover as well if he continues to grow.  

S Paul Moala:  Yes, I know it’s Indiana football, but it is the largest class of Indiana football, and Moala has been tearing it up in the largest class in Indiana football.  Moala is another big hitter with very long arms.  I like safeties with long arms.  They can bat away balls, and use those long arms to wrap or trip up legs in the open field.  Moala does a lot of that.  He also shows very sound fundamentals when tackling.  He’s also a kick and punt returner, which showcases his strong ability to turn left and right in small areas and explode out of those cuts, but also showcases his long speed, which is quite impressive.  He easily has enough athleticism to play free safety and be a centerfielder out there.  I have no idea why this kid doesn’t have a ton of offers, but he should.  He’s a really good athlete.  I’d say he is more athletic and has more long speed than either Jalen Elliott or Devin Studstill, and he has their size as well.  

It’s just one man’s opinion, and I’m hardly an “expert,” but I have watched a few highlight films in my time.  I hope you enjoyed this.  

 
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