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A Look at Notre Dame Recruiting 2013 Defensive Tackles

This is the first part in a series looking at recruiting, specifically who Notre Dame is targeting. While admittedly I’m an IRISH HOMER, this could be illustrative of ANY TEAM in the country. This fascination with recruiting began with Bruce Feldman’s Meat Market, which took at look at Mississippi’s recruiting under then HC Ed Orgeron. I highly recommend it.

I always think it is interesting to see how specific teams recruit. Since my favorite college football team is Notre Dame, I also find it fascinating to see how ND is doing when it comes to the recruiting games! Notre Dame is also a pretty good illustration on how difficult it must be to recruit players. It is unique in that it has a few barriers to the gridiron that other schools don’t have. It is an academic institution which makes admissions a bit tougher than it would be at your typical SEC school. It’s also a Catholic university which puts it in pretty unique company with Boston College. BYU and to a lesser extent Utah is in this same group because of their affiliation with the Mormon church. Those two qualifications along make Notre Dame the most unique football situation in all the land when it comes to recruiting big time high school players, but there are a couple of other obstacles Notre Dame has to overcome besides it’s academic rigors and religious affiliation.

The first is that South Bend Indiana is in the middle of nowhere with bad weather during the winter months. You can argue a half dozen other schools are in the middle of nowhere as well, but the weather factor for Notre Dame is brought up all the time. Why it isn’t brought up for teams like Penn St., Ohio St., and Michigan I’m not entirely sure, but we’ll go with the myth just to be on the same side. It’s possible that the weather might have something to do with the fewer women around? Michigan is cold too in the winter, but the student body in Ann Arbor is much larger so maybe there is a larger amount of available women to garner the attention of young football players. I don’t know. The other obstacle is head coach Brian Kelly. I believe Kelly to be one of the truly ELITE head coaches in college football, but I’m not entirely sure he’d be the easiest guy to play football for. With that said, Notre Dame not only has to worry about its religious affiliation, its academic rigors, its climate problems, but also getting a player that will be the PERFECT fit within the Notre Dame program with Coach Kelly. This is what I think people refer to as character. Character can have a broad meaning, but for the most part we are going to confine the definition as a player who would “fit” within the Notre Dame culture.

Note, these rankings are from RIVALS and all information provided is from that website. Some of you may be wondering about the stars each player receives. To summarize, Montravious Adams is the only 5-star DT recruit in 2013 according to Rivals. Players ranked #2 through #20 received 4-star rankings. Players from #21 through #40 are all 3-star recruits.

RANK DEFENSIVE TACKLE HOME STATE HT WT COMMIT ND OFFER?
1 Montravius Adams Georgia 6’3 299 undecided no
2 Henry Poggi Maryland 6’4 260 MICHIGAN yes
3 Justin Manning Texas 6’2 275 undecided no
4 A’Shawn Robinson Texas 6’4 302 TEXAS no
5 Michael Hill South Carolina 6’3 315 undecided no
6 Scott Pagano Hawaii 6’3 280 undecided yes
7 Greg Webb New Jersey 6’2 290 PENN ST. no
8 Caleb Brantley Florida 6’3 302 FLORIDA no
9 Jaynard Bostwick Florida 6’4 291 undecided no
10 Isaiah Golden Texas 6’2 295 TEXAS A&M no
11 Kelsey Griffin Georgia 6’1 289 undecided no
12 Billy Price Ohio 6’4 280 OHIO ST. yes
13 Kerrick Huggins Texas 6’4 283 TEXAS A&M no
14 Darius Latham Indiana 6’5 275 undecided yes
15 Keith Bryant Florida 6’2 306 MIAMI-FL no
16 Derrick Calloway Florida 6’1 310 undecided no
17 Hardreck Walker Texas 6’2 280 undecided no
18 Tevin Lawson Louisiana 6’4 275 LSU no
19 Rod Crayton Alabama 6’1 290 undecided no
20 Deadrin Senat Florida 6’1 311 undecided yes
21 Chris Robinson Louisiana 6’2 270 OLE MISS no
22 Vincent Taylor Texas 6’3 277 OKLAHOMA ST. no
23 DeAndre Johnson Georgia 6’3 310 GEORGIA no
24 Jay Woods Georgia 6’2 270 undecided no
25 Kenneth Clark California 6’2 275 undecided no
26 Sam Smith California 6’4 283 undecided no
27 Lowell Lotulelei Utah 6’2 290 undecided no
28 Jay Ellison Georgia 6’1 280 undecided no
29 Antar Thompson Missouri 6’3 295 MISSOURI no
30 Maurice Hurst Massachusetts 6’2 305 MICHIGAN no
31 Donovan Munger Ohio 6’4 290 undecided yes
32 Tevin Montgomery Massachusetts 6’5 295 undecided no
33 Maquedius Bain Florida 6’3 308 FLORIDA ST. no
34 Kenton Gibbs Michigan 6’2 290 ILLINOIS no
35 Andrew Billings Texas 6’1 301 undecided no
36 Kyle Shortridge Florida 6’2 273 undecided no
37 Ben Hughes Texas 6’2 310 undecided no
38 Darius Paige Florida 6’3 275 ALABAMA no
39 Darius Commissiong Maryland 6’2 285 GEORGIA TECH no
40 Jacob Hyde Kentucky 6’2 313 KENTUCKY no

A FEW THOUGHTS

The first thing that sticks out is how fuzzy the defensive tackle rankings really are. Remember that Kelly is going to run primarily a 3-4 scheme which means his DT is a NT and needs to be a guy big enough to take on two blockers. It also means that most of the guys listed here as DTs are really DEs in a 3-4 scheme because of size. A true NT needs to be around 6’4-6’5 and well over 300lbs with athleticism. Those types of players don’t exactly grow on trees. In 2009, Alabama’s NT was Terrence “Mount” Cody who was 6’5/365lbs! Last year, Alabama’s NT was Josh Chapman who was 6’1/320lbs. Cody was ridiculous when it comes to size, but think of a Vince Wilfork kind of guy is 6’2-6’3 and about 330lbs. Now let’s take a look at the players ND has offered.

Henry Poggi: Sort of an intersesting player. Rivals has the guy really high and ESPN actually lists him at 6’3 instead of 6’4. What sticks out about Poggi is his lack of weight despite being classified as a DT. He’s only 260lbs which makes him a very odd entry and it’s also odd how high Rivals has the guy. It doesn’t really matter because Poggi committed to Michigan, but from what I can tell, he’s more suited to potentially become an H-Back/Blocking TE type of player. That could change if he can add 30-40lbs, but if he’s considered somewhat of an H-Back then he’s got some athleticism that could come into question if he adds that much weight. The Irish thought enough to offer him which speaks volumes, but I’m not sure at this point where he would fit in.

Scott Pagano: Pagano has good size at 6’3/280lbs and is thought of at this stage as primarily a rush defender along the interior defensive line. Ideally at this size, Kelly would be interested in making him a 3-4 DE which makes sense given his ability to stop the run. He’s a bit rudimentary when it comes to rushing the passer and needs to work on that, but he is already a pretty good bull rusher from the inside. The prevailing thought is that he can add quite a bit more weight because physically he’s put together very well. If he can get up to 6’3/300lbs then he could at least give the Irish coaches some pause to line him up on the inside, but for the most part he looks the part of a 3-4 DE who could develop into a nice run stopper who can also get to the QB. I’m sure Kelly is pulling out all the stops using the Manti Te’o angle seeing how Pagano is from Hawaii, but his offer sheet is impressive with offers from Florida, Florida St., Georgia, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, USC and even Yale! Looks like this guy would be a great find for the Irish.

Jaynard Bostwick: Bostwick has great size at 6’4, but his weight is very interesting. Rivals has him down at 291lbs, but ESPN has him down at 250lbs! It’s a significant difference. Let’s go with Rivals since it’s what I’ve been looking at. Obviously Bostwick’s size gives him an advantage in a 3-4 scheme. If he’s already 291lbs, then with a real weightroom and a real program, he could get even higher which makes him a candidate for a 3-4 NT. On the other hand, if he’s just 250lbs, he’s really tailor made to be a 3-4 DE at 6’4/280lbs. Bostwick is a physical specimen, but he knock on him is that he gets off the line a bit too slow. A Floridian, he has narrowed his choices at two opposite extremes in Miami-FL or Oregon! Anything can happen in recruiting I guess, but right now the Ducks & Canes are the leaders. Bostwick also had offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, LSU, Michigan St., Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Billy Price: A native, Ohioan, Price has already committed to Urban Meyer & Ohio St. He’s another player where Rivals & ESPN differ on weight. Rivals has him at 6’4/280lbs while ESPN has him at 6’4/301lbs. Ohio St. will run a 4-3 set meaning they are looking at Price as a 4-3 DT although there is some thought that he could play guard on the offensive side of the ball. The word on Price is that he’s a tough, physical football player so it’s too bad Notre Dame didn’t land him. He looks the part of an Irish football player. It would have been interesting to see how Kelly would have used him though. Given what the Irish are doing to the O-Line, it almost seems as if Price might be too small to play there which means Kelly & Co. thought of him primarily as a D-Lineman. At 6’4/290lbs (we’ll split the difference) ND had to be thinking 3-4 DE although if he’s 290lbs in high school, he could be 310-320 in college meaning he could have gotten some consideration as a 3-4 NT.

Darius Latham: The most important DT prospect on the board in my opinion because he’s bigger than everyone else listed and he’s also siting in Notre Dame’s backyard, playing his HS ball in Indianapolis. Latham is a specimen at 6’5, but once again we have some differing opinions on weight. Rivals has him at 275lbs while ESPN has him at 290lbs! If you are going to be 6’5, then you need to have the weight that a Terrance Cody has. Forget it with Latham meaning he’s going to be a 3-4 DE in Kelly’s defensive schemes. That’s fantastic. Latham has the build to get to 300-310lbs meaning he’s going to be outstanding sealing off the edge. As tall as he is, he plays a bit high, but if he works on his technique that won’t be a problem at the collegiate level. Right now he’s best at stopping the run, but shows some skills as a pass rusher. Latham is an exciting player for me because he’s an Indiana kid and 6’5/300lbs 3-4 DE don’t grow on trees. Give him a couple of years at Notre Dame to get a lot better and this guy could easily be playing on Sunday for years to come. Notre Dame is most likely battling Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Michigan St., Tennessee & Wisconsin. It would be tough losing this one.

Deadrin Senat: Originally committed to Florida St., Scott decommitted and now is open game for the Irish! At 6’1/311lbs, most people think that Senat his reached his ceiling when it comes to physical ability. With ND in mind, that means he’s somewhat of a tweener. He’s not big enough to play 3-4 DE meaning he’s got to be the 3-4 NT in that front or a specialty player that lines up on the inside when ND goes to some kind of 3-4/4-3 hybrid scheme. Apparently Senat shows a great initial burst as a DT and has the strength to knock blockers on their rear, but he sometimes tries to do too much and gets all out of sync. He can collapse the pocket and his disruptive abilities could cause the O-line to put a couple of guys on him. If he could get to 6’1/320-330, it would be very interesting to see what sort of damage he could do, but I’d be willing to be he winds up in a 4-3 scheme. He’s got offers from Auburn, Florida St., Georgia, LSU, Miami-FL, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and West Virginia. I believe all those schools run a 4-3 scheme.

Donovan Munger: The only 3-star DT recruit Notre Dame offered, I like what Munger could potentially bring to the table. He has offers from Auburn, Illinois, Nebraska, NC State, Ohio St., Penn St., Tennessee, Washington & West Virginia so there is definitely some talent there. Rivals lists Munger at 6’4/290lbs and from what I’ve read, Munger is the type of guy who is best suited for being in the trenches between the tackles. He needs to work on his body, but I’m guessing that means he probably could put on a good 20-35 pounds once he gets into a college weight program. At 6’4/320lbs, we are now talking about a very nice sized 3-4 NT at the collegiate level which is paramount in a 3-4 scheme! The downside to Munger apparently is that he thinks his best shot at the NFL is playing on the offensive side of the ball which means he’s a guard. Given what Kelly & Co. has done on the offensive side of the ball in the Class of 2013, Munger isn’t big enough to play there.

Of the 7 players ND has offered, I think Pagano & Latham would be the two best gets. It seems a little thin at DT, but the Irish are pretty well set there. Louis Nix (6’3/330lbs) is only a sophomore meaning ND has 3 more years of him. Tony Springmann (6’6/300lbs) is a freshman. Kona Schwenke (6’4/290lbs) is a junior. Tyler Stockton (6’0/290lbs, junior), Jarron Jones (6’6/300lbs, freshman), and Sheldon Day (6’2/290lbs, freshman) are all in the mix for PT at the NT position. The Irish don’t have tremendous needs for a DT in the 2013 class, but I think landing Pagano & Latham would be solid moves.

Notice that 13 of the 40 players are from Georgia & Texas, yet ND didn’t make an offer to any of these players! The Irish did go into Florida and offer a couple of players. Obviously Hawaii was on their list as well. Defensive tackle isn’t the easiest position to recruit for. Recruiting guys who can play 3-4 NT is even more difficult, and you can make an argument that it might indeed be the most difficult position to recruit given the size requirements. ND did a great job last year identifying a couple of those players (Jarron Jones & Sheldon Day) and getting them to South Bend. The 2013 class is a little murkier especially when you consider only the 7 players ND has offered. This should be really interesting as we go forward in recruiting season. If ND can get 1-2 of the players they have an interest in still not on the board they’ll be doing quite well, especially when you consider the depth chart is solid.

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June 10, 2012 - Posted by | Notre Dame

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