Man in the middle?

Our seventh of 22 (and counting?) "Eye in the Sky" film reviews for Notre Dame's incoming pledges examines interior offensive line prospect Sam Mustipher and how he could improve head coach Brian Kelly's Irish roster over the next five seasons.

Ranked 134th overall and ninth among the nation's offensive guards by, Mustipher could play both guard and center at the next level, though the program's needs seem directed toward the latter entering the 2015 season and beyond.

Below is a film review of Mustipher with an eye toward how his skills project to the center position after current seniors Nick Martin and Matt Hegarty exhaust their eligibility following the '15 season.

Strengths and areas for development

Good feet, shows lateral quickness to engage defenders that elude his initial charge…Gets low and into a defender's pads and relies on leg drive thereafter to finish the block…Dominant as a prep left tackle -- adept in space and able to cave in his edge of scrimmage…Occasionally loses control of a block late after attacking one shoulder pad rather than squaring up but could get away with it at the prep level with his strength and footwork…Rarely too high, but sometimes stops on impact, then regains the advantage…Can overextend on blocks after initially winning, thus allowing a (collegiate) defender the late advantage...

Initial adjustment will (likely) be not only from tackle to the interior but the shotgun snap and working in congress with linemen to his left and right…Moves well at the second level and especially coming across scrimmage on pulling blocks -- the former is essential at both center and guard, the latter at guard should he move there from tackle rather than to the pivot position…

Showed the ability to kick slide and protect the passer but his balance wasn't in congress with excellent footwork displayed as a drive blocker or on the move forward. Of course, with two, if not three tackle candidates among his classmates, another pair (maybe a trio) from the 2013 recruiting haul, and junior Ronnie Stanley eligible for three more seasons, grading Mustipher as a tackle is nonsensical…His compact frame, coupled with comparatively long arms, profiles to interior work at the next level...

Mustipher's intelligence -- football acumen and otherwise -- will ease an expected transition to center for future Irish squads. He'll prior learn from two seniors, both of whom are likely to be fifth-year players in 2015 in Nick Martin and Matt Hegarty, prior to challenging for the starting role in his third season -- an ideal situation for most prep linemen entering the highest level of college football…

Road blocks to playing time

As noted, Notre Dame returns a pair of senior starters at the position in Nick Martin and Matt Hegarty. Mustipher will likely spend two seasons of apprenticeship before fighting for a starting job in the middle of the Irish offensive line.

Reminiscent of… In terms of frame, footwork, and movement, former Irish center, Jeff Faine (1999-2000), albeit without the highest-level mean streak Faine possessed.

Mustipher Highlights

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