Today's spotlight: defensive end/rush end pledge, Bo Wallace.
Film NotesHas a wide receiver's arms, a detriment in terms of early playing time, but those tentacles contribute to his ability to battle blockers in pass protection -- Wallace presents a tough target for a pass-setting offensive tackle…Chases sideline to sideline with attitude and aggression…All athlete, when can he be a football player at the next level? Raw is the word you're looking for after watching his film…
It's clear he's working at his craft as a pass rusher, but at present, plays too high, doesn't uncoil upon striking the ball carrier as did (2014 freshman) Jonathan Bonner in last year's film reviews…If forced to play early a la (2014 freshman) Kolin Hill, Wallace, in his present frame, will be engulfed by quality offensive tackles. But unlike Hill, Wallace is unlikely to be pushed into rookie action, not after Notre Dame's defensive end/rush end haul of 2014…
Shows good feet in space and his footwork/athleticism allows for recovery after contact…Lacks strength though not 'want-to' at the point…Shows he can use his hands to fend off blocks but is obviously a work in progress in that regard…Covers ground in a hurry (wow) and appears to be an angry player, which will serve him well, because he's going to get punched in the mouth a lot as a young rush end…
Covered kickoffs in high school and the Irish are always looking for inexperienced freshmen to fill that crucial role (sarcasm intended)…He's a "Big Skill" athlete more so than football player, but that's fine, every class needs 1-2 of that ilk…Regularly beat his overmatched foes with quickness off the snap but to his credit, did not often abandon his gap on film, either…Ability to change direction without choppy steps is perhaps his most important trait (considering quickness is obviously present).
Initial concerns after watching film: Rush end is a niche role in a defense that will likely change coordinators during Wallace's time at the school. Can he play in space (a true linebacker) as he aspires to, if forced to? (That's not an overt criticism -- for most evolving athletes, backpedaling and acumen in pass coverage presents an early challenge.) I have little doubt he can evolve/develop into an edge rusher in the present defense.
Key Takeaway As much as you can't coach height, you also can't coach a kid to be fast. But you can develop fast players into many roles, especially those willing to learn as is Wallace.
Too many "tweeners" on a defensive roster is only allowable if the base for a solid front is there. At present, "base" defensive linemen with more than a season of eligibility include Jarron Jones (2 yrs remaining), Isaac Rochell (2 yrs), Daniel Cage (3), Pete Mokwuah (4), Jonathan Bonner (4), Jay Hayes (3), Grant Blankenship (3), Andrew Trumbetti (3), and Jacob Matuska (3). (Plus potentially redshirted current freshman Jhonny Williams, considering his frame.)
That youth-filled base affords so-called tweeners roles to which they can assimilate before adding junior and senior year weight/strength.
Ideal Situation for Wallace in 2015: A redshirt season, and the preponderance of freshmen participators for head coach Brian Kelly in 2014 makes that a likely reality for any incoming competitor in need of a season in the weight room.
Upon ArrivalA look at eligibility among Notre Dame's defensive ends/rush ends when Wallace hits campus prior to the 2015 season:
Potential 5th-year senior Anthony Rabasa: Would be welcomed back as a locker room presence if the program has an 85th scholarship available.
Senior: Romeo Okwara enters his final season of eligibility next fall.
Juniors (None): Isaac Rochell has ideal defensive end (and perhaps DT) skills, be it in a 4-3 or 3-4 front. There are no prototype edge rushers among the 22-player junior class.
Sophomores: Andrew Trumbetti (3 yrs.), Kolin Hill (3), Jhonny Williams (4). Former rush end (in my estimation) candidate Jonathan Bonner (4) grew quickly into a true defensive end's frame.
Incoming Freshmen: Only Wallace.