• Name: Arrington Farrar
• Height/Weight: 6-1, 195
• Position: Safety/Outside linebacker
• Hometown: College Park, Ga.
• High School: Woodward Academy
• Assets: A longer-than-listed athlete with a combination of outside linebacker/safety skills. An aggressive, attacking defensive player who obviously relishes playing the game and doling out physical contact.
Squares up and drives through ball carriers/receivers. Aggressively flows to the football and attacks. Wraps up ball carriers very well. Long strides allow him to close ground on ball carriers quickly. An active football player who carries himself as if he wants to be involved in every play.
A versatile athlete in that he can come off the edge as an outside linebacker or play an in-the-box safety position. Has the natural assets to be an off-the-edge rusher. Outstanding length allows him to reach plays many can’t get to. Can play an integral role on kickoff coverage or blocking placekicks off the edge.
• Room for improvement: What is his best position? Long-term, it’s probably outside linebacker, which makes one wonder if safety ultimately is the right fit. Because of his length, his backpedal can be a little deliberate. Does he have the skill set to fit safety play, or will he out-grow it?
• Schools of interest: Notre Dame; SEC: Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Vanderbilt; ACC: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State; Pac 12: Stanford; Big 12: West Virginia; Big Ten: Minnesota, Wisconsin.
• The latest line: Farrar seemed dead set on taking his skills to Stanford, joining other Woodward Academy graduates Jordan Watkins and Henry Anderson, a pair of defensive linemen who found their way to Palo Alto.
But after Woodward Academy conducted a formal announcement in August of 2013, Farrar ultimately backed away from Stanford. Now, about a week-and-a-half from signing day, Farrar appears to have his choices narrowed down to North Carolina and Wisconsin – where he’s visiting this weekend – as well as Penn State and Notre Dame, who are vying for a visit next weekend.
Farrar could visit Penn State on the 30th and still make it to Notre Dame during the week, or vice versa. Irish coaches Brian VanGorder and Scott Booker were in Farrar’s home Thursday night, and by Monday, Jan. 26, Notre Dame should know if/when Farrar will come to South Bend.
• ND’s 2015 safety target number: Four
• ND’s 2015 safety recruiting: The activity as far as safety recruiting really has picked up now that long-committed Prentice McKinney (Dallas, Texas) will matriculate somewhere other than Notre Dame. He recently announced North Carolina as his new school of choice.
Solidly in the fold are Mykelti Williams (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Nicco Fertitta (Las Vegas, Nevada), although Williams is a bit undersized and Fertitta is, to be realistic, more of a special teams performer. Ashton White (Forestville, Md.) is a cornerback with safety skills, but measures less than 6-foot-0.
Other possibilities include: Justin Reid (Geismar, La), an exciting prospect who is set to arrive at Notre Dame Friday for an official visit, Nathan Meadors (San Bernadino, Calif.), who recently visited Notre Dame, and Frank Buncom IV (San Diego, Calif.), who made the trip to South Bend in October. Gary Jennings (Stafford, Va.) looks like a lock for the home-state Cavaliers with a promise of a shot at wide receiver. Farrar is expected to visit Wisconsin this weekend.
Scout’s/Irish Illustrated’s Anna Hickey is reporting that the Irish have expressed an interest in 6-foot-3, 190-pound three-star safety prospect McKinley Whitfield from Spiro, Okla.
• ND’s 2015 safety depth chart: What was once a well-stocked position has become pretty threadbare. Starters Max Redfield (two years of eligibility) and Elijah Shumate (one) return, which is comforting since Austin Collinsworth is out of eligibility, Nicky Baratti is physically unable to perform, Drue Tranquill (three years) is coming off a torn ACL and is a somewhat precarious fit at safety anyway. Eilar Hardy – with a fifth year of eligibility -- is expected to transfer upon the conclusion of the spring semester.
Fifth-year senior Matthias Farley remains a possibility at safety, although defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder prefers him at the nickel. Another option is junior-to-be Devin Butler, who could shift to safety from cornerback if sophomore-to-be Nick Watkins and freshman Shaun Crawford emerge as solid backups behind expected starters Cole Luke and KeiVarae Russell, who is slated to return from exile this summer.
• Summary: Of the dozen or so Irish recruits still on the board, one of the most difficult to pick a final destination for a week-and-a-half before signing day is Farrar. Heck, it’s not even certain at this stage if he’ll visit Notre Dame and/or Penn State, let alone when he might take those treks.
As for evaluating his game, I believe Farrar’s long-term best position is closer to the line of scrimmage, specifically, an outside linebacker role. An in-the-box safety is a good role for him as well. It’s not that he can’t be a safety on the next level, but when you’re looking at best fits a few years down the road, this looks like a 225-pound outside linebacker more comfortable coming up and converging on the football than a rangy safety working out of a backpedal a good portion of the time.
That being said, the Irish would love to land a last-line-of-defense safety with this kind of length and range. Notre Dame needs safety-types and he could help in that capacity in the short term. If over time, the Irish were to land Farrar and decide that his greatest upside is at OLB, then they could recruit accordingly.
Of course, this is very speculative at this point because the Irish aren’t even assured of a visit. Farrar’s Thursday night pow-wow with Brian VanGorder and Scott Booker may have narrowed the gap, and if a kid is looking for a path to playing time, few are clearer than the one offered by Notre Dame where there will be just two healthy, full-time safeties on campus this spring.
Bottom line: this is a physical defensive football player with excellent length and upside. Let’s put it this way: if Drue Tranquill can play safety for the Irish, so, too, can Farrar. If outside linebacker is his destiny, he has the physical capabilities to make that work as well.
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