In the film room...Donnie Corley
• Statistics: Caught 47 passes for 1,087 yards with 19 touchdowns as a junior at ML King High School. Also had nine interceptions as a defensive back.
• Assets: A competitive, agile receiver with good size and ball skills. Tracks the football well, using his ability to make twisting catches on balls off target. A long-striding athlete with good hips, a shiftiness to free himself up and balance coming out of contact. Plays strong in terms of breaking tackles and maximizing runs/receptions.
Plays longer than his actual frame. Good bounce in his step. Effective coming out of breaks, showing a seamless ability to transition from route-to-cut. Looks to have good tackle-breaking power potential as he continues to fill out. A red-zone threat because of his size, length and power. Uses body to make plays over defensive backs.
• Room for improvement: Good not great speed. More of a possession-type receiver than deep ball threat, although his ball-tracking skills greatly assist him on deep throws. Looks to have a fairly limited vertical jump in game situations. Body language sometimes indicates that he’s hoping to make the grab with his hands as opposed to believing he will.
• Scholarship offers: Notre Dame. Pac 12: Arizona State; ACC: North Carolina State, Wake Forest; Big Ten: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin; Big 12: West Virginia; SEC: Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt; Other: Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Ohio U., Toledo.
• Early line: Corley’s junior day visit to Notre Dame, coupled with his trip to South Bend for last season’s home game against North Carolina, puts the Irish in the running for this good-sized, versatile receiver who maximizes his skillset.
“They want me,” said Corley of Notre Dame to Scout’s Allen Trieu. “They don’t have a receiver committed in my class.”
Corley’s second trip to Notre Dame was even better than the first.
“The first time I went down there, I had a great time. I was amazed,” Corley said. “This time, I was way more amazed. I had a chance to see the academic part of it, see more of the campus and see the team, and I really liked it. It increased my interest a lot.”
Notre Dame’s main competitors likely will be Michigan State and Michigan, although Corley visited Illinois in mid-March with designs – according to his father – to take a look at Tennessee (he has family in the state), Ohio State (winning and coaches are appealing) and perhaps Penn State.
Michigan State has two former ML King teammates, and since the arrival of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, the Wolverines have become a more formidable recruiting foe. Corley said Michigan has “moved up a lot” since the firing of Brady Hoke/hiring of Harbaugh.
• ND’s 2016 recruiting: The top-rated receiver on Notre Dame’s board is Tyler Vaughns (LaPuente, Calif.), who is considered to be favoring USC. More realistic shots for the Irish – in addition to Corley – are four-star prospects Austin Mack (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Ahmir Mitchell (Egg Harbor City, N.J.), A.J. Taylor (Kansas City, Mo.) and Brad Hawkins (Camden, N.J.). Taylor hails from Rockhurst High School, which has always projected well to Notre Dame.
• ND’s 2016 receiver depth chart: Chris Brown will be out of eligibility, as will slot receiver Amir Carlisle. If Will Fuller can parlay a breakthrough sophomore campaign into a more consistent 2015, there is the possibility he could leave for the NFL.
Everybody else should be back in 2016, including Corey Robinson, C.J. Prosise, Torii Hunter, Jr., Justin Brent and Corey Holmes. Notre Dame’s recent signees Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, Jalen Guyton and C.J. Sanders join the receiving corps this summer.
• Summary: Listed between 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-3 by various sites, it doesn’t actually matter exactly how tall Corley is because he plays with length, he has ball skills and his best years likely are in front of him. He clearly is bigger than the 170-pound listing.
This isn’t a guy that – all things being equal – is the one on your receiving corps that will be the No. 1 man to stretch the field for you. He has good size, he’s shifty in the open field, and he shows some lower body strength to break tackles on the underneath routes. He shows the ability to come out of breaks hard and seamlessly, and then has enough size and ball skills to use his body to out-battle the defender, if not with a great vertical jump.
Michigan State and Michigan likely will be the greatest obstacles for Notre Dame in its pursuit of Corley. The Irish are looking for two, probably three receivers in this class, so spots are limited.
All things being equal, I’d be inclined to hand pick Ahmir Mitchell and Austin Mack over Corley, but again, Corley’s best years likely are ahead of him, and he would give the Irish some C.J. Prosise-type size if not quite the same burst.