In the film room...Devin Studstill

Devin Studstill does not have ideal size for the safety position. But he has top-level ball skills, an aggressive nature, and an equally impressive penchant for pursuing the football and filling run gaps.


• Stats: Credited with 54 tackles and six interceptions during his junior year with the Rams.

• Assets: An energetic, fast-twitch athlete with a nose for the football and a very aggressive attitude toward competition. A ball hawk with a natural instinct to stick his nose into everything he can get his hands and/or pads on.

Plays the safety position like a true centerfielder, although shows versatility as a run supporter and blitzer. A knack for high-pointing the football. Instinctual football player. Explosive breaks in the passing game and filling run gaps. Gets into the lower body of ball carriers.

A confident, optimistic player. Exudes energy and aggression. A physical demeanor with outstanding open-field tackling ability. Makes players around him better.

• Room for improvement: A safety with cornerback size. Quicker than he is fast. (Scout lists him with a “verified time” of 4.76 in the 40.)

• Top offers: Notre Dame; SEC: Kentucky; ACC: Louisville, Miami, N.C. State, Syracuse, Wake Forest; Pac 12: None; Big 12: West Virginia; Big Ten: Illinois, Michigan State, Penn State, Rutgers, Wisconsin; Other: Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic.

• Early line: Studstill’s father, Darren, was a quarterback at West Virginia, which has pursued him from the outset of the recruiting process.

“It feels like a home away from home because I know a lot of people up there,” said Studstill of West Virginia. “My dad has a lot of connections, so I know if I go there, I’ll be well taken care of and I won’t miss a beat. I can also play my freshman year because they have a lot of people leaving.”

Home-state Miami also is among the lead pack.

“I like the environment and it’s close to home, so I definitely like that,” Studstill said. “Academic-wise, they have a strong support system and I know a lot of players at Miami.”

Notre Dame gets the next crack at Studstill this weekend as a participant in the second-annual Irish Invasion.

“They’re an academic school and that’s what it’s all about,” said Studstill of Notre Dame to Scout’s Anna Hickey. “They definitely like my speed and instincts at safety. (They like) my ball hawk ability. That’s what they like the most.”

Studstill’s connection to Notre Dame is fellow Palm Beach Gardens product Te’von Coney, an early-entry freshman for the Irish.

“I like the tradition of Notre Dame, the coaches and the academics,” Studstill said. “(Coney) is loving it up there, so I’m excited to check it out.”

Studstill’s plan is to name a top 15 at the start of July, take it down to 10 a week later, down to five a week after that, and then name a top three at the end of July in preparation for official visits and a commitment decision in August.

• ND’s 2016 safety recruiting: The Master List arrow is pointing up for Ikenna Okeke (Smyrna, Tenn.), who is considering the Vols and Stanford along with the Irish. Chacho Ulloa (Corona, Calif.) will attend the Irish Invasion with Studstill and is a legitimate “commitment watch” candidate. Also “invading” Notre Dame this weekend is Jalen Elliott (Chesterfield, Va.), who has offers from Georgia, Auburn, Virginia Tech and Miami, among others.

Other safeties at the Invasion who have been offered by the Irish include: Craig Watts (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Carlos Becker (Kissimmee, Fla.) and Spencer Perry (Bradenton, Fla.), a current Florida Gator commit.

• ND’s 2016 safety depth chart: Elijah Shumate and Avery Sebastian will be gone from the equation by 2016, and Max Redfield will either be a very experienced Irish safety or off to the NFL. Drue Tranquill will be a junior and well established. John Turner and Nicky Baratti likely will be gone with Mykelti Williams and Nicco Fertitta entering their sophomore seasons with three or four years of eligibility.

• Summary: Notre Dame’s safety list expanded greatly in May as the Irish played catch-up. But Studstill’s been on Notre Dame’s radar since the beginning of the recruiting process, and with the Irish Invasion on tap, the Irish are in the lead pack of this race.

Studstill possesses a ton of winning qualities, namely football instincts, a nose for the football and an aggressiveness and energetic attitude that cannot be taught. His lack of size can be detrimental to the safety position, but when you play the football as well as Studstill does, you have a chance to be a playmaker, particularly with his willingness to be versatile and offer a hand defending the run.

The three-star rating is reasonable, but Studstill has a bunch of four-star qualities that could materialize into a real ball-hawking college safety.

Studstill’s list remains long, and until his father’s alma mater – West Virginia – is eliminated from the process, the Mountaineers remain the team to beat. Miami’s proximity also is an impediment for the Irish.

The key is this weekend’s Irish Invasion. There will be a ton of Notre Dame love going on in Notre Dame Stadium and on the new LaBar Practice Complex turf, and with former prep teammate Te’von Coney contributing to a positive equation, this could be the time the Irish sway Studstill’s thinking.

Don’t look for a commitment this weekend because Studstill appears determined to follow his timeline. But the iron’s hot and Notre Dame has a chance to make a strong impression this weekend.



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