• Assets: Long and athletic with speed not normally found in a frame of this size. Wideout athletic skills in a tight end’s frame. A long-striding athlete with the shiftiness of a player typically shorter than his 6-foot-5 length. Has the height to line up on the outside and the elusiveness to weave his way through traffic on the inside.
Natural ball skills and the ability to track the football in traffic. Shows the agility to making twisting/turning catches. Free and easy hips allow him to extricate himself from trouble amidst multiple bodies.
A physical football player as an outside linebacker as well as a blocker at wide receiver or in a flex tight end position. Plows through ball carriers/pass receivers as a defensive player. Shows a natural flow to the football and an inclination to compete and seek contact.
• Room for improvement: More of a jump-ball guy on offense than a precise route runner. Doesn’t always high-point passes that defensive backs on the next level are more apt to knock down. Could show a more consistent maximization of his length. Plays against marginal prep talent, making him a man among boys. Shows some impatience awaiting the snap, causing him to jump the gun at times.
• Schools of Interest: Notre Dame. ACC: None. Pac 12: Arizona, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Washington State; SEC: Mississippi State; Big 12: None; Big Ten: Michigan, Nebraska, Rutgers; Interest: Cal.
• Why Notre Dame: This really started trending upward for Notre Dame during Claypool’s visit for the Irish Invasion, although he arrived at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., wearing a yellow Oregon visor around his neck.
“It’s mainly because I’m in Oregon,” Claypool said.
Ultimately, Notre Dame was his choice.
“I love Notre Dame’s campus,” said Claypool to Scout’s Anna Hickey at The Opening, prior to his verbal commitment to the Irish. “It’s beautiful. The campus…everything. The coaches are great, too, and I feel like I already know them pretty well.”
Asked further about what appealed to him about Notre Dame, Claypool said: “The tradition running through the halls, the school, and how well the campus (made me feel) at home.”
Claypool sang Notre Dame’s praises after his verbal commitment to the Irish.
“I chose Notre Dame because all of the people giving me advice on the recruiting process told me you’ll know when you find the school,” Claypool said. “When I rolled up to Notre Dame I had butterflies.”
Claypool had Michigan, Oregon, Washington and Rutgers in his final five.
• ND’s 2016 wide receiver recruiting: The Irish have been trending upward at receiver since the commitment by three-star Kevin Stepherson (Jacksonville, Fla.) in mid-June, which kick-started momentum in Notre Dame’s favor.
Claypool makes two wide receivers in the fold with the arrow pointing up on Damian Alloway (Fontana, Calif.), a four-star slot prospect, and four-star Javon McKinley (Corona, Calif.), who visited for the Irish Invasion but did not participate in the workout. Another possibility is four-star Marquez Calloway (Warner Robbins, Ga.), who attended the Irish Invasion. Four-star Donnie Corley (Detroit, Mich.) has kept the Irish in the mix at The Opening in Oregon, but remains a longshot.
• ND’s 2016 wide receiver depth chart: By 2016, Will Fuller could be in his last year, or an early departure for the NFL after ’15. Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle will be gone, and Corey Robinson likely will be in his fourth and final year in the program. Torii Hunter, Jr., will be down to two years. Justin Brent and Corey Holmes will be juniors with two years of eligibility remaining while sophomores Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, Jalen Guyton and C.J. Sanders will have three or four years left.
• Summary: Oregon liked him as an outside linebacker prospect while Rutgers envisioned a flex tight end. Notre Dame sees him more as a big receiver in space. None of those are off the table following his verbal commitment to the Irish.
This is an interesting young man. He has somewhat of a “desperate” running gait – ala Michael Floyd – but he’s faster than Floyd if not as skilled as a receiver. His forward lean and aesthetic, long stride make him a threat to take it the distance or fill the lane as a hard-charging defensive prospect. Claypool is raw as a route runner and inconsistent high-pointing passes.
But there are a bunch of tools in Claypool’s toolbox, beginning with an outstanding speed/size combination to go with high levels of competitiveness, physicality, agility and versatility.
Over the long haul, the Irish should be able to line him up anywhere offensively while maintaining the fallback option of turning him into a big, fast, rangy outside linebacker, or even a defensive player off the edge pursuing the quarterback with those long, athletic strides.
At the present time, he’s more of a three-star player in terms of where he is in relation to where he’ll be as a finished product. He easily fits, however, into the four-star category potential-wise as he adapts further into the game and takes advantage of a wide array of athletic skills.