Deon McIntosh began his high school career as a wide receiver and defensive back. Now a three-star running back with double-digit offers, McIntosh became Notre Dame’s 18th commitment in the senior class on Monday.
Matt DuBuc, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons, decided to try McIntosh in the backfield during spring practice following his freshman season.
“We were short at running back that spring, so we moved him there and never looked back,” DuBuc said. “He was a natural right away.”
A standout running back and returner at Texas Tech in the early 90’s, DuBuc knows what it takes to make it in an offensive backfield.
“Deon’s a physical back,” DuBuc said. “I see him getting up to 210 pounds once he gets to the training table at Notre Dame. Yards after the catch is where he makes his money. He always falls forward. But he’s a complete back and can do it all. He could probably start at wide receiver because he has the hands and route running for it. We run the Texas Tech air raid, so we throw the ball a lot. Last year he caught the ball more just because of our quarterback situation.”
He may light up on the field, but off of it McIntosh’s demeanor doesn’t take center stage.
“I’ve had him for four years and still haven’t gotten him to say hello,” DuBuc joked. “He’s a very shy kid. He comes from a large family. He’s got a twin sister, an older brother that plays at Miami, and his younger brother is only in the ninth grade, but he’s going to be very good at football and basketball.
“I wish I could say he’s one of those kids that won’t shut up after you get to know them, but he’s not like that. He’s a quiet, quiet kid. Sometimes he comes off as unfriendly, but he’s not. It’s just like pulling teeth to get him to talk.”
Finding a scheme that lets McIntosh showcase his skills and versatility was a priority throughout in his recruitment.
“We knew what was going on in the recruiting process,” DuBuc said. “We wanted to get him in a fit where he could catch and run because he’s so dynamic. It’s hard to key on a guy when he can do both.
“I know Mike Leach well at Washington State. He wanted him, but he knew he could never get him because of location. Louisville and Tennessee really wanted him, but he wasn’t a fit in those offenses. I know Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, and they were his first offer. He had a good relationship with that staff.”
Despite that rapport in Morgantown, the lure of Notre Dame was undeniable. The University’s alumni network had a profound effect.
“His principal went to Notre Dame, and he teaches one class, and Deon takes it,” DuBuc said. “It’s a literature course. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale is a Notre Dame grad. We just have so many Notre Dame people in our community that make an impact. Life after football is tough to beat with a Notre Dame degree, and that’s been right in front Deon for him to see.”
Cardinal Gibbons alumnus and current Notre Dame recruiting analyst Keenan Bailey also plaid a key part in bringing McIntosh to South Bend.
“Keenan was kind of the one that put Autry (Denson) on Deon in the beginning, and Autry did a good job of finishing it off,” DuBuc said. “Brian Kelly’s program only continues to get stronger. He would be almost foolish not to go there.”