Jonathon MacCollister, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive lineman from Bishop Moore Catholic in Orlando, Fla., has the type of body Notre Dame needs along its front line as the Irish move forward with the recruiting class of 2017.
Appropriately listed as a three-star prospect, it’s interesting to note a couple of things about MacCollister.
One, Scout lists him as the No. 80 offensive tackle in the country. Two, he chose Notre Dame as a strong-side defensive end over Ohio State and Tennessee with other notable offers from Auburn, Clemson, Miami, Michigan State, Oregon and UCLA. Three, Ohio State was recruiting him as a tight end prospect. (Note: In-state Florida State and Florida did not offer scholarships.)
The scholarship list shows you the respect and versatility that MacCollister offers as he enters his senior season at Bishop Moore. There is plenty of video of MacCollister playing tight end, offensive tackle and anywhere along the defensive front, which makes for some interesting possibilities.
This is a foundation piece along the line of scrimmage. He is a poor man’s Ethan Johnson/Isaac Rochell wrapped into one, likely without quite the upside of those four-star prospects coming out of high school, but with an equal desire of the aforementioned Irish defensive linemen to be at and committed to Notre Dame.
If MacCollister has a distinguishing characteristic, it is the frame and strength barrier he offers up front. He’s very Rochell-like when it comes to holding the point of attack. He engages quickly, which forces right tackles – his best position is strong-side end – to account for him off the snap.
Technically, he starts from a low, flat-back three-point stance with a nice forward lean and a penchant for getting a consistent thrust on offensive linemen. He has good push up front if not a particularly distinguishing, overwhelming athletic characteristic. He uses his hands effectively, although he’s not a guy who necessarily is going to line up and beat a college offensive lineman with a nifty pass-rush move.
The greatest challenge facing MacCollister is to become better at getting off blocks, getting up field and making plays on the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. That skill will not come easily to him.
When he effectively pressures the quarterback off the edge, it’s usually a case of gaining a leverage advantage as opposed to an athletic move. His strength allows him to prevent most prep offensive linemen from crossing his face, and thus, puts him in position to set the edge. He will bulldoze his way to the quarterback more than he’ll beat someone to a spot.
He showed quite well in Notre Dame’s pass rush drills circling the ring, which displayed his quickness, mobility and some cut-the-corner skills. It’s a promising sign to see a big-framed kid like this show knee-bending qualities.
MacCollister would not fall into the category of difference-maker per se, but he is a sturdy building block up front with a worker bee attitude/frame of mind. He looks like a kid who is going to come to play 60 minutes and test the man opposite of him physically, mentally and emotionally.
Because he is the type of defensive end that will physically set a barrier, he almost undoubtedly will remain on that side of the ball. It could be three-technique, although Brian VanGorder likes strong, sturdy strong-side defensive ends a la Rochell and freshman Khalid Kareem.
MacCollister, however, would be an interesting offensive tackle or guard. His physicality plays well on that side of the football, and since he’s a pretty natural knee-bender, his power comes from his lower half first and foremost.
This isn’t the kind of player who’s necessarily going to take Notre Dame into the Promised Land. But he can help get them to the door and continue to give the Irish a chance to win the physical battle at the line of scrimmage, which is how you win double-digit games and play on New Year’s Day.
Check out his highlights from the Irish Invasion: