Saiid Adebo, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete out of Mansfield, Texas, who verbally committed to Notre Dame via Twitter earlier this week, loves to play football.
He’s probably said that to friends, family and coaches, although we have not been privy to it. You don’t need verbal confirmation to recognize the unbridled passion with which Adebo plays football. He’s having a great time between the white lines. His body language screams that it’s a sheer joy to be on the gridiron.
There is no “paralysis through analysis” with the loose-limbed, bouncy athlete, who became Notre Dame’s third Texas commitment in the Class of 2017, joining tight end Brock Wright and quarterback Avery Davis while raising the Irish verbal commitment list to 13.
Adebo, just the second of Notre Dame’s 13 commitments listed as a defensive back – he joins four-star safety prospect Isaiah Robertson (Naperville, Ill.) – chose the Irish over offers from programs such as Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Oregon, Texas, Baylor, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Arkansas.
It’s a bit perplexing as to why his recruitment did not have a more all-encompassing geographic feel to it.
On the football field, Adebo flat-out goes for it. He attacks the game and plays fearlessly. From playing a deep ball in a one-on-one matchup as a defensive back to slicing his way through a defense on one of Mansfield’s many slip screens to Adebo, he lets his natural, athletic instincts take over, and that usually results in something really positive for the Tigers.
As a junior, Adebo had 41 receptions for 730 yards (17.8 average) and 11 touchdowns. He also was credited with 50-plus tackles and five interceptions in 2015. He visited Notre Dame for its junior day the third weekend of March.
Sharing the spotlight with Scout top 15 running back Kennedy Brooks – and from the same high school as former Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor -- Adebo will have plenty of competition within the Mansfield team this fall.
Adebo separates himself and is a star in his own right due in part to his versatility, which makes him a legitimate major college cornerback prospect. Notre Dame reportedly will bring Adebo in as a cornerback with the flexibility to slide over to the other side of the football.
He’s a game-breaking presence on both sides of the football. Although his coverage technique can be a little raw – he works on instincts and has a tendency at times to bite on every little movement and twitch of a receiver – his natural, God-given athleticism and reactions to the football in the air are very impressive.
Adebo is a gazelle defending the pass with the ball in the air. He bounds around the football field effortlessly and has such a natural feel for the proper time to leave his feet for a pass break-up.
Listed at 6-foot-1, he plays longer than that with active, long-reaching arms. Although we don’t know how long his arms measure – that’s likely something we won’t know until if/when he gets in a college all-star game or an NFL combine – it’s quite likely we’ll find that he has above-average reach.
This is an explosive, sudden athlete on both sides of the football. He is a fast-twitch athlete with feet/footwork that don’t do justice to his listed 4.57 time in the 40. Because of his natural, aggressive nature, he’s a physical defensive back who, like everything else, enjoys the contact within the game.
Adebo’s instincts shine through on the offensive side of the football, too. Get the football in his hands in the open field and he’ll anticipate the defensive back’s next move to corral him and he’ll be one step ahead. We repeatedly see him turning defensive backs in circles as they try to be proactive and anticipate where he’s headed. They can’t do it.
Mansfield’s coaches never have to say to Adebo, “Saiid! Play harder!” He plays hard every snap, which is where that unbridled joy of playing the game shines through.
This is a player that needs about two seconds to jump off the screen and be noticed as an athlete different than most. Notre Dame doesn’t attract and land a lot of athletes like this one.
He’s not a finished product. He is raw in his coverage skills at times, but in this instance, it’s not a bad thing. You don’t want to disrupt the fearless, almost conscienceless approach with which he plays the game.
Tighten up the technique, teach him the ropes, but maintain that love for playing the game and this could be a real special athlete/player for the Irish. This is a four-star plus athletic talent. He’s underrated as Scout’s No. 222 prospect.