When you’re hot, you’re hot, and the Irish are scorching on the recruiting trail.
Notre Dame’s roll coming out of Junior Day (Feb. 11) continued Tuesday on the heels of verbal commitments from cornerback Kalon Gervin and a safety Derrik Allen earlier in the week.
Cole Mabry, a (listed) 6-foot-6, 270-pounder out of Brentwood (Tenn.) High School, became Notre Dame commitment No. 9 in the Class of 2018 when he chose the Irish over offers from Cincinnati, Colorado State, Indiana and Memphis. (Note: Arkansas and Georgia Tech showed interest, but have yet to offer.)
The last school on the offer list – Memphis – has significance as it relates to Notre Dame. Former Tiger offensive coordinator Chip Long, now Notre Dame’s offensive decision-maker, was the man behind the Memphis offer to Mabry.
Obviously, nothing transpires on the offensive line without Harry Hiestand on board, and his approval of Mabry sealed the deal.
Mabry pulled the trigger some two months ahead of when 2017 offensive guard signee Dillan Gibbons chose the Irish during his recruiting cycle.
This is a raw, project-type offensive tackle that needs to make significant strides in his game during his senior season, partly in his physical development and partly with his approach.
He plays with a wide base and uses his hands well. He has a tackle’s frame. He has some agility and can run. He shows lateral movement while preventing defenders from crossing his face and remains busy with his hands. For the most part, he shows balance and stays on his feet. He has a good motor and plays through the whistle.
Those are the building blocks of a solid young player. There’s much to work with once he comes under Hiestand’s tutelage.
Listed at 6-foot-6 – think more along the lines of 6-foot-4½, which is fine – Mabry needs more knee bend and must fight to get underneath blocks. Right now, he’s more of a pusher and wrestler than he is blocker, which works fine on the prep level, but is quickly exposed on the collegiate level.
Mabry has to be careful about latching on to defenders. He usually keeps his hands within the framework of the defender’s pads, but repeatedly wrestling players to the ground puts doubt in an official’s mind.
There’s limited evidence of Mabry knocking an opponent to the ground, which indicates a need for more strength and, above all, leverage. He’ll drive a player into the bleachers, but to what end? Pealing off and blocking a defender who remains in the play may not be as flashy as driving a defender into the cheep seats, but it’s valuable to the overall execution and completion of the play.
He looks to be vulnerable to speed rushers, which shows up more in camp settings than game situations. Quick-twitch defensive ends can rip-move their way through Mabry’s upright blocking style.
The good thing about recruiting tackles is that they can become guards, too, whereas true guards can’t become tackles. So there’s some versatility there.
In order for Mabry to improve his finishing skills, he’ll need to be more of a knee-bender to get underneath the pads of his opponent. He has plenty of push but needs more pop. He needs to begin preparing himself for the next level, which goes beyond running a 190-pound defender into oblivion.
Mabry needs a good two-to-three years in the Notre Dame program before he’ll be ready to contribute on a regular basis. Unless your name is Zack Martin or Ronnie Stanley, that’s about par for the course.
If Mabry can productively employ his high motor, improve his pad level, and continue to add strength and agility to his game, the Irish will have a prospect that can make a regular contribution down the road.