Dateline: Feb. 12, 2017
“Because of the early commitment shortly after receiving a scholarship offer from Notre Dame, the Irish must be on guard for interlopers. Michigan and Michigan State will not just accept (Kalon) Gervin’s decision without a fight.”
There were warning signs everywhere. The quick commitment following Notre Dame’s offer. Cass Tech, a school that normally sends its top players to Michigan and/or Michigan State, had been an outlier for Notre Dame commitments.
When Kalon Gervin, the No. 282 prospect in the country and No. 24 cornerback verbally pledged to the Irish in mid-February, it had the makings of a classic Irish de-commit somewhere along the line.
Notre Dame reached that line on Saturday, May 6 when Gervin tweeted his decision to de-commit from the Irish and open up the battle for his services once again.
Thus, as the Irish move forward some nine months before signing day, and with a very definite need for talent and depth at the cornerback position following the loss of Paulson Adebo (Stanford) and Elijah Hicks (Cal) in the final month of the 2017 recruiting class, Notre Dame must recalibrate its recruiting efforts at the cornerback position.
An excellent starting point in the wake of Gervin’s de-commitment is Kyler Gordon from Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett, Wash.
Gordon is a solidly-built 5-foot-11, 176 pounds with playmaking skills as a cornerback, wide receiver and running back.
Gordon attacks the game of football, fearlessly throwing his body around, whether it’s diving into the end zone on a run or after making a catch, blasting his way through a ball carrier, or leaping to make a catch or interception.
As a pass defender, Gordon will press at the line of scrimmage, coerce receivers into taking the path he wants them to take, turn his fluid hips to run with the receiver, and then high-point the pass for the pick. Gordon’s ball skills are top notch.
Gordon is a physical football player who breaks quickly out of his backpedal. He’ll wrap and drive through the receiver. His recovery skills when an offensive player has a step on him are excellent. He breaks down and shows good technique making tackles in the open field. He showed the physical maturity of a major college player as a junior at Archbishop Murphy.
Gordon plays hard every snap. He is a playmaker on both sides of the football with more than 1,100 all-purpose yardage as a junior (802 through the air) and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
He is a flat-footed runner, but runs with long, powerful strides. There are times in press coverage when he could use his hands better to steer the receiver to his benefit. But his hip turn and recovery speed are excellent, which allows him to make up for a lack of pop at the line of scrimmage.
But that’s being picky and an easily correctable trait for Gordon, who is a very well-rounded cornerback/football player in general. He’s athletic and strong while playing with a confident aggressiveness.
SINCLAIR ON GORDON
Nearly the entire Pac-12 has offered Kyler Gordon, who holds a 3.81 GPA. Stanford, Oregon, and Washington are among his top schools in the west. The fact that multiple Notre Dame alums teach at Archbishop Murphy, plus a strong relationship with Brian Polian, should keep Notre Dame alive in this one. He’ll take an official visit to Notre Dame before making his decision.
In a perfect recruiting world, Notre Dame would add Gordon to the cornerback position with Gervin, and the Irish would be in great shape with a dynamic duo, not unlike what appeared to be an Adebo-Hicks pairing a few months ago.
The Irish aren’t there yet with Gordon, who has attracted attention throughout the Pac 12. But there’s a very definite interest from Gordon, who has been offered by Stanford (thus, academics are not an issue at all), Washington, UCLA, Nebraska, Utah, Arizona, Cal and TCU, among many.
If the Irish were to add Gordon to the commitment list, it would be a pretty equal tradeoff with Gervin. But again, the Irish are looking to add multiple talents at cornerback, so even if they were to land Gordon, Gervin’s loss still would loom.
Comparing the two, Gervin uses his hands better at the line of scrimmage, but Gordon is by far the stronger, more powerful of the two. Gervin is listed with a 4.38 time in the 40, but that’s a bit generous. Gordon does not have a 40 time listed, but Gervin likely has the edge, although Gordon is more physically prepared for the next level at the present time than Gervin.
In terms of overall ability, quite frankly, I like Gordon as an overall prospect better than Gervin because of his physicality and strength. Gordon as the boundary corner and Gervin as the field corner would have been the ideal pairing.
Here is Irish Illustrated’s complete film review of Gervin from Feb. 12, 2017.
In addition to Gordon and Notre Dame’s pursuit of cornerback prospects, the Irish had three Blue-Gold Game visitors that play the cornerback position. None had been offered, but all three likely come into play more now that Gervin has left the nest.
Erick Hallett II, a 5-foot-10, 172-pounder from Cypress, Texas, Dominique Hampton, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder from Peoria, Ariz., and Justin Birdsong, a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder out of Stone Mountain, Ga. visited Notre Dame on the weekend of April 22.
They join four-star (No. 85 overall) cornerback/safety Houston Griffith (6-0, 180) from Bradenton, Fla. and four-star (unranked) D.J. Johnson (5-11, 170) from Indianapolis among players on Notre Dame’s short list of cornerbacks. (Note: I’m on record saying Griffith is a better safety than cornerback prospect.)
Look for this list to expand throughout May and beyond.