Film Review: Irish Commitments

With nine commitments already, the Irish appear to be in good shape heading into football season. We expect Notre Dame to land at least a couple more commitments before the season begins, but what about the guys they have committed already? How good are these nine players?

I usually don't like the break down film because I'm no expert. I've watched plenty of film over the past 10 years, but I'd hardly classify myself as an expert. I'm a hack like anyone else just throwing my two cents around, so take this for what it's worth.

While searching for story ideas, I just happened to be watching Robbie Parris on film again, and I decided to take a look at all the commitments (minus Munir Prince and Paddy Mullen as Scout has yet to get their video) to get an overall idea of how I feel the class is shaping up with top targets and athleticism. I have seen Prince on video so I'll comment on him as well.

Watching Rob Parris on film, one has to wonder what Scout.com is thinking. Why a three-star player? What more does this kid have to do? I doubt you'll find another highlight film where a player shows better hands or the ability to go get the football.

I'm guessing the knock on Parris is two things for Scout experts. He wasn't offered by Ohio State, and he didn't have a lot of offers from major programs before he committed. But what he did do was show up to camp at both Michigan and Notre Dame and walked away with an immediate offer. That is enough for me.

Parris has the uncanny ability to leap at just the right time to snatch the ball out of the air at his highest point of elevation. He uses his body very well to shield off his defender and to get separation (if needed) at the last second. He's a very natural receiver—born to play the position—and plays with that flow and gait that all the great receivers have.

Parris also is open constantly, and a lot of times wide open, which tells me he runs very good routes. He gets off the line of scrimmage very well, and yes, he has good speed. I think people discount his speed, but wrongfully so. In the second clip you'll see instances where Parris easily pulls away from his defenders.

Jeff Samardzija is the name thrown around a lot as a comparison to Parris, but he shows me a little bit more ability than Samardzija did on film. Parris seems to be quicker than Samardzija was on film, and he seems to have the ability to move left and right a little bit better than Jeff showed. We also have a lot more clips to see Parris' potential than we did with Samardzija at the time, so keep that in mind. We all know I'm a big Samardzija fan, so that should tell you how much I like Parris on film. Notre Dame got a steal with Parris. I bet he proves that on the field.

I'm also a big fan of Parris' teammate John Ryan. What do I think when I see John Ryan on film? Football player. This guy is a football player.

I love Ryan's endless pursuit and his enthusiasm. He's a 100 percent motor guy that just won't quit. He's scrapping on every play, and he never gives up on a play.

I also like his physical tools as well. He's quick for a guy his size; and he's able to use that quickness to get around tackles and even running backs trying to block him. I also like how he uses his hands a lot to get off blocks, and he's uses all the pass rushing moves well. Ryan also seems to have good ball awareness by getting his hands up when he can't get to the quarterback.

I wish we had more clips of him at tight end because I'd think you'd really see his athleticism, but he sure looks like a keeper. Every coach would love to bottle his attitude and love for the game.

Luke Schmidt is another fine addition to this class. He's got excellent size and speed that could land him at a number of positions. One thing is clear: He's a great athlete.

Schmidt runs hard and seems to have very good vision when running inside. He punishes people, but he also has the feet to weave through the holes finding his way.

He doesn't have the burst of true tailbacks, but once he gets a head of steam going, look out. He does have an extra gear you wouldn't think he'd have until you see it on film.

I wish we had some clips of him catching the ball because I think he could really develop into a nice H-back candidate. Give him the ball a number of times a game rushing, throw it to him a number of times as well, and then use his nastiness to punish would-be tacklers as a blocker.

He really has a lot of potential at a number of positions. I'd love to see what he could do at linebacker as well. Regardless of where he ends up, he's a great athlete that should shine at Notre Dame.

A lot of people say that Chris Wells is the best running back in the country. I don't disagree, but if Wells is No. 1, I think James Aldridge is No. 1A for this style of running back. Watch both films and you be the judge. I do think Wells probably is the best back in the country, but watch both back-to-back and then I think you'll see that Aldridge looks to be at least on the same level.

Personally, I also like Emmanuel Moody as one of the top backs because of his extra gear, but Wells and Aldridge fit right in there.

What's not to like about Aldridge? The guy kills himself working out every day. He's got great explosion through the hole, vision, the ability to move left and right without slowing down, and he has that extra gear needed to turn a 10-yard run into a 70-yard touchdown. He can also catch very well, and his coach says he might be the best QB on the team. Plain and simple: Notre Dame hasn't had a guy with this much potential at running back in a number of years.

I wish we had better film of Kallen Wade, but what we do have, I really like. Wade is the perfect weakside defensive end. He's tall (6-5), with long arms, and boy can he run.

What I also like about Wade is the same thing I like about Ryan—relentless pursuit. Wade plays hard and plays until the whistle blows.

We don't get to see much of Wade against the run, and I'd really like to see some film of that, but as a pass rusher, he pins his ears back and lets it go. He's probably the most athletic defensive end Notre Dame has had commit in quite some time.

Barry Gallup reminds me a lot of Joey Getherall on film. He might not be as fast as Joey, but he certainly has an extra gear. It's hard to know just how fast Barry is because the competition he plays against isn't the best you'll find, but he certainly shows good football speed on the field.

I see a lot of different people when watching Gallup on film. He has excellent elusiveness and quickness to make people miss. He's also got great balance while running the football and seems to bounce of would-be tacklers with ease. He never slows down when making his cuts, which allows him to play fast on the field.

Gallup appears to have excellent hands as well, and the feel for the wide receiver position that a lot of running backs moving to wide receiver wouldn't necessarily have.

He just seems like a natural—just a great athlete making plays all over the field. What he really reminds me of is those great BYU receivers in the old days that didn't look like much physically, but they dominated the game when a quarterback knew how to get them the ball.

I also really like Munir Prince on film. Munir has those short, choppy steps that allow him to explode through the hole in a hurry, and it also allows him to start and stop on a dime. Think Warrick Dunn when thinking about Prince.

Prince has the explosion through the hole that I love to see. The college game is becoming faster and faster every year and running backs have to have that explosion to get through the first line of defense. Prince has plenty of burst and the ability to make people miss once he gets into the second line of defense.

Prince also has good hands, which will be important to him I believe. I see Notre Dame using Prince in a tailback role, but also sending him in motion and lining him up in the slot in the passing game.

I think you'll see Weis and Haywood use Prince in a Warrick Dunn-like role while at Notre Dame. He'll be a jack-of-all-trades type of player that should also excel as a return man for the Irish. He's another key pickup for Notre Dame.

On offense, it all starts with the quarterback, and that quarterback is Zach Frazer. The Scout film isn't the best quality, but I've watched more film of Frazer than what is available on Scout.

I think some people might think Frazer isn't overly mobile and that might be the knock on him. Frazer won't remind people of Michael Vick, but he's no Dan McQuire either.

What Frazer does have is pocket awareness. He sees things breaking down and moves the pocket or rolls the pocket very well. He also has the ability to quickly pick up his receivers while on the run, and the ability and arm strength to get them the ball. He also has enough quickness to avoid the rush and get out of the way.

When he steps into a throw, he has a lot of velocity on the ball. He's got a very, very strong arm.

He also has a pretty quick release, but he does appear to hold the ball a little lower than most like, so it doesn't appear his release is as quick as it should be. Once that problem is fixed; I think you'll see a very quick release. If you watch the film closely, you'll see what I mean.

The other slight worry is the fact that Frazer rarely (if ever) gets under center. I see some good and bad things with the offense he runs.

Because Frazer rarely gets under center, he likely doesn't have the footwork other quarterbacks might have. I can't say either way because we never get to see drop back during the film. This could be a concern, but I know he works on this daily in his workouts.

What I do like about the spread offense is that Frazer has to make decisions constantly on where to throw the football. He's constantly surveying the zone coverage looking for openings in the zone, or recognizing different coverages and he's checking off receivers moving on to the next target.

So many times you see high school quarterbacks lock onto their primary target and they can't seem to find second or third receivers. Frazer's knowledge of the game should help him tremendously when he enrolls. I think his ability to think while playing was as much a part of receiving the Irish offer as his physical skills, and that should serve him well when he gets to Notre Dame.

Overall, I was very impressed with what I saw of all the Notre Dame commitments. All are top targets offered early by Notre Dame, and all should add some much needed athleticism and ability to the Notre Dame roster. Irish fans have to hope the Irish staff will continue to land this caliber of player with the rest of the 2006 recruiting class.


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