Finding big men that can get after it has been difficult over the years at Notre Dame, but it looks like recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello might have found a player in Everson Griffen.
"With his speed he may be a defensive end. That's their job at Notre Dame and Division I schools to figure out," coach Epley said of Everson with a laugh. "But for us he's a defensive end. He could probably play middle linebacker and everything else here. He's a 4.7-forty player and he looks the part of a defensive end. He's very athletic so you might want him to come off the edge.
"As a sophomore he had 10.5 sacks, but we didn't use him a ton on offense. This year we used him primarily on offense, he was generally our best weapon. We had quite a few injuries this year so we used him all over the field. He didn't have as good of a year defensively as we would have liked and his sack level went down to five and a half, but he really produced for us at running back with about 980 yards on offense. He's 6-3 263 and that's legitimate."
"He power cleans 315 pounds; that was this summer. He benched 340 pounds and squatted 455 pounds. He's the big picture," Epley said. "He's a big physical specimen and a heck of a player. He has a great first step, which is his thing. It's the great first step, the explosion and separation from his offensive lineman. It's very rare if he isn't two yards in the backfield."
Griffen has primarily grown up playing basketball due to size limitations of youth football in Arizona, so Epley is just starting to see the Everson's potential.
"His first year of football was as a freshman," coach Epley said of his standout defensive end. "They wouldn't let him play Pop Warner football…..he was too big to play. During his first year he was kind of tentative. Playing basketball everyone was telling him to play nice. He's not like that anymore – he likes to lay the wood."
Even at this early stage of his development Griffen is being noticed by some of the top programs in the country.
"U-o-f A (Arizona) has already offered him. UCLA has told me he's No.1 or No.2 on their list. ASU says that they want him. We get letters from 100 different places. Notre Dame requested some film and I sent it out for them."
While Griffen doesn't mind carrying the ball for the Owls, he agrees with his coach that his position is going to be on the defensive line.
"I like defensive end. I definitely like defense better than offense." Griffen said with excitement in his voice. "On offense you have to read the play and find the hole. On defense you can just go out there and hit somebody. If you know your assignment you just go after someone. If you're out there you know what you're doing already. It's the aggressiveness.
"I've talked to the U-of-A coach, the UCLA coach and the ASU coach," Everson said when asked if he'd spoken to any college coaches at this early stage. "Florida State has sent me some things. Notre Dame has sent me letters and my coach sent them a tape."
Coach Epley had mentioned that the Irish staff had already been in contact with him, which means that Notre Dame has early interest in Griffen, but that is only half of the equation.
"I would love to play at Notre Dame," Griffin responded when asked if he was interested in the Irish. "I know they have a new coach, Charlie Weis. I like him. I like him a lot. He's a good coach. He coach at New England when they won the Super Bowls. In his first year they're going to be playing in a BCS bowl."
Griffin reports a 3.21 g.p.a