In the Film Room: Braxston Cave

Bryan Driskell is a former college quarterback, college coach, and college recruiting coordinator. We've asked Bryan to look at a number of Notre Dame's prospects and give his evaluation on their potential. Today coach takes a look at Braxston Cave.

SIZE/PHYSIQUE
If you like or need comparisons Braxston Cave compares favorably in size as well as style of play to current Notre Dame guard Eric Olsen. Braxston is a squatty player, who at 6-3 and 292 pounds, has plenty of height and mass to play the guard or center position at Notre Dame. With short legs and a relatively long torso, this should serve well for Braxston as his frame gives him a natural physique to play with good leverage. He'll be able to add to his frame as he reshapes his body, which all incoming players must do.

TECHNIQUE
Cave already is a relatively technically sound football player. You often find that in young players who come from good programs like Penn. Braxston begins in a nice stance and plays with a solid base. Rarely do you see Cave off balance or over-extended. He comes out of his stance low, and most often plays with great leverage. He is by no means an elite athlete or super quick, but he does possess solid footwork. At times Braxston won't bring his feet and just lunges in and punch the defender. He shows great effort and technique working levels. His timing is solid and he has good vision up to the linebacker level.

Where he will need work here is when he is ready to engage the defender on the second level. He is able to get away with just being so big and strong at the high school level, but in college he'll have to combine those traits with good footwork and technique as well. This is the only area from a footwork standpoint where he will need some work. Cave has a tendency to get high and narrow as he works up and loses his good base and power. If this doesn't get better he will struggle in college when he is going against much faster, bigger, and stronger players.

There were a couple of occasions where he ended up catching a defender instead of delivering a blow based on the fact he had lost all leverage while working up to the defender. Although he doesn't have the fastest hands, he really shows solid technique. He stays inside on defenders, has great power when he delivers a blow, and makes it very hard for defenders to get away from him. This ability suits interior players extremely well. As a center he snaps the ball well and consistently and is solid in the shot gun.

ATHLETIC ABILITY
Cave isn't an elite athlete but has enough agility to be effective on the interior. His 4.81 shuttle and 31" vertical leap he performed at the San Antonio combine shows he has good power in his lower body. He makes up for his lack of quickness with sound technique, leverage, and great power. As expected with his family background, Cave is a very powerful football player. He shows great strength with both his upper body and lower body. Braxston dominates his opponents and really drives defenders back with both his great first punch and his ability to out-drive opponents. He also plays with a great motor. He fights to the whistle and a few times I saw him play a bit past the whistle. What I didn't see was him being over-aggressive and losing a defender. He plays hard but stays within himself.

Cave uses his upper body strength to knock his opponents back then buries them. Even when he gets beat initially he won't quit and uses his great motor to ride the defender and stay engaged with him. He is plenty strong and will only get stronger. Where he will struggle in college is against quick defenders. I didn't see many clips of him in pass protection. He should be able to make up for his lack of great quickness as a pass protector with good technique, strong hands, and a powerful base. He needs to focus his efforts between now and the day he arrives at Notre Dame improving both his lower body and upper body quickness. He'll never have great quickness, but he can improve enough with work to where it won't be a liability in college. One area where I have concern is in the hips. He doesn't have great hips and at times is a little stiff. This will relegate him strictly to being an interior offensive lineman.

OVERVIEW
Dame really needed to add a couple of interior players in this class and Cave was a tremendous addition. Players who can play multiple positions are always great to have on your football team. He is a mauler of the first degree. He shows ability to be an effective snapper. I believe, however, that his best position is actually guard. He is a nasty player and a mauler, which should fit nicely into the offensive scheme of the Fighting Irish. The pattern I've noticed along the offensive line recruiting is they look for guys who play hard, play nasty, have great motors, and are physical. Notre Dame wants to be a physical football team whether it be running the football or throwing the football. Braxston fits that mold quite nicely. He makes up for his physical limitations with great strength, sound technique, and a great motor. At worst he could be a swing player along the interior. Best case scenario he steps into either the guard or center position after the youngsters from the class of 2006 move on.

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