In the Film Room: Dan McCarthy

We've all heard or read the expression "That guy is a football player." I usually attempt, as best as possible, to avoid football clichés. I could not, however, find a better way to describe Dan McCarthy on the football field. This young man is just a football player.

The first thing that jumped out at me was McCarthy's numbers. I'm usually not a stat guy but his 1910 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns from the quarterback position are impressive. With the ball in his hands the Cardinal Mooney star is an absolute playmaker. Listed at 6'2 and 190 pounds McCarthy has good size, a good frame, and has good length. He is a long strider which gives him good range. He appears to have the type of frame that should allow him to add another 15-20 pounds during his college career. McCarthy will have to get stronger and fill out in order to be successful playing defense in college, but has the frame to support that kind of growth.

As you read the various articles on McCarthy you'll see terms like leader, work ethic, hard nosed, attitude, and winner. Those aren't attributes you can really pick up watching film. But those are absolutely vital when recruiting a football player. But let me be clear here, there is much more to Dan McCarthy than just heart, leadership, and a positive attitude. While he doesn't possess "blazing" speed McCarthy does have very solid speed. One thing I like is that McCarthy is full speed from step one. He's not one of those guys who need a couple of steps to build up speed. He is more quick and smooth than he is fast, which to me is just as valuable at the safety position. You can be a legit 4.4 guy but if you aren't able to react quickly, turn quickly, and then explode to the ball you won't be a very effective safety.

McCarthy is an outstanding athlete. He has very good footwork, as I mentioned before is quick, has smooth hips, gets in and out of his cuts well, and really explodes out his backpedal. He's very light on his feet. There is often a difference between a fast athlete and an explosive athlete. McCarthy is explosive. You don't put up the numbers he put up without being that kind of player. Unless brought down from behind McCarthy is rarely tackled by the first defender. He runs through arm tackles and always gets extra yardage. McCarthy also has tremendous vision. He reads the option well, sees the hole, explodes through it, and has very good cutback ability. It's obvious on film that offensively and defensively he sees the entire football field. This is huge for a safety. Being able to keep the quarterback in your sights and still be able to see what is going on around you is key. As a safety McCarthy shows very good range and the ability to cover a lot of ground in zone coverages.

Not only does McCarthy possess outstanding ability he knows how to play the game. It's apparent watching the Cardinal Mooney tapes that they are a well-coached football team. There isn't much wasted movement on offense or defense with McCarthy. Offensively he stays on the same option track time and again. He then makes his read and explodes through the hole and makes plays. Defensively he shows the same abilities. McCarthy shows good footwork and technique when asked to backpedal and cover. He is out of his pedal quickly and explodes to the football. McCarthy also takes good angles to the football. Not just when attacking a ball carrier but also to a thrown pass. On top of his athletic ability and technique McCarthy also shows to be a very instinctive football player. With his quickness and speed he is able to close in on ball carriers well. He uses those same abilities, plus the ability to read the quarterback, to jump thrown passes as well. McCarthy gets his hands on a lot of passes.

The Youngstown, Ohio native is a fearless football player as well. He throws his body around with reckless abandon on both sides of the football. As mentioned before he'll have to continue to develop physically and get stronger to be effective in college, but he'll bring when he has to. More importantly, however, is that McCarthy shows very good tackling technique. He knows how to wrap up. Even when delivering a shot to a potential receiver he uses good technique to explode through the receiver/ball carrier and takes them down. When given an angle on a ball carrier McCarthy explodes through the player and is very effective as a tackler. Where he needs to improve is his technique when taking on someone head up. At times he gets a bit flat footed and doesn't bring the same power and takes the hit more than delivering the hit. He'll have to improve his technique in this area.

My only question is whether or not he'll be able to cover receivers. I know he can cover tight ends and backs. I've seen him do that. I'm not saying he can't do it, rather, I'm saying I wasn't able to see him do it much on film. So to me it is a question. He has all the athletic ability, footwork, smooth hips, instincts, and size to do so but I wasn't able to see it and don't want to assume it's something he'll be good at.

You don't get offered a scholarship by Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Louisiana State, Penn State, and Oklahoma if you aren't one of the nation's best players. Dan McCarthy is one of the best all around athletes in the country. With his size, speed, quickness, technique, and effort he has all the tools to be a very good college safety. I have been asked several times if Notre Dame gets McCarthy would he be a free safety or a strong safety? Where does Harrison Smith play? What about Sergio Brown? My response is that each of those individuals, including McCarthy can play both spots. I think McCarthy projects best as a free safety but also has the size, explosiveness, and tackling ability to play the strong safety position at Notre Dame. More importantly I think we are seeing where Notre Dame wants to go with the safety position. Ideally in this defense you want both of your safeties to have the ability to cover deep, cover man, and support the run. Having interchangeable players at the safety position gives you much more flexibility in this defense. Along with Harrison Smith and Sergio Brown, Dan McCarthy gives the Fighting Irish that kind of player. Top Stories