Any Reason to Worry?

Recruiting is always a wild ride and it certainly has been thus far for Irish fans this season. With 18 commitments already in fold, there aren't many players left on the board for Irish fans to obsess over. But there is one position that remains unresolved, wide receiver.

Notre Dame currently sits with one commitment at wide receiver, four-star prospect John Goodman. Earlier in the year it appeared Notre Dame would only take two wide receiver prospects, but as the recruiting season has unfolded, it now appears there's a good chance the Irish coaching staff could take up to three. Knowing that most fans are getting somewhat restless as this is the one position where Notre Dame doesn't have pure numbers at this point. I think Irish fans have to remember that the need was two. They'll take three because they may have the opportunity to grab another elite player—something to keep in mind

I decided to watch some film again of a good number of top wide receiver prospects this season, both players ND is interested in and have a shot at, and some they don't. I wanted to get a feeling for who the best prospects were in the country at the position, and where Notre Dame's prospects stack up against some of the better players. I was excited by what I saw.

The best player I saw on film at wide receiver this year in my opinion is A. J. Green. Green is listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, and from what I could tell on film, that looked to be pretty accurate to me. Why Green? He's the best athlete I saw. He has all the tools to be an outstanding receiver in college and beyond. He has excellent size and outstanding speed. But what sets him apart is his lateral movement and the ability to make people miss to go with that type of size and speed. He reminds me of a combination of Randy Moss and Roy Williams. He'll go up and grab any ball like any tall receiver, but he also has the speed to stretch the field vertically. I was very impressed with Mr. Green.

The next player I watched on film was Julio Jones. Many have Jones ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 wide receiver in the country. ESPN has him as their top overall player.

Let me clarify my comments by saying this wasn't the best quality film, and it appeared the camera shot was quite a distance away on a lot of clips, but I just didn't see what many others seem to see. Don't get me wrong, he's an outstanding prospect, but I'm not sure he's head and shoulders above anyone else. He's a big kid with good speed, but I didn't see the same type of speed as I saw with A.J. Green. I also didn't see the ability to make people miss like A.J. Green. He is physically put together very well, he makes great catches, but I wasn't blown away by him. Definitely a high four or even five star guy, but I just didn't see him being in the same league as A.J. Green. He reminded me a lot of a quicker/faster Maurice Stovall, which obviously is a nice compliment.

Funnily, I watched Michael Floyd right after watching Julio Jones and I kept thinking, if Jones lived in Minnesota and Floyd lived in Alabama, you'd most likely see Floyd ranked higher. They're very similar players. I really like Mike Floyd on film because he uses his body so well. He's a fantastic athlete. He has good speed, better speed than people think. What I really like about Floyd is his explosion when he jumps. He gets up very quickly to snatch the ball out of the air. He reminded me a lot of Herman Moore with his ability to get up so quickly. Larry Fitzgerald would be another guy, but I think he has more upside than either of those players because he seems to have more athletic ability and the lateral movement to avoid defenders with the ball in his hands.

Another receiver I liked on film was Daryl Stonum. I liked Stonum because of his excellent speed. He appears to be on the same level as Green when it comes to pure speed. He gets off the line quickly and can make people miss. He looks thin though. He looks to be about 170 pounds, and the question will be if he can keep that speed while adding another 20-30 pounds. He reminded me a lot of former Irish player Javin Hunter on film or those skinny Miami receivers of yesteryear. He doesn't show to be that natural wide receiver you see in Green, Jones or Floyd, but there's no question he'll be a force once he arrives at Michigan.

Another player I was impressed with was Brice Butler. I think he's an excellent prospect. He's not as tall as some. He's not as fast as some. He is an excellent football player. He's very well coached and runs excellent routes. He gets up after the football and makes the extraordinary seem ordinary. He's a real natural wide receiver with excellent hands, good speed, and the ability to make big plays. I bet this kid plays as a freshman no matter where he ends up because he's so well-coached. He'll be the most ready to play I believe.

I then watched Jeremy Brown on film once again. I came back with the same thought I've always had—excellent football player. He can do so many things on the field. He has as much speed as Stonum, but he's not as big. He has that innate ability to make many, many people miss. He showed nice hands in the clips I saw. He ran pretty good routes. He's an excellent prospect and football player. The only question in my mind is size. Can he be an every down player at wide receiver? I don't know, but he showed me much more speed, quickness, and ability to lose defenders than anyone on the current roster. I just can't see how anyone could pass him up because he is so versatile.

Lastly, I watched Notre Dame's current commitment at wide receiver, John Goodman. Once again, I came away extremely impressed. It seems John just doesn't get the credit he deserves, even from some ND fans. Everyone knows I liked Jeff Samardzjia, but Goodman is a better athlete at this stage than Samardzija was. It's true. I really believe that. He has excellent quickness and burst, and what sets him apart from Samardzija is his ability to makes people miss. He has excellent hands, excellent quickness, and the burst to pull away from people. He will find the ball in traffic just like Samardzija, and he gets up quickly once the ball is in the air. He has a real, natural feel for the game. He also has football speed. What I mean by that is he runs faster than what he'll time. Just watching his film again reminded me that Irish fans need not worry about wide receiver. He's got all the tools to be a great one at Notre Dame. The Irish only need to find one more with the same type of talent, which they most likely will.

Is there a conclusion to this madness? Not really. I was just bored on a Sunday so I started watching film. I just wanted to see if there was any need to worry about Notre Dame only having one receiver committed at this point. I really don't think there is any reason to panic after watching Goodman again. I invite you to watch John again and I'm sure you'll see the same thing I do.

All the receivers I looked at are least four-star guys in my mind—some higher than others. There's A.J. Green, and then there's the rest in my mind. They're all fantastic players who will most likely be stars at the college level. I liked Green because he has the total package----size, speed, and the ability to make the spectacular plays. He also will make a lot of people look stupid when he has the ball in his hands.

Everyone else had most of those attributes with a question mark at some place in their game. With Jones it's the ability to make people miss. With Floyd it's the extra gear. With Stonum it's polish and size. With Brice Butler is probably the extra gear. With Brown it's definitely size. With Goodman it's a little bit of speed and competition.

Regardless, they're all great players. Notre Dame just needs to land one left on the board and they'll be just fine at wide receiver.

Note: I did watch some film on Jonathan Baldwin, another prospect high on ND's list, but it wasn't the best quality, and I really couldn't make a solid judgment on him because of the film quality I had to work with. I do think he's an excellent prospect based on the limited film I saw. Top Stories