Losing out on top national recruits like Chris Donald, Ben Martin, and Chicago star Martez Wilson really stung Irish fans after watching our defense give up 85 points in the last two games. What a difference a year makes. Heck, what a difference five months makes. With the commitment of Steve Filer the Irish coaching staff has hauled in one of the best defensive classes nationally in recent memory. If the Irish are able to land Etienne Sabino to finish out the class there will be no doubt of that. Put Filer at the top of the list of the defensive players when it comes to pure athletic ability and potential.
Filer is a rare player in that he is big and tall but also is very light on his feet. Listed at 6-4 and 220 pounds, and long arms, the Mt. Carmel star seems much bigger. Filer has very good size right now and has a great frame. This young man is going to be huge!
I wouldn't say Filer is an extremely fast football player. He has good speed, but what I like about him so much is his great range, agility, footwork, and overall athletic skill. Filer is a very smooth football player for someone with his size. He is a good change of direction player. He is able to stop and go and re-direct with no trouble. Filer has very good and very smooth hips and has very little wasted motion. He also has a very quick first step. When he is blitzing or stunting he gets into the gap very fast. Where Filer truly stands out is in pursuit. With his size, agility, and quickness he closes in on ball carriers with great quickness. His potential as a pass rusher off the edge is tremendously high. This might be his best attribute as a football player.
You can tell Filer comes from a great program with a great coach in Frank Lenti. Filer plays with very good footwork and solid overall technique. As an inside linebacker he plays with a good base, stays low most of the time, and shows a good ability to shuffle and then get downhill to the ball carrier. Filer shows great range. He's a true "sideline-to-sideline" player and covers a ton of ground. I wasn't able to see Filer in coverage very often. The ability to cover the pass is often times the most difficult challenge for college freshman to grasp. Filer has all the physical tools to be solid as a zone player, the size and athletic ability to cover backs and tight ends man-to-man, and only needs to continue to enhance the technique required to be successful in coverage.
There are a few areas where the Mt. Carmel star will have to improve in order to maximize his athletic ability and become a dominant football player. At times Filer doesn't appear to be the most instinctive player on the inside. He often gets caught up in the trash as he scrapes to the ball carrier. He doesn't take on blocks well enough inside, either. He needs to learn to use his hands better and be more aggressive. Too often against straight ahead run blockers he allows the offensive player to get into him. He takes the blow rather than giving it. This makes it more difficult to fight off the block and be aggressive to the ball carrier. It also allows the running back to cut easier off of you considering you are on your heels and further downfield than you need to be. When he does it right and is aggressive he is hard to stop. But he doesn't do it right enough at this point. This will have to improve in college.
While he tackles with very sound technique, Filer isn't the most explosive hitter. He is able to deliver a good blow based on his size and strength but doesn't blow ball carriers or linemen up the way someone with his size should. The issue is that Filer doesn't explode into ball carriers like he can. He needs to learn to bring his hips with more authority. This is something that can be developed to a certain degree, but I don't think Filer will ever be a destroyer in that regard. That is fine because he can do so many things on the field.
I don't see Filer as an inside linebacker. He is listed there by all the scouting services and plays inside for his high school team. I believe that Filer projects much better on the outside. His greatest attributes are his athletic ability, motor, pursuit, and ability to close. His upside as a pass rusher from the outside is extremely high. While he could develop into a solid inside linebacker, Filer has the ability to develop into a potentially dominant outside linebacker. He'll have some technique issues to work out, and must play with more consistency, but his upside and athletic ability are top notch. This is a great pickup for the Fighting Irish.
In the Film Room: Steven Filer
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