Michael Golic, OL, 6-5, 265, ***, West Hartford (Northwest Catholic) CT
All Irish fans recognize the name of Notre Dame's first commitment of the Class of 2008. His father played at Notre Dame. His uncle played at Notre Dame. Now Michael Golic, Jr. will get to play at Notre Dame. But Golic Jr. is more than a legacy recruit. He has some game as well.
At this point in his career Golic is undersized and lacks strength. But standing next to him at the Army All-American game helped me feel more comfortable about Golic's ability to add weight. In time I see Golic having the size and strength to play at Notre Dame. If his size and strength catches up to his ability he could be a good player. Golic is an athletic youngster with great technique. As a center at Northwest Catholic, he shows very good quickness picking up twists and stunts. He comes off the ball hard and works well on the second level.
Golic also has long arms and snaps the ball quickly. During the week of the Army game he was very consistent with his shotgun snaps. Golic also was the long snapper during the week and was impressive. He gets the ball back to the punters and kickers with accuracy and nice zip.
#49 Ethan Johnson, DE, 6-4, 265, *****, Portland (Lincoln) OR
Ethan Johnson's signing didn't create the buzz it should have. It's been so long since he joined the fold that many Irish fans seemed to have forgotten just how big of a pickup this is for Notre Dame. I consider the signing of Michael Floyd and Ethan Johnson to be the two best pickups for the Irish. Not only is Johnson a tremendous football player, but he also plays a position of immense need for Notre Dame.
You won't find any defensive end in the country with a quicker first step than the Lincoln High standout. What's even more impressive is that agility comes with a 6-4, 265-pound body. Johnson is a dominant defensive end prospect. He, along with Daquan Bowers and R.J. Washington, is one of the nation's premier defensive end prospects. Johnson is strong at the point of attack and uses his hands very well to get off blocks. It's very difficult for offensive players to stay engaged with Johnson. He does a great job of disengaging blockers and making a play on the ball.
Johnson also plays with a great motor. He is one of those players who never stops hustling and never quits on a play, even if it is going away from him. Johnson also plays with very good pad level. He comes off low and uses his leverage, powerfully lower body, and hands to consistently beat his opponents. As he gets in better shape and gets healthy he has all the tools to be a truly dominant defensive tackle in the 3-4 defense.
#208 Sean Cwynar, DE, 6-4, 283, ****, Woodstock (Marian Central) IL
Sean Cwynar is the second early enrollee in this class. This is great for Cwynar. While he is a big and strong kid he needs a lot of work, being able to get in for the spring greatly increases his chance of earning playing time as a freshman.
As I mentioned before Cwynar is a big and strong prospect. He was dominant as an offensive lineman in high school and played end on defense. Cwynar projects as a strong-side end on the Irish defense. After a rough start Cwynar impressed at the Army All-American game. He showed a much more consistent get off during the week. One knock I've had on Cwynar is that he doesn't always get a great jump off the ball. The Marian Central standout improved that from his senior season and into the Army game. If he continues to improve in this area he will be an even better football player.
Cwynar has a great motor. He never stops hustling and does a good job getting into the offensive backfield. I like his ability to disengage blockers and make plays on the ball carrier. While he is a solid athlete for a 283-pound player he won't overwhelm people with his athletic gifts. But what he makes up for average agility with outstanding size, strength, and the great motor that I discussed earlier. During the Army week Cwynar also showed a very nice spin move that he uses against the run or pass. He should fit in well as a 3-4 end for the Irish. Cwynar is one of the freshmen the Irish really need to be able to jump into the rotation for the 2008 season.
Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, 6-4, 225, ***, Weatherford (HS) TX
Kapron Lewis-Moore was a pleasant signing day surprise. Lewis-Moore is also a very intriguing prospect for the Irish. While his body seems to say he will be an outside linebacker, his skill set seems to say he will be a defensive end. The good thing for Lewis-Moore is that he appears to have the frame to eventually grow into a defensive end for the Irish. The Weatherford, Texas native has very long arms and a big frame. Although listed at 225 pounds, he seems somewhat thin. That leads me to believe he will get much bigger over the next few years.
Lewis-Moore isn't a great athlete. He needs to learn to come off the ball quicker, stay low, and gain more ground. He has a tendency to take too many steps in a short area, which prevents him from eating up space at the snap. This shows how raw of a prospect he is at this stage in his career. But it's something that can be improved upon.
Two things stand out about Lewis-Moore. One is the fact he gives great effort. He never quits on a play and is always chasing the ball carrier. The second is that he uses his hands well. As he gets bigger and stronger this will allow him to fend off blockers and be a strong point of attack football player. His best football is clearly ahead of him.
#246 Brandon Newman, DT, 6-1, 305, ****, Louisville (Pleasure Ridge) KY
I have no problem admitting when I am wrong. When Brandon Newman committed to Notre Dame I met that news with a sense of apathy. I thought he was a nice fit at a position where we needed bodies. But to me, based off the film I saw, he wasn't much more than that. Just a body.
Boy was I proven wrong! After spending a week watching Newman practice and play in the Army All-American game I was very surprised to see Newman often dominating the opposition. His Thursday practice performance was especially satisfying to me. Newman spent most of the day in the East offensive backfield. At barely 6-1, Newman has a natural low center of gravity. While he gets high as he gets tired, he uses his size to his advantage. At 305 pounds he also has the size and girth to hold up at the nose guard position. As he gets in better shape, something he must commit himself to, he will become even more solid at the nose position. As he wears down he loses quickness and stops his feet. This allows linemen to eventually drive him back.
Newman has a good first step and is quite strong. He does a good job of getting into blocker and getting a push. The Louisville native also does a good job of shooting gaps when asked to and is quick enough to disrupt the interior line. His game is a great match for what Notre Dame asks their nose guards to do. I'm very happy with the addition of Brandon Newman.
Hafis Williams, DT, 6-4, 295, ***, Elizabeth (HS) NJ
There isn't a lot of film to base an opinion off of. What I did see from the limited film I saw was a very big young man. Williams is a very thick young man. He shows a good initial burst off the line and a nice motor. That's really all I was able to gather from the film I saw.
#56 Darius Fleming, OLB, 6-2, 230, ****, Chicago (St. Rita) IL
Another player who had a big week during the Army All-American game was Darius Fleming. He parlayed a strong showing at the game, combined with an outstanding senior season, into a higher Scout.com ranking. Fleming played defensive end in high school but will play the outside linebacker position for the Irish.
The Chicago native has a very good body. He's a solid 230 pounds and has long arms. He gets off the ball super fast. He has one of the best first steps in the country. He wreaks havoc off the edge with his speed. Fleming also shows a good assortment of pass rush moves for a high school player. He will use his speed to beat blockers, he will bull rush, he has a good spin move, and is able to rush wide and dip underneath to get to the quarterback.
Fleming is also strong for his size. He uses his strength and long arms to easily shed high school blockers and devour ball carriers. It won't be as easy in college, but Fleming should be very good in this regard. One area where he will need work is in coverage. As a defensive end in high school Darius wasn't asked to do much in coverage. Considering he will be working on the outside this will create a steep learning curve for him early on. Once he improves in this area he has a chance to be an outstanding player for Notre Dame.
#72 Steven Filer, ILB, 6-4, 220, ****, Chicago (Mount Carmel) IL
Steven Filer combines with Darius Fleming to give the Irish arguably the two best players out of Illinois. Filer comes from the powerhouse Mount Carmel program. This tells me he is going to be well coached and have a good knowledge of the game. This should help Filer early on as the inside linebacker position at Notre Dame is not an easy one to master.
Filer has the kind of body and athleticism that the Irish don't currently have on their roster. Many fans talk of wanting bigger and rangier guys in the middle. Filer is that kind of player. While he doesn't always show great instincts, once he gets moving Filer covers a lot of ground. When he sees what is going on he flows hard and with good angles to the ball carrier. Filer is a very fluid player for someone his size. He's athletic and strong. When he commits to getting up-field he is hard to stop. He has a good first step and explodes through ball carriers. As he learns to shed blockers more effectively he'll be a very good run player. He needs a lot more work as a pass defender.
Filer has the body and athletic ability to play as a freshman. Playing the inside linebacker position requires a lot more mentally, requires good technique, and good instincts to really be effective. As Filer learns as a player and develops these attributes he will find himself playing more and more for the Irish.
#156 Anthony McDonald, ILB, 6-3, 220, ****, Sherman Oaks (Notre Dame) CA
As I mentioned with Filer, Anthony McDonald is another player that has a body and game that is sorely lacking for the Irish. McDonald is a tough, hard-nosed, and physical football player. He's also very instinctive from his inside linebacker position. One thing that helps the Notre Dame High standout is he comes from a 3-4 defense. This should help his learning curve.
McDonald doesn't get enough credit as an athlete. While he won't win many foot races, McDonald does have very good agility and sideline-to-sideline capabilities. On top of that he has very good instincts and reads well. This allows him to make up for any lack of pure speed. He will need to learn to play lower at times but has very good fundamentals for a high school linebacker. With his strength, range, and instincts he projects very nicely to the "Mike" linebacker position at Notre Dame.
Again, McDonald has the size, strength, and athletic ability to play as a freshman. But like Filer, has much to learn about the finer points of the position before he'll be ready to contribute on a regular basis.
David Posluszny, ILB, 6-2, 214, ***, Aliquippa (Hopewell) PA
David Posluszny is another player that doesn't have much film available. We all know that Posluszny comes with a good pedigree. For those who don't know, his older brother is former All-American, Penn State standout, and current Buffalo Bill Paul Posluszny. What I did see on film is that Posluzny is very athletic. Although he's a bit undersized, he runs very well and isn't afraid to get physical in the run game. He has battled injuries during his prep career, which is a concern, but he's an athletic football player.
#121 Dan McCarthy, S, 6-2, 190, ****, Youngstown (Cardinal Mooney) OH
What has made Dan McCarthy such a great prospect is something he won't do much of in college. That is carry the football. As an option quarterback the Cardinal Mooney star is one of the nation's more explosive offensive players. Over the past two seasons McCarthy has rushed for over 3,200 yards and scored 36 rushing touchdowns. He also threw for over 1,400 yards and an additional 15 touchdowns.
McCarthy is a very good athlete. He possesses good speed, outstanding agility, and from the safety position shows very good range. McCarthy is a long-strider and covers a lot of ground. He's also a very instinctive football player, whether it be as a quarterback or a safety. Over the last two seasons McCarthy has also racked up over 200 tackles from his free safety position.
In the pass game McCarthy is able to read quarterbacks and breaks on the ball quite well. In the run game he comes up hard, fast, and isn't afraid to lay the boom on ball carriers. He also is a high energy and an effort player who is always chasing the football. On a team with several high level Division I signees, McCarthy stood out the most. The only question on him is how quickly and how well he will recover from a neck injury that kept him out of the state championship game. That could be the only thing that keeps McCarthy from being a very good college safety.
#170 Jamoris Slaughter, CB, 6-1, 180, ****, Tucker (HS) GA
Jamoris Slaughter is a very intriguing prospect. For his Tucker High School team Slaughter was an aggressive, hard-hitting, and ball-hawking safety. His Tucker defense dominated their opponents in reaching the state championship game. Often times you would find Slaughter coming down almost as a fourth linebacker and defending the run. It's interesting that the Irish are recruiting him to play cornerback.
Athletically Slaughter is as good as anyone in this class. The 6-1, 180-pound Slaughter has very good speed, quick feet, and very smooth hips. He hasn't been asked to use those skills as a cornerback yet, but from what I have seen I think he'll be able to make the transition athletically. Learning the techniques is another story, but I'm hopeful.
Slaughter is a very instinctive young player who has a great nose for the football. Whether it be in coverage from his safety position, or supporting the run, he always seems to be around the football. He showed good closing ability with the ball in the air and if a receiver is hung up he will punish him. Slaughter's biggest adjustment will be learning a brand new position. But his athletic skills and physical style of play lead me to believe he will be able to transition to his new position.
#172 Robert Blanton, CB, 6-1, 175, ****, Matthews (Butler) NC
Notre Dame fans looking for more swagger need look no further than Robert Blanton. Blanton has enough attitude for several players. I mean that as a compliment. Blanton took on all challengers during the week of the Army All-American game. The East coaches had him playing all over the field. He worked at both safety position and at cornerback. This shows the versatility Blanton brings to the fold, but his best position is clearly on the edge as a cornerback.
Blanton is thin at 175 pounds but is very physical. He has very good natural power and explodes through ball carriers. He sniffs out screens well, rips through blockers, and seems to really enjoy contact. That will be a welcome addition to the Irish cornerback position. Blanton also isn't afraid to come up and press. This is one area, however, where his game needs work. Blanton tends to over extend himself at times and needs to refine his press ability. But when asked to play a softer man coverage he excels.
Many people will question his speed. He isn't the fastest guy around but his speed is good enough. He makes up for pure speed in quickness, smooth hips, and instincts.
The Butler high school star also has tremendous instincts. He is not only able to read quarterbacks, he also shows an advanced awareness of routes as well. He gets a great jump on routes, which allows him to get a great jump on the pass. This leads to moments where he gets beat on double moves, but you can coach him up on that. Blanton has the attitude, physicality, and athletic ability to be a very good cover cornerback in college.
Coach D's Breakdown - Part II
IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories
The Final FiveThree of Notre Dame’s “most difficult” opponents as projected during the pre-season remain. Virginia Tech looms as the most talented, cohesive opponent among the last five.
Fresh Starts: Just how young are Irish?Brian Kelly has been pitching this Notre Dame team as the program’s least experienced since 1972. But is this also Kelly’s youngest squad in terms of freshman starters?
Commit Recap: Adams sets recordDavid Adams will go down as one of the best ever at Pittsburgh Central Catholic after breaking the all-time tackles record. Meanwhile, Avery Davis turned in another hyper-efficient…
Status Reports: Irish Defensive LineThe seventh installment in our series of mid-season evaluations examines Notre Dame’s roster with a look at each individual’s status entering the bye week. Is he ascending? Has he…