Coveted defensive tackle recruit Daniel Cage has decided to play college football at Notre Dame after receiving plenty of interest from around the country.
CSN Chicago passed along word of Cage's decision Wednesday:
Notre Dame's defensive line got a major boost Wednesday morning when three-star defensive tackle Daniel Cage (Cincinnati, Ohio) faxed in his national letter of intent to the Irish.
The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Cage was favored to commit to Michigan State, but a strong push late in the process by defensive line coach Mike Elston and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder helped sway him toward South Bend. The switch from Bob Diaco to VanGorder at defensive coordinator also worked in Cage's favor, as Diaco didn't offer him a scholarship but VanGorder did, Cage told Irish Illustrated last month.
Cage has all the tools to become a solid run-stopping tackle at the next level. A combination of size (6'3", 295 pounds), strength and first-step quickness helped him shine at the high school level and should carry over into his collegiate career.
The Ohio native was given a 4-star rating by 247Sports' composite rankings. Despite that high billing, he ranked outside of the top 20 at the position due to a very strong incoming class of defensive tackles. That doesn't take away from his upside, though. Cage is still the 24th-best defensive tackle in the country and the 14th-best prospect from Ohio, according to the rankings.
One thing to watch closely as Cage makes the transition is how he handles the tougher college game. He was able to overpower a lot of offensive linemen in high school, but he will face a lot more resistance starting next fall and must adapt.
The biggest key to his success is adding more variety to his game. So far, he's been able to get in the backfield on a regular basis simply by using his burst to shrug off interior offensive linemen. Those types of immediate line breaks are far less common in college.
Cage will need to find ways to make an impact when his initial rush fails, whether it be chasing down plays—which he certainly has the athleticism to do—or using his size to knock down passes.
It will take some time for him to develop those secondary skills, which is likely why he isn't a 5-star prospect at the outset, but there's enough natural talent to think he has a very bright future ahead. He just needs experience against elite linemen.
He should be able to play a rotational role right away before moving into the starting lineup after a season or two, depending on how much playing time he gets early on. As long as he continues to make steady progress, he'll be a high-impact player as an upperclassman.
All told, Cage has some work to do, but his potential is very intriguing.