The 2011 class has finally been signed and the time has come to comment on the official haul of Brian Kelly’s first full season on the recruiting trail.
This first post deals with the offense and I’ll take a look at the monster haul brought in on the defensive side of the ball in the next day or two.
Here are the 2011 Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive recruits!
Everett Golson (QB)
6’0” 170 from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Ranking: 4-star (ESPN & Scout) and 3-star (Rivals)
Brian Kelly’s Take
“Another one of our early enrollees, Everett Golson, already on campus, out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Skilled player. Certainly a young man that we had looked at from the very beginning.
He was a player that, again, we felt was a great fit for what we want to do offensively. I think you’ll see that. He’s also a great young man. Great because I got a chance to see him interact within his school and the respect that the principal and the teachers all had for Everett, the way he handled himself. He’s just going to be a great representative of Notre Dame, both on and off the field. He’s also pretty prolific in throwing the football.
I think the thing I’d like to point out before we get going, when you look at Everett Golson, think of him as a point guard. He’s always got his head up. Always looking to distribute. Always looking for that pass. Not necessarily the next shot, but he’s got to keep his head up. What you’ll see about Everett, he plays the game of football the same way. Eyes always down field. Always looking to throw the football and make that play.
Where we tried to distinguish the quarterback position is we didn’t want a guy that at first sight of any problems would drop his eyes and run. Here’s a guy that keeps his eyes up and is always looking downfield to make a play. That’s extending the play. He extends the play and delivers the football as well as anybody that we had watched. And I think you’ll see that in the way he plays the game.
Strong arm. I think you’ll find that. The ability to make people miss. I think you’ll find that right here. This poor guy right there, may have broke his ankle. Certainly has that ability to make you miss. And watch his athletic ability. Watch him put his hand down on the ground right there. And has the speed, obviously.
And, again, these were just a few of the clips. Most of his clips were about finding a receiver down the field. You’ll see one here, rolls to his right, and the strength of his arm to throw a level one ball outside the numbers is pretty unique for a quarterback, for his size, to have that strength of arm. Again, you’ll see him here, buy some time and look where he puts that ball with great touch. He throws all the balls necessary to be successful. Great touch on the ball. Lays it in. And then he’ll find somebody here in a moment. You’ll see how he can put it anywhere. And this is a great example of that.
Makes somebody miss. Stay alive, and he fits this ball 50 yards down the field between two defenders. Very gifted young man.
OFD Grade: 90 (out of 100)
If Golson was three inches taller and weighed closer to 200 pounds, he’d likely be among the top two or three quarterbacks in the nation. However, I don’t think his size is a big deal, particularly since he is a picture perfect fit for Kelly’s spread option offense.
We’ll certainly have plenty of time to size up Golson’s chances to see the field in the coming months, but he will be an intriguing guy to watch just because he is crazy athletic and could very well have the best arm on the team. That is truly a scary combination.
Judging by his interview aired on signing day, Golson seems prepared to wait in order to see the field if that is the path the quarterback battle takes. He’ll be a major player down the road but I still think a redshirt is likely in 2011.
Cam McDaniel (RB)
5’10” 190 from Coppell, Texas
“Cam, skilled position. Here’s a young man that’s got great durability. Played at the highest level in Texas. Carried the ball inside. This is not a guy that lined up at the slot and they threw screens to. This is a guy that was able to run. The real sell for us was his durability, toughness and his ability to play through some injury and also have a dynamic piece to him as well. He can catch the football. He can play in all of the special teams for us. And he’s physical enough at 190 pounds that he can run inside. He’s got an inside presence.
We needed somebody that could bang it up inside as well. And his durability and his ability to play through some nicks and a couple of injuries was a huge component for us. He’s got good speed at the top end of competition.
You can see him running out of the shotgun, but he can run it downhill. Again, this is a huge component for us, his ability to run it downhill inside. And, again, he’s a very good athlete as well. He’s playing against very, very good competition. Long season. Spring ball. All those things. Understands the game very well.
You can see him tracking the football here. Plays with a great deal of confidence. He’s probably one of the more confident men in this class. He really has a great deal of confidence and plays that way.
Catch the football. Can run after the catch. And just a complete knows how to play the game. This is a football player. This guy’s a football player. He was meant to play this game of football. And, like I said, he loves to compete. He loves the game. He’ll bring an energy level which we’re looking for as well.”
OFD Grade: 85
I’m glad Kelly brought it up on numerous occasions, because many are wondering if McDaniel can pound it through the middle or take the pounding at the next level, and the head coach’s comments likely answer those doubts.
Cam might well be the biggest sleeper in this class, because to me he looks like the fastest, and certainly the quickest, player the Irish have brought in this season. Maybe he’ll never be an every-down back, but that’s not what we’re really looking for here.
His intangibles are sky-high, and I can envision him coming in and getting some playing time right away. He’ll be a competitor in special teams and eventually be the type of back that sneaks through tiny holes and breaks off long runs with surprising frequency. His ability to not get tackled and make guys miss without necessarily juking is phenomenal.
George Atkinson III (WR)
6’2” 194 from Livermore, CA
Ranking: 4-star (Rivals) and 3-star (ESPN & Scout)
“George is an extremely talented young man. He can play a number of positions. In the Army All American game he played on defense. Here you can see him running out of the slot position. Great speed.
I think if you were going to separate him from maybe some of the other players in our class, long at 6’2″. And extremely versatile. You can see he’s a punt returner as well.
So he’s going to be competing for time on all of our kick teams as well. But great speed. Livermore, California, up by the San Francisco area. You see him in motion. Out here, a guy that can catch the screens as well. And obviously with the ball in his hands, he’s extremely dynamic as a football player.”
OFD Grade: 84
A week ago I would have told you that Atkinson was a prime candidate to sit out as a freshman and learn the ropes of college football, while getting stuck behind a collection of quality receivers. But with the move of a couple sophomores to the secondary, I think it’s pretty clear that Atkinson is going to get a shot to see the field in 2011.
Atkinson is very shifty with good and possibly great speed, but he might need a little more time to get used to playing receiver. He certainly has the pedigree and great instincts in the open field with a ton of potential. I think we’ll have to wait a little longer than most people think before he’s making a serious impact, but within a couple years Atkinson should be a very good player.
Davaris Daniels (WR)
6’3” 190 from Vernon Hills, IL
“DaVaris Daniels, out of Vernon Hills, Illinois. Played in the Under Armour All American game. Offensive player for us, even though he’s listed at skill. He’s somebody that we’ll focus particularly at the wide receiver position for us.
Incredible upside relative to his athletic ability. He’s got great pedigree. His dad is 15 years, Phillip Daniels, now in the NFL. Phillip said to me he’s hoping to have the first father son combination in the NFL.
We’ll hope that Phil is still in the NFL. We just hope DaVaris is here for four years. A little bit on both ends there. That’s the kind of family system. Very competitive. The family is a wonderful family and DaVaris is a young man we think from an offensive standpoint has incredible skills.
You’ll get a chance to see that in some of the clips we have here. We put together a basketball clip. This is not for Mike Brey’s viewing. This is more about to get a sense of a 6’2″, 6’2″ and a half player and his physical ability.
Here he is in the Under Armour All American game again. Long. Very good ball skills. And I think the thing that stands out is his size and his ability to make people miss for his size. It’s pretty clear to see his raw athletic ability at a good 6’2″. You can see him run out here. You also see him make a number of people miss and catching the football in traffic as well.
One, two, he’ll have three guys make a miss, and the kind of speed to break open a football game. Long, can go up and get the football. Led Vernon Hills this year to state playoff game wins. Hasn’t happened a lot.
You can see here, he’s a return man as well. Extremely versatile football player. Getting a little look at him at a running back position as well. Him returning the punt. This one’s amazing here. Watch this. That’s against Georgia. We hope it’s against Georgia. But DaVaris Daniels, an outstanding young man and really excited about him.”
OFD Grade: 93
Daniels has all the tools to be the next great Notre Dame receiver and should be a No. 1-type of receiver after a year or two in Brian Kelly’s system. He’s going to get a shot to play right away, and I would imagine he will play just as much, or more, as TJ Jones did last year.
He doesn’t have the height or size like Michael Floyd, but he has the same type of skills with his ability to go up for deep balls and make big plays in the passing game. The thing to watch for will be to see just how fast Daniels is, because if he is legitmately a burner with his size, he could be a freshman All-American candidate.
Ben Koyack (TE)
6’5” 230 from Oil City, Pennsylvania
Ranking: 5-star (Scout) and 4-star (Rivals & ESPN)
“Ben Koyack, out of Oil City High School, tight end position. Big skilled player for us. Played in the 2010 Under Armour All American game. We had him on our board as No. 1 tight end in the country. Whatever other people had, they had him, they had him anywhere from 1 to 10 or 15. I really don’t know.
We loved Ben Koyack from the very beginning. Great size. If you’re going to compare him to anybody, Tyler Eifert, has the ability to split out as a wide receiver, can lock in, put his hand on the ground and base a five technique or a nine technique.
He’s got all the skills necessary to be a great, great fit within our offensive structure. Here’s Ben in terms of being on the line of scrimmage. He can get vertically down the field and his ball skills are outstanding. Very soft hands. Naturally catches the football. Doesn’t fight it at all. And, again, he can play physical at the line of scrimmage or you can even spread him out and use his size, which Oil City did a pretty good job of.
You can see they split him out here to the left and to the fade. Watch him go up and get the football. Again, he can line up as a tight end, get off the line of scrimmage and find his way into open spaces. Here’s a nice block here. Playing physical. Brings all the components necessary. Great size. Speed, ball skills. He’s the complete package at that position.
Again, split out here to the left. Double move. And he’s got great body control that he can go up and get this football right on the sideline here.”
OFD Grade: 91
Kelly pretty much says it all: Koyack is going to be an awesome fit in the offense and a big-time receiver in no time. He is very similar to Eifert, but appears to be more polished, bigger and stronger coming out of high school.
His blocking could probably use a little work, but that is mostly due to his receiving skills overshadowing the other aspects of his game. I’m interested to see if he gets some playing time this year, even with Kyle Rudolph leaving early, but if his game is truly well-rounded he might even fight for a lot of minutes.
Conor Hanratty (OG)
6’4” 305 from New Canaan, Connecticut
“Conor Hanratty is an offensive lineman from New Canaan, Connecticut. He was an early commit for us. He’s got a great last name. Terry Hanratty, you may have heard of him. He played here at Notre Dame. Pretty good player for us here at Notre Dame. Went on to a great career.
What we liked about Conor was young, first of all, at the position; was somebody that we believed over a period of time as we developed him he was going to be a really good football player for us. But we liked his tenacity. He really got after people.
And you’ll see that in everything that he does, uses his hands very well and had an edge to him in the way he played. When I say an edge to him, he had that gnarly kind of demeanor at the offensive line.
And for a young guy, he’s made incredible progress, even after the season in terms of weight training and conditioning and all the things that he’s going to continue to work at. But you can see that he’s just a guy that gets after you. And obviously from our standpoint we’re looking for guys that can move their feet. He can move his feet but he also likes to finish things off.
At the right tackle position, again uses his hands very well. Strikes out. Right tackle again. Good hands. He’s got very good hands. Gets a good piece right away. Good hand position. Can move his feet and stays after it. He’s got a little nasty to him, which we really like. Again, uses his hands very well. Understands the pocket. You can see he’s got a great sense of where the quarterback is. It’s hard to teach some of the things he does right here. Just his ability to come back off of this and know that he’s got to expand the width of the pocket as a right tackle. Does a good job expanding here so the quarterback can step up.
Those little nuances, sometimes it’s hard to teach those things. He’s got a great awareness of it already. Going to have to get stronger, going to have continue to work hard. Those are the things that we think we can teach him. He’s got some of those unique, innate abilities. Watch him slap these hands down right away off the D linemen. Great technique of slapping hands and reengaging immediately.”
OFD Grade: 81
Obviously Hanratty is a very raw prospect and probably needs a full year in a college strength and conditioning program to get serious about playing at the next level, but he has sneaky good potential in my opinon.
He has a great pedigree and appears to be incredibly smart, with a nasty edge. Give Hanratty some time and he should be a quality guard who excels in blowing open holes in the running game.
Matthew Hegarty (OT)
6’5” 265 from Aztec, New Mexico
“Matt Hegarty, I think it’s been pretty well chronicled in terms of recruiting, here’s a young man from Aztec, New Mexico. Participated in the U.S. Army game. He’s also at U.S.A. versus the World right now. Just extremely athletic in that position. It starts there. Can move his feet very well.
We saw him move and felt like he was our target right away at the offensive line position. And you’ll be able to see that with his athleticism. He’s a left tackle here. See him pull. As you know, we like to move our linemen. The film that sold us is his ability to move in space and then arrive physically, square up, with good body position and finish off.
He will finish his blocks, period. He finishes things off. You’ll see it from a number of offensive linemen. The most consistent theme will be their athleticism and their ability to finish.
Left tackle again. Pulling. Watch him finish here. Just stays with it all the way through. Left tackle. Ability to set. And, again, here he’s pulling. You can see how well he moves. Watch him stutter his feet here. Square back up.
He’s going against, you know, a pretty small guy but he’s athletic. Here’s where you really start pulling your hair out as an offensive line coach, is that you put your guy in a good position and then he gets to the second level and he can’t control his body. He can’t control his 280 pounds in space. And then a smaller player can make him look silly. I think this is a good illustration of him getting his weight back under control and finishing this block.
And, again, his ability to obviously play in space and finish.”
OFD Grade: 92
I’ve been slightly down on Hegarty, as I have some doubts that he’s a truly elite tackle prospect, but obviously all of the recruiting services and Irish coaching staff are very high on him. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be very excited with his arrival, but it’s not like he’s jumping into big minutes this year or possibly even next year.
Offensive line is a difficult position to predict, but it’s hard not imagine Hegarty getting playing time early in his career and being a two or three-year starter. He’s already added size and is bigger than he’s listed per what Kelly is saying, so I think he’s going to come in and compete right away, but there are some good linemen ahead of him on the depth chart.
Nick Martin (OT)
6’5” 260 from Indianapolis, Indiana
“We’ll now move into Nick Martin. Nick is out of Bishop Chatard High School, won the state championship, 6’4″, 270 pounds.
And First Team Indiana. Again, the common theme here with the offensive linemen is their ability to move. And at 6’4″, 270, he’s got really good athletic ability, and he finishes off blocks. He’s got a demeanor again. That offensive line demeanor for us is the way they play the game. And he plays it very, very well.
And his brother’s not bad either, Zach Martin, here at Notre Dame. See him at right tackle. He’s a brawler. His helmet pops off here. And he’s going to finish the play. That’s a pretty good clip right there, you gotta admit, with no helmet on.
He moves to the second level very well. Watch him here as he climbs up, gets a great piece and gets the referee. How’s this? No? Okay. Anyway, the things that we’re looking for here is his physical ability. You can see that. That’s pretty clear. He’s 6’4″. Finishes blocks off. Stays on his feet and takes the defender down.
Got a lot of clips here. You can see at the right tackle position again. Works off the linebacker and stays, stays on his block. You know? Just finishes it off completely right there. Not a guy that’s just going to hit you and kind of lose you. He’s going to stay with you the whole way.
Great job getting off the football. You can see his athleticism.”
OFD Grade: 82
Martin comes in not particularly heralded as big time recruit, but I think he is one of the more underrated recruits who surprises with his ability on film.
Like Hanratty, he is very athletic and plays with a mean streak, except Martin is a little more polished coming out of high school. Like most linemen, it may take a while for him to make an impact, but I believe he will be one of the steals from this recruiting class that didn’t get a lot of attention but will become a starter down the road.
Chase Hounshell (DE/OL)
6’5” 242 from Kirtland, Ohio
“Also from the state of Ohio, Chase Hounshell, a power player for us. 6’5″, 255 pounds, out of Lake Catholic, Kirtland, Ohio. He’s somebody that gives us, again, great versatility, great motor. Continues to play right to the whistle. And, again, you can’t have enough of these kinds of profiled players.
Here you see him inside. He’s a very tough and aggressive kid. He takes great care of himself. He’s physically in great shape. Loves to work out. Nutrition is key to him. He just has all those components that we’re looking for in our defensive linemen. Very conscious of his body and taking care of himself and plays the game from sideline to sideline and never takes a play off.
There you see Chase again coming around on the stunt. Physically, very lean right now at 255 pounds. Brother plays at Central Florida. Obviously knows the game, been around the game. Chase, again here on the defensive side of the ball. Great penetration, very strong, physical player at the point of attack. Coming from the left side now.”
OFD Grade: 78
I put Hounshell on the offensive side of the ball to even out these posts, but also because I think he’ll ultimately be moved away from defense.
In my mind, he’s the lowest rated propsect of the class but has a lot of potential and could be a serious contributor once he fills out and adds more weight. It seems the coaching staff wants him on defense, but I think he lacks the explosiveness and speed to compete with the depth now on the defensive line.
Kyle Brindza (K/P)
6’2” 195 from Canton, Michigan
Ranking: 3-star (ESPN & Scout) and 2-star (Rivals)
“Kyle Brindza. Kyle, we believe, to be the most talented kicker in the country. His versatility in a sense he can do all the jobs. He can kick off. Obviously extra points and field goals, and he’s an outstanding punter. So he gives us such versatility coming in that he can take all of those positions and compete for all of those positions.
Out of Plymouth, Canton High School. Set the state record with 18 made field goals, including 6 of 9 from 50 yards or more.
And he was single handedly the man that got his football team to the State Finals in Michigan. He made winning kicks in a couple of the games in the playoffs. He’s played in all those conditions. In other words, he’s played in big games. He’s had to make the big kick. He’s been involved in those situations, and again his versatility is really the thing that we felt made him the best kicker in the country.
He’s been to all the camps and all the clinics. Again, his tape is pretty easy to evaluate. Quick in getting the ball up. Again, great strength of leg. You’ll be able to see him kicking off here. Even though this is from the 40, he’ll back it up. He’s kicking it, as you can see, almost 15 yards out of the back of the end zone. It’s really crazy. I’d like to say that we’ve doctored the tape here. But watch the hang time on his punts.
Mike Elston is very excited about having Kyle. I’m excited about having him as well. He does a lot of jobs for you. Great young man. And he’s somebody that plays high school football, not just as a kicker. He contributed. I mean, he’s a big physical kid. 6’1″, 219. When he gets off the bus and everybody knows he’s the kicker we’re going to scare a lot of teams because our kicker looks pretty good. Outstanding player for us.”
OFD Grade: 91
There’s no doubt in my mind that Brindza is the top kicker in the nation, and possibly one of the most well-rounded special teamers of the last few years. His leg power is shocking and his fundamentals are incredibly sound as well.
Long-term he is the next field goal kicker, but he might have trouble wrestling that job from David Ruffer or Nick Taush. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brindza is taking over kickoff and punting duties next fall because his leg in both areas is just too big for him not to grab those positions.
Stay tuned for Bob Diaco’s defensive haul coming soon!