Monday, March 10, 2008

Irish Recruiting Recap: Defensive Line

Finally!!! That is my reaction to the Irish finally bringing in a big time haul of numbers and talent on the D Line. For years, D Line recruiting has been an Achilles heel for the Irish, but finally the Irish began to address their needs in this position group this year.

Sean Cwynar: As an early enrollee and already a big kid, Cwynar is exactly what the doctor ordered for a depleted DL this spring. With Pat Kuntz out for the spring and Derell Hand out of football, the Irish are going to be hurting for numbers this spring. Bringing in a kid like Cwynar early will help. Sean is a perfect DE in a 3-4 personnel defense. He is a big kid, with talent, a quick first step, and a motor that doesn't quit. From a technique standpoint, Sean has some work to do, but the natural talent is there. The biggest thing that jumps out at me about Sean is his motor. He is really relentless in his pursuit of the ball. He plays the game similar to the way Pat Kuntz does -- all out. Sean is not going to beat you with his speed, but he is quicker than you might think. With his frame and a head start, I think he could give the Irish some snaps in the fall and hold his own.

Ethan Johnson: Plain and simple, Ethan is the edge rusher from the DE position the Irish have been missing. His first step is frighteningly quick and he beats many opponents immediately with that first step. He is also very strong at the point of attack and is not a guy that is going to need to put on a lot of weight in order to contribute. In past years, the Irish have landed pass rushers, but they have come in as thin guys who needed years to add the required muscle to hold up. In Ethan, the Irish finally landed a guy who is already 250-260 pounds, which allows him to get in the mix earlier and worry more about learning scheme and technique than simply adding bulk. What happens with a lot of the really thin guys who come in, like a Kallen Wade, is that it takes them 2-3 years to bulk up, then they have to learn to play with that weight, and only then are they the contributor you thought they could be. Provided a knee injury suffered his senior season is healed (and I hear that he is full go) Ethan will be a contributor early. I think you might see Ethan early in the season as a situational pass rusher at DE and he has a chance to really push for more playing time as the year goes on.

Brandon Newman: The Irish needed to land at least 2 NG/DT types in this class who could give them snaps early and they accomplished that. Brandon has a real good build for the NG position. He is a strong, stocky kid who plays hard. Brandon did not have a great senior season, but he showed well at the Army game. I think he needs to make sure he comes into training camp in better physical condition than he played his senior season. Ian Williams will be the starter at NG and will play the majority of snaps this season, but I can see Brandon giving him a breather and holding his own.

Hafis Williams: Hafis is my sleeper recruit of this class. Not much was seen of him, not much was talked about, but this kid is relentless. Hafis did not have a whole lot of film available and I think that kept the buzz about him down. He also is a kid who really didn't want a whole lot of attention during the recruiting process. From a technique standpoint, I think Hafis has a lot of work to do, but he will compensate for that with his motor. When he stays low, he is extremely powerful. While there is some question about his best position, DE or DT/NG, I think he winds up as a DT/NG. While everyone focuses on Brandon as an early contributor, watch out for Hafis. I think he is a much better player than some realize.

Kapron Lewis Moore: I debated for a while whether to put Kapron with the LBs or the DL, but I decided to put him where I think he will end up, which is DE. Right now, Kapron is an athlete. He is a guy who improved dramatically from his junior to his senior season, but who still needs to become more of a football player. When you watch Kapron play, he excels in situations where he can just let his athleticism take over. Fundamentally and technically, he needs to lock into a position and really learn how to play the position, because in college, he won't be athletically superior to his opponents. I see Kapron as one of those guys who will kind of disappear for a year or 2 before he is ready to make his impact. Nevertheless, he is a great get for the Irish.

Finally, I figured here was the best place to discuss my thoughts following recruiting on the Omar Hunter situation. Make no mistake about it, losing Omar was a huge loss. He is an immense talent and in my view the absolute perfect talent for the NG position in the Irish defense. You can't minimize that loss from a talent standpoint. However, having said that, what we learned from Omar after his decommitment made me think perhaps he was not a good fit for the Irish team and program. Omar stated that he was concerned he would have to face double teams every play as a NG in a 3-4 and that would limit him from becoming a playmaker. To be clear, I am not criticizing the kid personally and he had every right to choose whatever school he wanted to go to. My point is this: The NG in the Irish defense, which is where Omar would have been firmly planted, is about as difficult a position as there is in football. There is very little, if any, glory there. You are going to get pounded every play and most plays you will be hammered by 2 guys simultaneously. Omar is absolutely right -- it is likely you won't show up as a playmaker at this spot. It takes a special player type and special personality to succeed in this position. You have to have a guy who is 110% unselfish and who is absolutely relentless. He has to give you that attitude every down because the only time he is likely to show up glaringly is when he lets up or gets blown up inside. While you always want as much talent as possible, in some ways I think guys like Pat Kuntz and Ian Williams, guys who are overachievers, tend to fare better in this spot than the superstar high school athletes. In any case, the Omar situation is over and I wish him the best.

Your thoughts?


Sir John said...

Thanks for your imput Irish Glory, I can't disagree with anything, except I quit talking about Omar light years ago. Ahahah

BigE said...

Good analysis. I think all with the exception of Kapron will give much needed relief minutes. If there is one position that a freshman can more easily contribute it would be the d-line. For the most part, you can give him simple instructions. Find the ball and make the tackle.

Face Mask said...

Defense is a little more involved than that.But in a nut shell, the D line must be made up of your best athletes and most agressive athletes.You are right IG that the D lineman will likely be blocked by two guys most of the time and a Freshman may not be up to that at this level of play.Those positions are two impotant to take the chance on a guy getting blown out unless you are way ahead in the game and I don't see ND having that kind of season in 08.Maybe 09 and certainly by 2010 but not next year.Anyway my point is look for these positions to be maned by solid players.Tenuta & brown will be cooking up some bad JU JU for the opposing O lineman.I think everyone will be impressed.GO IRISH!!!