Friday, March 7, 2008

Irish Recruiting Recap: Offensive Line

After witnessing the Irish O Line struggle throughout the 2007 season, you can't overestimate the importance of getting some fresh blood injected into this unit. While I expect that significant improvement on the line next year will come from current players refocusing and developing, you always need an infusion of fresh bodies and talent on the line. The Irish added 4 solid prospects to the O line group this recruiting class.

Trevor Robinson: Trevor is the most heralded of the group signed by the Irish and should be a mainstay at guard in the coming years. He is exactly what the Irish needed in an interior lineman. He is big, strong, physical, and not afraid to mix it up. Trevor is already from a size standpoint able to contribute and being an early enrollee will help him even more. I watched Trevor closely at the Army All American game and came away extremely impressed. His run blocking is superior right now. Trevor can come in right now and contribute as a run blocker on the line. Where he really needs to work and improve is in his pass blocking. Watching him, I suspect that his high school did not throw the ball a whole lot. Trevor's pass blocking technique is not awful, it is just pretty raw right now. The good part is that he has all the things you can't coach already there -- size, natural strength, attitude, etc. While I don't know that he will start next season, I do think he will provide some solid competition for Turkovich and Olsen and push them hard. If those guys don't have a fire lit under them now, they soon will. You can clearly tell why Trevor was one of the first prospects targeted by the coaching staff last year.

Braxston Cave: This guy has to be a favorite for Irish fans already. The stuff he did to help cement this recruiting class speaks loudly to his leadership ability and character. As a player, Braxston is pretty darn good in his own right. I had a tough time evaluating Braxston on his high school tape because I am not real high on Indiana high school football and the competition he faced. What I could tell is that he plays hard and he plays nasty. I loved his attitude. What really helped me get a picture of Braxston was his performance at the ESPN Under Armour game. He looked fantastic. I saw a guy who played with much better technique than I previously thought and who is not intimidated in the least (plus he pancaked Omar Hunter which made me smile). Braxston has real good size for a center/guard and could help early, though I don't see him cracking the starting lineup as a freshman. With Braxston and Mike Golic coming in, I expect one of these guys to eventually shift to guard.

Mike Golic: The first recruit to commit in his class, Mike is the son of former Irish player Mike Golic, Sr. Mike is going to contribute to this program before all is said and done, you can count on that. He plays with excellent technique and has a very advanced understanding of technique and leverage. Where he needs to improve is in his size and his adjustment to top competition, as I don't believe he played against very good competition in high school. While I think Mike is at least 2 years away from contributing on the line, I believe he can contribute very early, possibly as a freshman, as a long snapper. While I think Mike has the poise and ability to serve as the long snapper as a freshman, I am really hoping that the Irish find an alternative, because he would really benefit from having the redshirt year to gain size and strength. I think Mike is going to be one of those guys where he kind of goes unseen in the program for a couple of years, people forget about him, and then he makes a big jump and is a contributor likely by his junior year.

Lane Clelland: Lane is probably the only projected offensive tackle that the Irish signed in this recruiting class. He is a hard nosed kid who is not afraid to mix it up. 2 things stand out to me about Lane right now. First, he has a great understanding of leverage. As a wrestler in high school, Lane has really learned the value of playing with leverage. You can't overestimate how important this is. I wish more O linemen had a wrestling background. Second, likely because of his wrestling and weight class restrictions, Lane is small right now. He needs to add a lot of size and strength before he is ready to contribute. If you were to look at Lane right now next to a Sam Young or Paul Duncan or Matt Romine, you would clearly know who the freshman was. This will come with time. While I wish that the Irish could have signed an additional lineman in this class who could contribute as a freshman at tackle, Lane will be a fine player down the road for the Irish. I will say this about Lane -- his freshman year is going to be extremely important for him to make big size gains and a positive impression as I believe the Irish will be targeting at least 2 tackles in this coming class who they feel will be ready and able to play early.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

You know jack and sh*t about these players. It's obvious that you're basing your entire analysis on the Army All-American game.

"Watching him, I suspect that his high school did not throw the ball a whole lot."

Yeah that pretty much says it all. Elkhorn threw the ball quite a bit. I should know, I went to every one of their games.

Just like every other Notre Dame blogger.... talking out of your ass about players you know nothing about.

Sir John said...

Well anonymous, and by the way being to afraid you use your name or handle in a "negative and attacking post." Jeese you guys must patrol ND sites to be insulting. Get a life dweeb.

I found Irish Glory's analysis very sharp. Great that you could go to every Elkhorn game Mr expert, Presumably you live very close?
Are you confused that Irish Glory and people like me living in different States can attend Elkhorn games? We make judgemnts based on what we see.

IrishGlory said...

Anonymous - I fully respect your right to post your opinions and if you disagree with my views, all the better. Makes for better debates and discussions. I am not sure why you feel the need to spew venom and apparent disdain in expressing your views, as I feel we should be able to have respectful disagreements, but I suppose that is your issue. That is fantastic that you attended all Elkhorn games. That should make you a great resource, should you choose to contribute in that fashion. I simply go by what I see, no more, no less. I do not proclaim to be an expert or to have watched every down of every game. Hence, why I phrased it that I "suspect" that they did not throw the ball often. As I said, I go by what I see, and what I see in Trevor AT THIS STAGE of his development is a dominant run blocker and a good pass blocker with lots of room to improve. Let's keep in mind that we are talking about 18 year old kids here. None of them are remotely close to being finished products.

BigE said...

Good analysis Irishglory. I too expect our two seniors and four junior linemen to turn things around for ND this year. Perhaps anonymous is a scorned big red fan, left at the alter by Robinson's decommit. Get a life.

Face Mask said...

Nice read,good work.Anon can go pound sand.

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