After a rough couple of weeks for Irish fans, we figured it was time to move forward. With National Signing Day approaching on February 6th, Brian Kelly and staff are closing in on having a top 5 recruiting class for 2013. Of course there are names that everybody already knows, like Malik Zaire, Greg Bryant, Max Redfield and Jaylon Smith, but we wanted to take a deeper look and find 3 kids that may have an impact for the Irish sooner, rather than later, but are still not household names to those who just casually follow recruiting. This is a tough task, and requires a lot of research, film sessions, and understanding of the area and program in which the young man is coming from. While there is no true barometer in which to measure a young man’s assumed impact over the course of four years for a program, there are certain attributes that a player possesses that make it easier to gauge. Let’s take a closer look at who we feel that Irish fans should, at the very least, keep an eye on and who may see the field quicker than some might expect.
Colin McGovern – (OL) New Lenox, IL ( Lincoln-Way West) 3*
The Irish had a solid offensive line in 2012, and with left tackle Zach Martin returning, the line could be even better in 2013. Obviously the goal each year for any school is to add at least 4-5 offensive linemen, and the Irish are no different. So far for the 2013 class, Coach Kelly has added 5 total, and of that group, Colin McGovern may actually be the least celebrated of the total haul. At 6’5 284, the Senior from Lincoln needs to add a little more weight and muscle, but has a great foundation to start with. While looking at his video it was evident that McGovern has the ability to be strong as both a pass and rush blocker. He possesses extremely good balance, quick feet, and strong leg drive. He seemingly has a good head on shoulders, and in our film session, he rarely was ever beat on the first step, and consistently controlled his opponent. He is a very physical, and at times very dominant, and if he maintains good technique, and can adjust to the speeds he will face while playing at Notre Dame, McGovern could be as good, if not better than any of the other four linemen that Kelly has secured in the 2013 class. McGovern chose the Irish from an impressive offer list that included Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Washington, and Nebraska.
Mike Deeb – (LB) Ft. Lauderdale, FL(American Heritage – Plantation) 3*
Although the 6-2 237 pound ILB is generally viewed as a 3 star prospect, don’t let that fool you. He is a high energy guy, that is always on the go. He plays down hill, and is always involved in the play somehow. Rarely caught out of position, Deeb uses his head as much as his mature physique to dominate both in the run game, as well as pass defense. He possesses enough strength to find his way into the backfield, and is quick enough to play the passing lanes and help cover the flat. In his videos he showed physical dominance at the point of attack, and constantly has one eye in the backfield and one on what’s going on around him. In 2011 the Senior from American Heritage-Plantation compiled 90 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles. He followed that in 2012 with 89 tackles, 4 sacks, and 5 interceptions. He was the anchor of a defense that only allowed 20 points over the course of their first 9 games, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him bring that same type of leadership and intensity to South Bend. Mike ended up picking the Irish over other offers from Florida State, Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Vanderbilt.
Devin Butler – (CB) Washington, DC (Gonzaga) 3*4* (site dependant)
Although the Irish secondary made tremendous strides in 2012, it was no secret that the group lacked depth in every way imaginable. Irish commits Max Redfield and Cole Luke may be the ones grabbing all the attention of Irish fans, but Devin Butler is someone they should probably have on their radar also. While Butler may not be as gifted as the others, he brings a lot to the field both in physical talent and smart play. With only a 4.64 40 time, Butler needs to rely on instinct, good technique, and play recognition more than others, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. He has good size at 6’1, and understands how to position himself and use that to his advantage. His strength is keeping the ball in front of him, but may struggle a bit with quicker receivers downfield. In watching video of Butler the most impressive attribute was his ability to constantly put himself in good position on the ball. Butler also played wide receiver at Gonzaga, so that should serve him well at the next level for the Irish. Calling Butler a big hitter would be a stretch, but the kid definitely has a nose for the ball. It may take Devin a while to see the field, but he should contribute on special teams right away. Butler chose the Irish over some other notable schools including Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Baylor.
Obviously there are no guarantees in the world of college football recruiting, and just because someone looks great on film, doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate well into college. With that said, just because a young man is tagged with a certain star level, doesn’t mean that he can’t exceed the limitations placed on him by the supposed experts either.