Brian Kelly and staff reeled in a recruiting class on Wednesday in their first go round coaching the Fighting Irish. Mixed in with headliners like Aaron Lynch, Stephon Tuitt, and Ishaq Williams are a number of players who have flown under the radar.
Here’s a look at some players who haven’t gotten as much attention on the blogs and forums over the last few months, but could have a big impact on the Fighting Irish in the future.
Ben Koyack (TE) – It’s amazing that a player of Koyack’s caliber could be overlooked, but after committing early, fans seemed to forget about him. Simply put, Koyack is one of the nation’s elite tight end recruits who should be the next in line of great tight ends at “Tight End U”.
Even before he eventually takes the reigns from Tyler Eifert, Koyack will give Kelly some exciting possibilities in two tight end sets. Kelly loved what he saw from Eifert almost as soon as he took over and he gave Koyack a ringing endorsement Wednesday as well.
“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,” said Kelly.
Matthias Farley (S) – Farley didn’t get much attention because he was an early commitment and didn’t waver at any point. He is still very raw, but with the right coaching, Farley has the tools to be a playmaking safety. He only played two years of high school football so he has a lot to learn, but physically is a very gifted athlete. Brian Kelly practically gushed over Farely’s athleticism on Wednesday.
Because of his lack of experience, its possible he could end up playing somewhere other than safety after the staff gets a look at him in camp. Wide receiver and cornerback are two other possible destinations, but after working with Chuck Martin for a couple of years, Notre Dame could have themselves a really dynamic member in the defensive back in Farley.
Nick Martin (OL) – Martin got lost amid the crazy two week period that saw Notre Dame add Aaron Lynch back into this year’s class, pick up Ishaq Williams, and then lose Stephon Tuitt only to add him back a day later. Martin was a key addition to this year’s class, however, and like his older brother, 2010 Notre Dame offensive lineman of the year, Nick Martin, he could turn out to be a very underrated recruit for the Irish.
If you watch Martin’s film, you’ll see a nasty offensive lineman who finishes his blocks. He’s a very physical player who likely projects as a right tackle but he could also slid inside if necessary.
Jarrett Grace (ILB) – Grace gets overlooked because of the haul Notre Dame had at outside linebacker, but it seems clear that Notre Dame added a top flight inside linebacker to compliment the impressive group of outside backers they signed Wednesday with Grace.
“Those guys that play inside for us have to take guards on them. So they’ve got to be big, strong and physical,” explain Kelly on Wednesday. He would add, “Be able to leverage offensive linemen out and cancel out gaps. He’s certainly somebody that we see that can do that.”
Notre Dame finally has some depth at inside linebacker with Manti Te’o and Carlo Calabrese returning as starters and Anthony McDonald and Kendall Moore providing some depth so Grace will have some time to develop. When he does, he should be more than a capable starting inside backer for Notre Dame.
Anthony Rabasa (OLB) – Most Notre Dame fans have focused primarily on Ben Councell and Ishaq Williams at outside linebacker, but Rabasa is a big time prospect at the position as well. Notre Dame pulled Rabasa out from right under Miami’s nose and when Al Golden took over for Randy Shannon, the former Temple head coach make a push for Rabasa.
Rabasa is a relentless linebacker who plays with a non-stop motor. He is going to need a lot of work with his coverage since he does not have a great deal of experience dropping back, but he’s got the tools to be an impact player at the position.