Hidden Gems in Notre Dame’s Recruiting Class of 2013

Colin McGovern of New Lenox, IL (Lincoln-Way West HS) prepares for the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Champion Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The game will be played on January 4, 2013 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo – Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)

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.

Michael 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.

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  1. Its not always the five star recruit that makes a big splash and keeps the team afloat. Sometimes you find a gem in your recruiting class that wasn’t really expected. That very often is were a season is made or not. The Irish appear to have some recruits that fit that mold. How does Boise continue to win with so many 3 star athletes? The more you manage to sign the better your chances. Not every one can get the 5 star players. They have to make do with what you get.

  2. Christopher Key??? SWATS ??? Alabama football ???

    Deer Antler spary…. Oh dear! Oh MY! Really!

    What the hell is next?

    Pole-cat scat brew? Rabid varment fur rub? Ferrel hog tusk dust? Toad belly balm? Bathsalts snuff-n-huff? Polijuice made from authentic southern lacewing flies?

    I guess I’m getting old…. I remember when it was a big deal when a player was allowed to tape his ankles over his socks and shoes!

  3. With just a few days remaining until official signing day the Irish recruits look very good. Unfortunately, signing day sometimes brings unexpected changes. The running backs need to sign and of course the offensive/defensive players do also. They’ve added another quality QB and that’s good although what are they going to do with all of them? Can you say “red shirt”?

  4. Great points, ARMAC. Plus we alreday have one of the top O line prospects among the early committments for 2014. I really like how BK is building the lines.

  5. Is it worth noting that all five of these 2013 O-linemen are larger than the men they will replace?

    That assumes Montelus and McGovern at 6’5 are slated for the guard position, with 6’7 Bivin and 6’9 McGlinchey at left and right tackle respectively.

    At 6’6 Steve Elmer would be unusually tall at center but he has the big torso, long arms, and intelligence you look for at that position.

    On average, that would make the future O-line about 3 inches taller and maybe 30 pounds heavier than the current o-line.

  6. Frank,

    I don’t mind the ND Sherman Oaks stories. Once I realize they’re not about our Irish, I just leave the site.

    But the anti-ND stories are transparent. The titles alone give them away. Minimal editing should catch most if not all of them. Of course we all realize that UHND.com is a labor of love. So we don’t expect perfection. Things will slip through. We understand. But if we can do just a bit more to keep our site ND friendly that would be great.

    Keep up the excellent work, Frank!

    1. Thanks Rob, we actually can’t edit them out at all right now based on how the headlines are programed. They are brought in from a feed and we can’t remove them right now. That’s why we are looking to change how the headlines are brought in.

  7. jeff,

    WR LaRue didn’t even make it and picked TAM last week. (TAM has recruited like 40 players and about 8 of them are WRs. Nothing like having a Heisman QB to motivate WR recruits, I guess.Can someone explain to me how TAM has so many scholarships to give?)

    I’d be happy with just getting Vanderdoes and signing a class of 23. The other ex-USC D committment (Fitts, I believe) would be a good get too. I’m somewhat disappointed at not getting either P. Willis or M. Alexander. I think it might be a good idea of giving Forston a look at CB.

  8. Has anyone heard any news about the visiting recruits this weekend? Sure would be nice if we could seal the deal with Vanderdoes and the other three that are visiting this weekend. So sick of hearing about the Teo mess. The kid made a mistake. Big deal move on.

  9. Can we please keep this site free of articles like “Te’o Joins Long Tradition of Notre Dame Hooey”. I mean, really, Frank et al., it’s not like we don’t get enough of that bunk at ESPN, CBSSports, BR, and SB Nation, etc. We have to get links to that crap here, too!

    It’s enough that we have to deal with trolls with apparently no way of closing off access to them, regardless of the repeated calls from several of us here to do just that. Please let’s not give the ND haters any more free publicity. This should be a site of refuge for true ND fans.

    Obviously, Frank & Co., will do whatever they want. Just my own two cents, that’s all.

      1. Frank,

        It’s on the side links above our comments. I misquoted the title slighlty but it’s there. That’s were anti-ND links (and links to other programs with the ND name but not the school in S. Bend and its teams) reside. It’s really annoying even seeing them on here. Like I said, and others, too, this is our refuge. We get enough of this crap at other sites.

        Is there any way of keeping this stuff from our beloved ND site?

      2. Gotcha, those links are automated so there’s not much we can do in terms of removing it. We are working on making the source of those links better and more robust this off-season though.

  10. All joking aside, I think the point, JC, stores, and ma are trying to make is a valid one. ND needs to develop some toughness on O. A great way to do that is to develop a power run game. That brings a whole new attitude to your backs and linemen. A power run game sapps the will of the opposition (case in point what Bama did to our D in the NC game!).

    BK can keep his Spread as the teams’ basic O. But a power compnent would be a nice complement. ND could run it with minimal personnel changes on O. They could easily shift to a Power I by tightening up the splints on the line and shifting one TE into the FB position. Or they could sub out a TE for a bigger back who could line up behind the QB and either run or block.

    It’s clear that whatever BK’s O game plan is it isn’t beyond some tweaking.


    1. I tell you what, when you have the personnel to have a power running games, it tends to work rather well, KISS theory at its finest.

  11. stores and JC,

    We all miss the good old days when ND was a power running team!

    I think we have the talent to incorporate some power into the O playbook. In addition to putting a TE in the backfield, Will Mahone can serve as a power back or a FB who can carry the ball or block.

    Variety, they say, is the spice of life. So why not add a few wrinkles in the playbook. Put in a power running package. That package can also aloow for some play action, with both the RB and FB providing blocking.

    OK, JC and stores, which one of you is going to get Frank or Duranko to take a look into this?

  12. Hey, JC,

    Yeah, you know that I like the power running game. And you’re also right about ND being loaded at TE. I like what you’re saying. I’m all in!

    However, how do we convince BK? His style of O is designed to use speed and misdirection instead of power formations. I love the Bama O. It’s timeless. It worked yesterday, works today, will work tomorrow. Unlike gimmickie O schemes like the “Wildcat” or Spread which will be outdated before you know it.

    I love the FB dives and FBs blowing up holes for the TBs. I love the O Harbaugh ran at Stanford. I’d take that over the Spread any day.

    Perhaps BK will realize that a little power ball to complement his O schemes makes a lot of sense. I like how you’re thinking! You get my )vote for OC!;)

    1. In other words, just like the good old days when Lou was around when we had good power running games. Ahhh, I miss them SFR.

    2. Rob,

      Maybe we can get Duranko or Frank to write a Hybrid FB Article of Need and email it to BK? Featuring all the great ND fullbacks. Might work?

      Hmmm…Storespook your on to me and Lou. Hahaha!

  13. What about it Steelfan,

    After witnessing Bama’s crushing ground game. Why not a Jerome Bettis FB type in the line-up to lead our ground game? Of course, at this late date, definately hard to find under any circumstances. However, we are certainly going to be loaded with TE’s in the fall! Why not convert one of our TE’s into a hybrid FB and bull-blast-holes for our RB’s through some of those tough defensive lines we face? As well as our FB scoring in the red zone. I say our red zone production would double with a hybrid FB! 6’4″-220-250lbs and 4.7 or 4.8 speed? What you say?

    Here comes our Tank Brigade!

  14. I think we got a bit lucky last season 12.0, the targets really going to be on our backs this season, have to be tougher and more dominate. Watch for Gunnar Kiel to give Golston some competition.

    1. Luck always plays a role, but give credit to some brilliant coaching – the use of Tommy Rees, the development of the D-line and secondary…

      Golson merely scratched the surface of his potential. With quicker reads, a bigger playbook, and an offense tailored to his strengths, look for Golson 2013 to put tremendous pressure on defenses.

      Gunner will wait his turn. No way Kelly starts his fourth consecutive season with an inexperienced QB.

  15. Thanks, Todd.

    I know I’m guilty at times of focusing too much on what we lost. Not that it’s good to lose any stud recruit, but you bring up a good point about focusing on what a great class we have (now).

    If we can hold on to and sign all the lads in this class and add Vanderdoes that would be great. Throw in as well the TE from Texas and or Fitts and this is a consensus top 1-2 class.

  16. Yes, SteelFan, I have that impression of Robinson as well. I think he will continue to develop physically over the next 4 years and will end up much taller than he is now (6’4″). I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up around 6’8″ or so.

    Is anyone else as excited about this incoming class as I am.? They have some serious, serious talent coming to South Bend – great, great class. In addition, I see them getting the TE out of Texas (Smythe) and either Fitts or Vanderdoes!

    Here come the Irish!

  17. Any one else notice that C. Robinson is moving up different rankings? Rivals,for example,just gave him a 4th star.

    I can see Robinson growing a few more inches and adding about 30 lbs. (putting him at about 6′ 6” and 240+ lbs.) in the next few years and becoming a hybrid WR/TE type like a Tony Gonzalez or our own Tyler Eifert.

    I don’t know why, but I have a feeling about this kid. Certainly, he has great genes from and a role model in his dad, “The Admiral.”

    Any one else get that impression about Robinson?

  18. Look at NFL rosters. If talent “ratings” were any indication of future success, you’d see Super Bowl teams exclusively with Alabama, LSU and Oregon players. The fact is you don’t. There’s plenty of other kids, from small/crappy/1-AA/Div II schools littered among NFL rosters. It comes down to maximizing an individual’s talent and them fitting a system.

    That is more important to me than some fat slob with a recruiting service (who probably didn’t even play college or pro football) telling us about talent. Furthermore, if recruiting rankings were indicative of on-the-field production, we’d be talking about Notre Dame’s 30 year run of Top 10 finishes. And we all know that isn’t true.

    1. Sort of out left field there with Oregon. I think they’ve cracked the top 10 in recruiting classes maybe once out of the last ten years? I always saw them as more of a well-coached “system” team than a team that beat you with raw talent.

    2. Amen brother. Just check out the Pats. Wes Welker was Mr Football in Oklahoma, and had 1 D-1 offer and not alot of exposure at Texas Tech. Now look at him. Same with Danny Woodhead at RB with the Pats who got cut by the Jets and was a tremendous player at the DIII level in college.

  19. This is an unusual article. You have taken our lowest rated offensive tackle, linebacker and defensive back and said each may have an early impact for the Irish.

    However, Rivals rates McGovern just the 37th best tackle prospect, and he was pushed around in the camps last summer. On film, Deeb looks far from quick to the ball; and Rivals rates him only the 36th best inside linebacker in his class (The other services rate him only slightly higher). Butler is slow.

    Looking at the players who appear to be the weakest in their recruiting class and predicting good things from them is a novel approach. I wish all of them well and hope you are right.

    1. Old School – you are absolutely right. This isn’t an article trying to claim these kids are as good as the 4 and 5* kids floating around. It is really about what these kids could do, if they maximize their efforts and talent. Just a different perspective from the one that only talks about same names all the time.

    2. The coaching staff recruited these players regardless of star-ratings because they believed they could coach these kids up to the level of 4-star recruits.

      McGovern has the frame, quickness, and attitude. Size and strength can be added by the time he is needed on the field.

      Rating services give out stars based on current ability. Coaches look at that, and also potential. Several players in this class – such as the ones in the article – will have time to develop and contribute.

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