Caleb Offord Adds More Length, Versatility to Notre Dame Secondary

Notre Dame Added it’s third commitment to the defensive backfield in the last month on Thursday when Caleb Offord gave the Irish a verbal commitment.  Offord’s commitment continued a string of recent additions to the Irish secondary that bolstered the group with a lot of length and future position flexibility.

Caleb Offord, a 6’1″, 175 lbs prospect, is a 3-star rated recruit across all of the major services.

Offord’s commitment to Notre Dame comes on the heels of a pretty short recruiting process by today’s standards.  Notre Dame had not even offered Offord yet in early May when Terry Joseph made a trip down to Mississippi to evaluate the Southhaven native run through some drills.  Joseph liked what he saw pretty quickly and Offord had a Notre Dame offer in hands a few days later.

Offord took just as quick of a liking to Notre Dame.  He visited unofficially in early June only to return a couple weeks later on his official visit.  Those two visits were all it took for Offord and his family to realize that they wanted to be apart of the Notre Dame family for the next four or five years.

Prior to committing to Notre Dame Offord had received formal offers from Duke, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Louisville, and Purdue among some others.  In-state program Ole Miss, however, was starting to show much more interest shortly after the offer from Notre Dame came in. That offer list should make it clear that Notre Dame’s newest addition has placed a clear emphasis on academics.

With Offord on board, Notre Dame now has three commitments for the class of 2020.  Clarence Lewis got things started for Notre Dame in early June with a commitment following an official visit the same weekend Offord made his first trip to South Bend.  Landen Bartleson kept the ball rolling later last month when he added his commitment for the class of 2020 as well.

Recruiting for a Profile

What all three have in common is length and versatility.  When Notre Dame swung for the fences and missed with some elite corners earlier this cycle, it forced them to readjust their recruiting board.  When they did, it was clear that Notre Dame decided to go the route of recruiting a profile and trusting in its staff’s own ability to develop raw talent.

This approach has worked very well for Notre Dame in the past.  Remember, Jalen Elliott was a low 3-star local recruit and a much maligned starter as a sophomore before blossoming into an impact player last fall as a junior.  This year he figures to be in the mix for post-season accolades.

Notre Dame has had also had success in recruiting for profile at defensive back during the tenure of Brian Kelly.  Julian Love was not an elite recruit and “lacked elite speed” but he fit the profile and turned into an All-American corner in the Notre Dame defense.

Sound familiar to Offord? If there’s one knock on Offord right now it’s that his long speed is questionable.  He’s got more than enough of it on the prep level, but how his speed translates to the college level and how much he can improve on it will determine whether he is a long term corner for the Irish or if an eventual move to safety is in the cards for him before all is said and done.

Right now Offord’s reported 40 time is in the 4.6 range.  That won’t cut it against elite, speed receivers on the college level. This staff, however, saw enough in Offord’s agility and athleticism in person, however, to either think that they can work on that or that he can be useful elsewhere on defense such as safety.,

Before anyone rolls their eyes about working on someone’s speed, remember that Will Fuller wasn’t considered a “burner” by any recruiting service and improved his speed quite a bit once arriving on campus at Notre Dame.

At the same time, it’s not quite ideal for Notre Dame to have to recruit for profile and bank on development.  In  a perfect world, Notre Dame would be hauling in the likes of Clark Phillips and Jalen Kimber at corner each year.  We don’t live in an perfect world though,

Also, take this for what it’s worth, but Tim Prister, who has been covering Notre Dame football longer than anyone currently on the beat, also really likes what he sees in Caleb Offord.

Notre Dame’s Rare Trip to Mississippi

One element that makes Offord’s recruitment unique for Notre Dame is where this defensive back comes from – Mississippi.

Notre Dame does not venture down to Mississippi very often and when they do, it’s usually without much success.  In fact, the last player Notre Dame pulled out of Mississippi was former quarterback Jarious Jackson.  He left Notre Dame following the 1999 season.  That’s 20 years since the Irish have had a scholarship player from Mississippi on the roster.

Time will tell if Notre Dame’s rare venture into Mississippi and their bet on Caleb Offord pays off, but for now it gives the Irish commitments for three fo the likely five scholarships they have open in the secondary for 2020 and another versatile defensive back prospect to work with.

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