Reviewing the Redshirts is back with yet another installment. Yesterday Burgs' covered another offensive linemen while I get to have all the fun covering more playmakers and tacklers.
So far we've talked about the following players who sat out 2011:
Next up is a player that definitely qualifies for sleeper status in the 2011 class.
MLB Anthony Rabasa
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Rivals: No. 11 Weakside Defensive End, No. 54 Florida
ESPN: No. 12 Defensive End, No. 123 ESPNU 150, Grade: 80
Scout: No. 50 Defensive End
247: No. 14 OLB, No. 48 Florida, Grade: 91
Need at Position: Low to Medium
Expected Spot on 2012 Depth Chart: Third-String, Special Teams Mainstay
Rabasa was a fascinating prospect from the 2011 class because he seemed to take turns being raved about by recruitniks, and then slipping into the background of a terrific front seven haul by the Irish.
Complicating matters was the fact that Rabasa played defensive end in high school, was rated at that position by most services, with most sure he didn't have the size to play anywhere but linebacker in college.
This time last year the safe money was on Rabasa playing the Cat linebacker position with his hand on the ground. After all, that would allow him to use his greatest asset---pass rushing and explosiveness off the edge.
Now it appears that Rabasa will begin his Notre Dame career as a middle linebacker. Since Werewolf was the only true middle linebacker from the 2011 class, coupling him with Rabasa might not be a bad idea.
Anthony missed most of last year following early-season shoulder surgery so we've yet to see him do much in practice or get much comment from the coaches on his progress.
Here was Brian Kelly's comments on Rabasa from National Signing Day last year:
"Anthony Rabasa, big skill player for us, linebacker. Big skill. He's got some flexibility at 6'3" and a half, 233. He's out of Christopher Columbus High School out of Miami, Florida. I think he's playing in the U.S.A. versus the World All Star game here today, I believe. And, again, another young man that we believe, when you look at his film, his motor, his ability to go every snap really was what we loved about him. And his first step quickness here.
You can see it, it's pretty apparent as he comes off the edge against pretty good competition. You see him with his hand down quite a bit. He's a guy that can obviously stand up for us as well and gives us great flexibility. He's going to get bigger, he's going to get stronger.
First step is extremely explosive off the ball. Watch him bend the hoop here, drop the shoulder, can bend very well. Takes this arc nice and tight to the quarterback.
Hard to see him inside here, but you'll see his ability to get to the quarterback. Again, the left defensive end here. Another good illustration of his ability to redirect here and close.
Very gifted athlete. Anthony Rabasa out of Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida."
The thing that keeps coming up with Rabasa is his explosiveness off the edge, so it is a little curious that he would be getting work at middle linebacker.
Nevertheless, Rabasa could bring a hellish combination of size and speed to the inside spot that is really lacking in the present outside of Manti Te'o.
If nothing else, he'll bring a ton of flexibility to the linebacker position.
If he has the necessary speed and instincts, Rabasa could move over to the Dog linebacker spot. If he continues to add size and weight, a long-term switch to the more familiar Cat linebacker spot might be a good idea.
For 2012, Rabasa will probably be a heavily-used special teams player and might excel in that role. With Te'o, Calabrese, and Fox primed to eat most of the minutes, it will probably be very difficult for Rabasa to see the field at middle linebacker, but he's probably best-served easing into his new position and getting used to the speed at the college level anyway after missing most of 2011.
Keep an eye on No. 56 this spring.