Welcome to the final installment of a six part, in-depth series on the 2012 Notre Dame football recruiting class. I unveiled the OFD average grades for the newest members of the Fighting Irish family on the day after NSD.
The grades for QB and RB can be found here.
The grades for OL and LS can be found here.
The grades for DL and LB can be found here.
The grades for DBs, Part 1 can be found here.
The grades for DBs, Part 2 can be found here.
This installment focuses on the wide receivers: Justin Ferguson, Chris Brown and Davonte Neal.
The transcript from Coach Brian Kelly's press conference on national signing day can be found here.
Official OFD Recruit Grading Scale:
95-100: Elite impact freshman with All-American potential
90-94: Multi-year starter with All-conference potential
85-89: Eventual starter with chance to play as underclassman
80-84: Raw prospect with decent potential but a couple years away from impact
75-79: Likely a backup
70-74: Reach by the coaching staff
Note: All Height/Weight/40 times as listed on 247Sports.com
WR Justin Ferguson
Hollywood, FL - Flanagan -- 6'1"/205/4.62
OFD Average: 86
#15 Justin Ferguson WR Flanagan High c/o 2012 (via genron187)
More after the jump.
Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:
As we talked about addressing the wide receiver position, Justin Ferguson out of Pembroke Pines, for us, a dynamic player with the ball in his hands. He can make things happen. He's physical, strong, but more importantly what we like about it is the yards after catch.
He has great front line speed, but the things he does with the football after the catch were probably the things that attracted us the most to him. A skilled player, but, again, yards after catch, the ability to break into the second level and separate himself. He's got the ability to be that big play wide receiver, guy that can catch it and go. Again, one of the top wide receivers in the country.
Ferguson is an intriguing and physical prospect that already has a great frame at 6'1" and 205lbs. I see Ferguson as a guy that could come on and be a great "possession receiver" that quietly kills you on screens and quick slant type routes with some YAC.
Very underrated prospect with great skill-set. Physicality and strength are through the roof for his age. Has the size and determination to play right away. Still very raw and may need an adjustment period in a college offense. Number one receiver potential, but could settle in as one of the country's best number two wideouts. His size is sorely needed in the receiving corps.
He was kind of the forgotten man in this class behind Deontay Greenberry and with the rumors about Davonte Neal swirling the past few weeks, no one has really talked about Ferguson. But he could turn out to be a very good player for the Irish. He has pretty good size, and while he isn't as fast as Chris Brown, he can still outrun some people. I don't know if he can make the same impact in 2012 everyone everyone thought DGB would have, but he could catch a lot of passes in his career.
Ferguson split us right down the middle and reflects what the services think-some are high, some not as much. I think he is a great combination of size, speed and strength. He looks faster than his 4.6 40 time on film and is very physical after the catch. He reminds many of Michael Floyd, seeing as he has a very similar game. With the signing day loss of Greenberry, Ferguson likely gets a better shot at making a contribution as a freshman, so it will be interesting to see what he does with the opportunity.
WR Chris Brown
Charleston, SC - Hanahan -- 6'2"/170/4.44
OFD Average: 84
SC 2012 WR Chris Brown #2 .wmv (via GoHardIncorporated)
Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:
Chris Brown, wide receiver from South Carolina. You know, here is a young man that had a short senior season because of injury, and I think if we were talking from an NFL standpoint, and I was the general manager after draft day, we would consider this young man a "steal" of the draft. We believe he has a skill set that we do not have currently on this football team. As you know he's also a top triple jumper in the nation. He's got great explosiveness, good size at 6 2. He's a guy that can take the quick short pass and turn it into a touchdown. Could be a 5 yard completion, and he can take it the rest of the way. He has size and he's got speed, and he hasn't come close to his potential. We're excited about Chris Brown, a great young man.
I see Brown as a bit of a wildcard in the short term. He is light at 170 but he is an extremely fast and gifted athlete. He needs some polishing but could emerge as a real playmaker a couple of years down the road.
Fantastic combination of size and speed. Underrated talent with blazing quickness and great athleticism. Will need more polish as a receiver at the next level. Has a wiry but muscular frame certainly in need of some extra weight. His vertical threat ability will push him on the field earlier than most think.
Very fast. Probably projects best as a slot receiver, but I could see him playing outside as well if someone else locks down the slot position. He'll bring speed to the wide receiver position, something Notre Dame hasn't had since Golden Tate left.
I agree with BK on this one-I think this kid is an absolute steal. His recruiting was probably hurt by playing against lower-level competition and an injury, but I think he has all the tools to be something special in college. Depending on how he performs in camp, he could see some action as a freshman. I personally can't wait to see him play, as his speed will really help open up the offense.
WR/ATH Davonte Neal
Paradise Valley, AZ-Chaparral -- 5'9"/170/4.49
OFD Average: 95
Davonte Neal Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
Davonte was an electric playmaker in high school and was capable of making the big play any time he had the ball in his hands. He excelled as a receiver, as a running back and as a returner for Coach (Charlie) Ragle at Chaparral High School. I imagine we'll use him in a similar fashion here.
Davonte is a great complement for our 2012 recruiting class," Kelly said. "As I said almost three weeks ago, we wanted to add more skill players to our team and we did a nice job of doing that. I look forward to coaching Davonte and the rest of his class this fall.
Give me all of the playmakers! Landing Neal is a fantastic late addition to this class. This kid could be lined up in a variety of places and could be ripping off yards in big chunks as early as this fall. Outstanding pickup.
Freakishly quick athlete with phenomenal foot speed and acceleration. Great vision with elite burst through the hole and on his cuts. Smaller body with good muscle bulk, big legs and room for added weight. Plays with a tenacity that far exceeds his size. Could play corner or receiver and will immediately demand playing time in the return game. Style resembles a more physical version of Oregon's DeAnthony "Black Mamba" Thomas. Could be the most electric athlete the moment he steps on campus. Tremendous agility and breakaway speed. Polished route runner who could start in the slot very quickly. Perfect athlete for the transition to Chuck Martin's offense.
His highlight reel will leave your jaw lying on the floor. He's just absolutely absurd with the ball in space. He could be a Golden Tate clone, and that's all you need to know about him.
He is an absolutely electric playmaker on both sides of the football. Likely projects to the slot, where he will create mismatches for the offense on nearly every down. He should make an immediate impact on special teams and see some snaps in the revamped offense. Very similar to Ryan Broyles, or more appropriately for Notre Dame Fans-Golden Tate 2.0.