Welcome to the fourth edition of the six part, in-depth series on the 2013 Notre Dame football recruiting class. I unveiled the OFD average grades for the newest members of the Fighting Irish family after National Signing Day.
For reference, here are the previous pieces:
The third installment will focus on the defensive line: DE Jacob Matuska, DE Isaac Rochelle, and DT Eddie Vanderdoes.
Here are a few comments from Coach Kelly. Well, maybe more than a few:
Coach Kelly Signing Day Press Conference (via NotreDameAthletics)
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
(Columbus, OH - Bishop Hartley) - 6'5"/240/4.70
OFD Average: 81
2013 Jacob Matuska - Bishop Hartley - Jr yr - TE DE 82 - PROMO (via ScoutingOhio)
Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:
Jake Matuska, again, when you talk about he led his team to a 13 1 record, another winner, another guy that can play in the profile that we have at the defensive line position for us but is also versatile enough that he can play on the other side of the ball. Our target is to play him on the defensive side of the ball. He's going to physically get bigger and stronger. We just like his work ethic. We're really excited about him as a person. He's going to fit in well here at Notre Dame, and another young man that really adds to the depth that we're looking for in our program.
Matuska is an interesting DE/TE prospect and his future will likely be dictated by how he continues to develop physically. At 6'5" and 240lbs Matuska is definitely a little light to play defensive end in the 3-4 at the moment but I seem to remember Kapron Lewis-Moore arriving on campus even lighter than that. If for some reason he doesn't fill out that way then I expect him to end up being a blocking tight end/ H-Back type player. Is he a project? Who knows for sure? The expectations for Matuska are all over the map so I will be very curious to see how he shakes out.
Eric Murtaugh: 78
I have Matuksa as the lowest rated recruit in the class for a couple reasons. First, I don't know where he'll end up playing. Usually positional flexibility is great but I'm skeptical of his chances breaking the rotation on defensive line and seeing regular minutes. I don't see the explosiveness and athleticism for that to happen.
I think tight end would be a great spot but Jacob looks like he's not going to have any problems reaching 260+ pounds by the time 2013 rolls around. Ultimately, he's a project and should be someone that can offer depth on either side of the ball. My bet is that he turns in to a jumbo-sized blocking tight end or H-back, but he does have the long arms to eventually develop in to a solid defensive lineman.
Jim Miesle: 82
As the others stated, Matuska is appears to be a giant question mark when trying to project his career. He definitely fits the "Big Skill" profile, so he may end up changing positions after a season or two like Troy Niklas did. This has been brought up a few times since NSD, but BK had a guy named JJ Watt at Central Michigan who played tight end. I think BK sees some similar traits in Matuska and will skip the offensive experiment. Given some time to develop and add weight, there is a lot of upside for fans to be excited about.
(Mcdonough, GA - Eagle's Landing) - 6'5"/260
OFD Average: 91
ISAAC ROCHELL - #78 - ELCA FOOTBALL (via Jonathan Gess)
Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:
Isaac Rochell: Another state champion, Eagles Landing Christian High School. I got a chance to spend some time in the high school, and you could just sense the discipline and the faith, and the way the football program is run, it's a great fit, Isaac coming here to Notre Dame. I think Isaac is a guy that didn't play in lot of the postseason games and didn't get a ton of exposure. He's a fine football player. I mean, we're really excited as a staff to have Isaac Rochell. He's going to play on the defensive line, and he's going to impact this program. I think he's got a huge upside, and we're really excited about getting a player of this caliber here to Notre Dame.
Rochell doesn't pop off of the page like a Stephon Tuitt but he is a very solid prospect that I expect will develop into a very solid contributor as a 3-4 defensive end/. At 6'5" 260lbs he should have no issues getting close to 3 bills within a year. CBK and the staff appear to be pretty high on Rochell and referred to him as "a steal" on NSD. I see Rochell as a bit of a sleeper to push for time as a freshman.
Eric Murtaugh: 90
I like Rochell a lot although when you compare him to Tuitt, Day, Jones, or Lynch he does seem like just another quality defensive line recruit. Obviously that says a lot more about Notre Dame's recruiting in recent years than anything.
Rochell gets off blocks really well and shows the ability to get in the backfield and make tackles. His body-type is perfect for defensive end in this system: nice and tall with long arms and he'll be able to put on a lot of weight. I wonder how explosive he'll be in pass rushing situations but I think his basement is somewhere along the lines of what Kapron Lewis-Moore achieved in South Bend. If Rochell is quicker off the line then he might be even better than KLM.
Jim Miesle: 91
The Tuitt comparisons started early for Rochelle, thanks mainly to being from the same state. While he might not be the same athletic freak, I think he will definitely have a productive career for the Irish. Due to the late addition of Eddie Vanderdoes, I think Rochelle gets a year to add weight and get into the 285+ neighborhood. Eric compares him to KLM, which is fair and accurate. Overall, a great addition to this class and program.
(Auburn, CA - Placer) - 6'2"/310
OFD Average: 95
Eddie Vanderdoes Ultimate Highlight (via Maxprepssports)
There were no comments from Brian Kelly, as Vanderdoes had not yet announced his decision at the time of the press conference.
Vanderdoes is a big, physical defensive tackle that has the potential to come in and contribute right away. He can play any of the positions on the front 3 and I suspect that he will be able to work himself into the rotation as a freshman. Even more importantly Vanderdoes is the likely heir apparent to big Louis Nix III as the War Daddy that will anchor this defense after Nix moves on to the NFL. Is he elite? He will most likely prove to be.
Eric Murtaugh: 96
I was admittedly quite surprised to see the staff pull this talent in to South Bend late in the process. Vanderdoes can come in and immediately see time on the defensive line and really solidifies the depth chart up front. A few things jump out with him: His motor, strength, and explosion off the line. Those are 3 prime assets to have as an interior tackle.
He doesn't have ideal height (he looks MAYBE 6'2") but he'll be fine as a tackle because he's so strong. Seriously, he's just a huge person with pure man strength. Vanderdoes has the frame to get to about 320 and be as nimble as he is right now, although he might just get a little more muscular and not put on a ton of weight since he's plenty heavy already. I want to see how he fares against linemen as big as him and how much that affects his power moves, but he offers the quickness off the ball that will give opponents fits---just like Sheldon Day last cycle.
I think he'll play a lot as a freshman as an often-used backup. I don't think he'll have a problem beating out the likes of Springmann, Schwenke, and Hounshell for minutes. There will always be growing pains but Eddie is about as physically ready as any recruit is going to be.
Jim Miesle: 96
Remember when Notre Dame couldn't attract elite defensive talent? Yeah, those days appear to be long gone now. As the others pointed out, Vanderdoes will add immediate depth across the defensive line, likely being the primary backup for Louis Nix at NG. I think he will see similar minutes as a freshman as Sheldon Day did in '12 (roughly 30% of the snaps). He has an elite skill set with room to grow. A phenomenal job by the staff in getting him to sign with Notre Dame and he should have an instant impact on the defense.