On National Signing Day, we gave a review of the 2015 class and our scores for each player. Starting with this post about the offensive backfield, we're going to dive a bit deeper into position groups and give you our detailed projections for each member of the class. Enjoy!
The transcript of Coach Brian Kelly's press conference on national signing day can be found here.
|Irish Offensive Backfield Signees|
|.978||Brandon Wimbush||Hackensack, NJ||6-2/210||Quarterback|
|.955||Dexter Williams||Winter Garden, FL||6-0/200||Running Back|
|.897||Josh Adams||Warrington, PA||6-2/210||Running Back|
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 times as listed on UND.com
(Hackensack, NJ - St. Peter's Prep) - 6'2"/210
OFD Average: 94
Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:
Brandon Wimbush out of St. Peter's Prep. There again, another team that won the state championship. You know, Brandon has as a quarterback you have to have a presence about him and he has an incredible presence and a leadership presence about him where he makes others around him better. He lights up the room. He's a thermometer guy. The temperature in the room rises when he's in it because he has such a great presence about him.
He's got a great skill set. I love his footwork. What we liked early on when we watched him, it changed in his senior year. He became more disciplined at everything he did. His coaching staff did a great job of really working on his footwork. He's got a strong arm. He's a great one runner he's a duel threat, he possesses all the tools to run the offense at its highest level, so just a special player.
I like Golson. I like Zaire. I like Kizer. But man oh man, I can't wait to see this kid get his turn - he is tailor-made for Kelly's offense. Strong, accurate arm, instinctive and decisive runner, competitor, leader. He'll most likely redshirt this year and learn the offense, then make the backup competition for 2016 interesting. Fun with stats: In his state-champion senior year, Wimbush completed 71.6% of his passes for 12.2 yards per attempt and 31 touchdowns against just four interceptions - three of which came in one half of the state semifinal when he was missing a contact lens. The kid can chuck it.
With all apologies to Gunner Kiel, Malik Zaire, and Everett Golson, this is the most talented quarterback recruited by Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. Wimbush has ideal size for the college game and the near total package for a franchise-type of quarterback among major conference programs. His long wind up sticks out as his biggest weakness. He’s very calm in the pocket but I’d like to see a little bit more agility and quick feet before throwing. I’m very curious to see how he handles this early on in his career. Wimbush might not be an elite athlete, however, he rivals Zaire in power mixed with speed and should be a very productive dual-threat quarterback. There have been some Irish recruits coming in lately with strong arms and Wimbush looks to have perhaps the strongest of them all. As a passer his accuracy and arm talent look exceptional for his age. If this were 2010 he could be a four-year starter. A redshirt season appears likely but after that I don’t know how much longer you can keep this kid off the field.
Jamie U: 94
I broke down the top 40 or so quarterbacks from the 2015 recruiting class and Wimbush is right up there near the top of the list. He's not the tallest quarterback, but he's physically ready to play college football tomorrow. His arm strength has always been exceptional, but he took a nice step forward as a senior in terms of going through progressions in the pocket. As an athlete, he can certainly move the chains with his feet, but it's feet in the pocket that most impressed me. His mechanics are extremely sound and he does an oustanding job of staying balanced. That is what makes him an accurate passer. If the Irish weren't as deep at the position, then Wimbush may have even been able to compete for playing time right away in his career, but he's more than likely looking at a redshirt year to start. I wouldn't be surprised to see him jump some other players on the depth chart as time goes on though. If he is Notre Dame's quarterback of the future, then the future should be very bright.
Jim Miesle: 94
I would grade him higher, but he is at least a year a way from seeing the field. Wimbush is the most complete and talented QB that Brian Kelly has recruited and could be starting as early as 2016.
Wimbush has the tools you can't coach - a cannon arm, great speed for the position, and toughness - I loved seeing the highlights from the state title game where Wimbush stepped up at the most critical moments. Throws a great deep ball - if anything worries me it's accuracy and touch on more technical short to medium throws. As a runner he doesn't dance much, but cuts well and has enough speed to pick up big yardage. There's going to be some intense competition after what should be a redshirt season, but Wimbush seems like he combines some of the best traits of the many talented QBs that will be on campus in 2015.
(Winter Garden, FL - West Orange) - 6'0"/200
OFD Average: 90
Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:
Dexter Williams out of Winter Garden, Florida, another outstanding back. We were looking to get a second back in this class, and we felt like Dexter gave us that break away back that we wanted, and his second level speed.
But his quickness into the hole and then acceleration, one of the things that separated him from the other backs that we recruited; and we love his family, his mom and dad were extremely supportive of him leaving Florida and coming up here. He knows that his experience at Notre Dame is going to benefit him greatly, not only in the short term but in the long term. So we look forward to having Dexter here and developing him as both a student and an athlete.
The angst over the running back position in this class was well-founded, but adding Williams should sweep all of it away. The Florida product is just a hair behind Ronald Jones - not quite as fast, not quite as agile, but more powerful - and Irish fans should be overjoyed that he signed on the dotted line. He'll step into the very shallow running back depth chart ready to contribute as a frosh.
Impressive athlete with a compact torso and long arms and legs. He can use those long legs to run away from defenders with very good open field speed. Williams is very effective when he makes one cut and can fly through the hole. Shows decent patience and has pretty good vision. Reminds me of Cierre Wood. He could improve his ability to make a defender miss and various jump-cut abilities. His change of direction is a little stiff. Breaks arm tackles well, but doesn’t display enough ability to break tackles when a defender can get their body on him. Has the one-cut ability to run well in between the tackles but might struggle early on in his career when not being able to kick things outside. Runs hard but will need more strength, power, and be under a little more control as a disciplined every-down back once he becomes an upperclassman.
Jamie U: 90
I like Williams more than some other people, mostly because I think he isn't just a player who bounces outside to try and hit the homerun all the time. He certainly has the speed to that every once in awhile, but it's his ability to get skinny as an inside runner that I think makes him better than some other backs with higher rankings. His feet and balance also make him more than just a big play back. If he can pick up the offense, he could steal some carries away from Grey Bryant as a freshman.
Jim Miesle: 91
Williams is a bigger back with elite top-end speed. As we have seen with other backs, his playing time will be dictated by his ability to play in all phases--including receiving and blitz pick-up.
While I'm really glad that the staff was able to add a second quality running back, I'm slightly lower on Williams as the rest of the group. The upside? He's one of the best athletes at the position in this class - great acceleration and top end speed. My (minor concern) is similar to what Greg Bryant struggled with at times this past season - trying to hit a home run on every play when a single will do. I think it will take a little bit of time for Williams to adjust to faster opponents that can contain him on outside runs, but only the best ND opponents will have those type of athletes.
(Warrington, PA - Bucks Central) - 6'2"/210
OFD Average: 86
Brian Kelly's thoughts from the signing day press conference:
Running back, Josh Adams out of Central Bucks South High School, just had an unbelievable senior year after not playing in his junior year. You know, what we loved about Josh, first of all, character, his unselfishness, humble, team approach.
Just all those things really stood out for us and then a guy that in a lot of degrees has not even tapped what he can do at the position. He has not played a lot of football, and at 6 2, 210 pounds, we think he can be with the speed that he possesses, we think he can be whatever he wants to be. We can't wait to develop him. Great speed, great size, and has the ability with our weight training to be that kind of big, physical back that we are looking for.
For the last two years, we've watched Cam McDaniel be the hammer - all 5'10" and 205 pounds (maybe) of him. Cam played the role admirably, but was miscast and it ultimately caused problems at times. For all the talk about Kelly's bad luck with the quarterback position, he hasn't exactly been charmed with power backs either - since Hughes graduated after Kelly's first season, we've lost Cam Roberson to medical hardship and Will Mahone to off-field issues, and the light just never came on for George Atkinson. True, it doesn't affect the offense like the quarterback issues do, but it's a problem. Enter Josh Adams, who at 6'2" and 210 pounds already should be able to fill that role. He ran roughshod over his competition this year, and while the competition may have been suspect his ability isn't. He'll need to earn the trust of the staff quickly, but in our sparse running back depth chart I could see him assuming that power back role right away.
We’ve got a good athlete here who shows decent hands out of the backfield. He’s a little long for my taste at tailback--and while I loathe putting anyone inside the ‘power back’ box description based on size--I think he’ll need to develop a lot more physicality in college before he’s a regular in the rotation. I like Adams’ ability to make a guy miss. He also cuts well and can get up-field quickly when he decides that’s what he wants to do. My biggest concern is probably a lack of top-end speed and a lack of dynamic feet. I’m curious to see if he develops into a bigger back who isn’t used for his speed or if he stays more of a lean, get-to-the-edge type of back who improves his speed and can be more explosive in college.
Jamie U: 87
Adams recovered nicely from his knee injury as a junior, which is really encouraging for his career at Notre Dame. He's a long strider with good speed and catches the ball really well. I'm always pleasantly surprised by his feet and his lateral agility when I watch him and for that reason, I don't want to see him get too big. He can run with power and hopefully maintain what he can do now if he gets to around 220. If he gets any bigger, I'm a little worried that his game might change a bit in a way that might not be as good for him. He has the talent to be an every down back for the Irish later in his career.
Jim Miesle: 89
I am probably a bit more bullish on Adams than most, as I think he can be a great compliment to the Folston/Bryant combo. He has the size to grow into the power back option, but has the ability to be an every down player.
I was a little worried when Adams was the only back in this class, but with Williams aboard I really like him as a high-risk high-reward offer. Bad injury luck plagued Adams in high school, but his senior year he showed why he had already earned an ND offer, even coming off of an ACL tear. He has an upright running style, and is going to need a little bit of time to carve out a role as a short-yardage back, as right now it seems like he's a little better running outside the tackles. Overall Adams adds some much needed depth to the position and just by virtue of having a much bigger body than anyone on the current roster has an opportunity moving forward to separate himself.