I'm always excited whenever a recruit commits to Notre Dame when it's known that it is his dream school.
To me, it's always a great story for someone to come in loving the Irish and then knowing that they will get to run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium. It also means that we won't get to hear how Notre Dame was that kid's dream school while he is having a career game live on NBC. Those are never fun games when that happens.
Fortunately, we'll never have to experience that with Julian Love as the Irish coaching staff offered him and he committed last Saturday. He'll be making plays for Notre Dame and he has the potential to contribute in a lot of ways.
What I like most about Love as a player is his versatility. He played both corner and safety for Nazareth Academy (Illinois) and showed good things at both spots. He also made a heck of a lot of plays as a running back/slot receiver, but since he is projected to play defensive back at Notre Dame, I'll stick with what he did there for now.
I'll start off with him at safety.
Love is the single high safety in this defense.
He opens up by dropping to the three receiver side of the formation, but has eyes on the inside receiver who appears to be running a post.
But as soon as he sees the quarterback locked in on that player, he is quick to drop his hips, plant and explode while looking to break up that post route.
He did such a great job reading the quarterback and breaking on the football that he puts himself in a position do more than just break up the play and jumps the route for an interception.
If you've watched any of Love's offensive highlights, then it won't shock you that he was able to finish the play by taking the interception back for six. He has that ability whenever he touches the football because of his speed and great vision when he gets into the open field.
Love is not the biggest guy (he's listed at 5'11" and 175), but he tackles like a player who is much bigger. I love his aggression in run support and it's another reason why I wouldn't have a problem with him playing safety. He's a very solid tackler.
Love is the furthest defensive back outside of the formation and that means he is the force player on this play. Essentially, it his job to make sure nothing gets outside of him or he forces the runner to keep the ball inside where there are more defenders that can make the tackle.
The first two screenshots show that there is going to be a back and a pulling guard that is going to lead on this play.
Now you can see on this next shot that this play is looking pretty good for the offense. There are going to have an ISO block on the force player (Love).
Love maintains outside leverage on the block. The guard was probably supposed to block one of those inside players, but now it looks like he is heading outside to block Love.
With the pursuit from the defense forcing the back to bounce it outside, Love needs to beat the block of the pulling guard and keep his responsibility.
Love is able to beat the block and finish the play by getting off the block and finish the tackle. To do his job, he had to defeat two blocks on the play. Not many corners can do that. It was an exceptional job by Love.
Both of those plays were great, but let's face it, if he's going to play cornerback in Brian VanGorder's defense, he is going to need to be able to play man coverage.
Love is matched up in man coverage about four yards off of the ball.
Right off the bat, Love puts himself at a disadvantage. He doesn't start into his backpedal. It's tough to see from this, but he took a hop step up and that's why the receiver has already closed the distance right off the snap. This is something he's not going to be able to get away with at Notre Dame.
Love does a nice job of recovering and is now step for step with the receiver.
Another technical mistake ends up almost burning Love though. When he turns his head to look back for the ball, he hesitated, and now the receiver has that small bit of separation.
Love makes up for it with how he tracks the ball in the air. He's almost like an outfielder the way he adjusts to the football and ultimately breaks up the pass.
The mistakes can be fixed with coaching. It's the tools he used to fix the mistakes on the fly that were exciting to watch to me.
There are other big, long corners that are on Notre Dame's board this recruiting cycle (Damar Hamlin being at the top of that list) that are higher ranked than Love. What makes Love a great pickup is the fact that he has other traits that make him a good prospect because he isn't that prototype big corner that programs covet.
He's a very good athlete that has great speed. He has great lateral agility and has the ability to stick his foot in the ground and explode to the football. He also tackles really well and is more physical than most players his size.
I don't know if he can be a press corner. (The only example of him playing press that I could find is this one clip from a Core 6 showcase from over a year ago). That question will need to be answered. If it happens that he can't at the level Notre Dame wants him to, the great thing about Love is that he can play other positions.
He may end up as a nickel covering slot receivers. With Notre Dame potentially short on safety depth, he may just end up at safety. His versatility is his greatest strength and is also a huge asset for the coaches at Notre Dame. Wherever he ends up at, I think he will have a chance to develop into a very good player in the Irish secondary.