Notre Dame received its 10th commitment in the 2016 recruiting class today when safety Spencer Perry pledged to the Irish. Perry is listed at 6'3" and 202 pounds; the 247 Composite has him as the #504 overall player, #28 safety, and #73 player in Florida. Perry was committed to Florida but, after visiting South Bend for Irish Invasion, backed out of his Florida pledge and rumors quickly began to swirl that his commitment to Notre Dame was imminent.
Agent? I don't need no stinking agent...
I will be open for interviews at 8pm. Go IRISH— A.$.A.P Perry (@Black___Jesus7) June 29, 2015
Perry is now the current and future teammate of 2016 RB Tony Jones; together, they are the first football commitments to the Irish from Florida prep powerhouse IMG Academy. Perry has said that he wants to attend law school; that pre-existing focus on academics no doubt made the staff's job quite a bit easier.
Also, a quick depth chart/class composition note: Notre Dame now has three defensive backs in the 2016 class who they feel very good about - cornerback Julian Love, free safety/swingman Jalen Elliott, and strong safety Spencer Perry. The target has always been five defensive backs total with an emphasis on versatility; Devin Studstill or Ikenna Okeke, who could play either safety position, could well take one remaining spot, which would leave the staff sitting pretty to nab a corner they really like for the other slot.
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals - 3 star (5.7 rating), NR overall, #39 position, #56 in Florida
247 - 3 star (87 rating), #663 overall, #50 position, #84 in Florida
ESPN - 4 star (80 rating), NR overall, #30 position, #66 in Florida
Scout - 3 star, NR overall, #58 position, #3 in Florida
247 Composite - 3 star (0.8672 rating), #504 overall, #28 position, #73 in Florida
In addition to Notre Dame, the Auburn, AL native (yes, you read that right) holds offers from Arizona, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ohio State, and Oregon, among others.
His Hudl page says he runs a 4.49 40 - as with any recruiting 40 time, who knows how accurate that is, but what I can be sure about after watching his tape is that he closes FAST. When he attacks his target, he shows a great combination of anticipation, patience, and burst to cut down angles very quickly. And when he gets there, he lays the wood - as Ref Dennis Hopper would say, he doesn't hear the footsteps, man, he is the footsteps, man. When he tackles in the open field he looks like a lion bringing down a wildebeest; he just latches on and inexorably drags his prey to the ground.
At the 4:00 mark of the video, you can see a few plays of him in coverage. He looks fine in opening up and running with receivers, but perhaps what's most notable about that stretch is that it's three or four plays out of maybe two dozen in the whole highlight reel. Perry definitely profiles as a strong safety, and a big one at that, so if there are any questions mark about him it's how quickly he'll be able to adjust to coverage at the next level. He's athletic and very intelligent, though, so I'm optimistic about what Todd Lyght can do with his technique.
Given the depth chart, Perry and any other 2016 safeties will probably have a chance to work their way into the rotation as true freshmen. In 2016, Elijah Shumate will be gone and Max Redfield, perish the thought, could leave for the NFL that spring. Likely starters would be Drue Tranquill and Mykelti Williams, believe it or not, with Ashton White and perhaps fifth-year Nicky Baratti in the two deep. Perry could end up playing a role similar to Drue Tranquill in 2014 - spot duty as a safety or hybrid linebacker.
Long Term / Career
There are a lot of long-term possibilities for Perry. If he stays lean and hones his coverage skills, he could become a multi-year starter at strong safety. If he bulks up say 10-15 pounds - hardly unlikely - he could slide down to SAM or perhaps even fill a super-hybrid role like Florida State's Jalen Ramsey or former Irish stalwart Jamoris Slaughter. Whatever happens, it seems a safe bet that Perry will be in the mix for the Irish for a substantial portion of his career.
Welcome to the family, Spencer!