Notre Dame got some good news at The Opening today when physical specimen and British Columbian Chase Claypool became the 12th commitment in the 2016 class. At The Opening regional event in Oregon, Claypool measured 6'5" and 213 pounds with a 4.66 40 yard dash time. The 247 Composite has him as the #331 overall player, #55 wide receiver, and #1 player in Canada. Claypool is the kind of exceptional athlete that a coaching staff will design a role for; the Irish staff will start him at his preferred position of wide receiver, but he has the potential to end up at tight end, safety, defensive end, or outside linebacker as well.
As Claypool has gained exposure in camps, he has caught the eye of more and more coaching staffs. Irish Invasion was no exception, where he did this against four-star corner Eric Cuffee:
Chase's commitment makes the receiver picture very interesting for Notre Dame in this cycle. With Claypool and Kevin Stepherson, who the staff is similarly high on, in the class already, there's only one pure receiver spot left with multiple highly-rated players interested in the Irish. Javon McKinley is possibly in the top spot on the coaches' board, which means the last slot is his if he wants it and will be held for him. There are other prospects rumored to be high on the Irish; will Notre Dame actually turn away a very talented player?
Recruiting Service Rankings
Expect Claypool to make a big jump the next time rankings are updated - he has really made a name for himself on the camp circuit.
Rivals - 3 star (5.6 rating), NR overall, #96 position, NR in British Columbia
247 - 3 star (88 rating), #378 overall, #65 position, #1 in British Columbia
ESPN - 4 star (81 rating), #224 overall, #33 position, #1 in British Columbia
Scout - 4 star, #280 overall, #15 position (TE), #1 in British Columbia
247 Composite - 3 star (0.8890 rating), #331 overall, #55 position, #1 in British Columbia
In addition to Notre Dame, Claypool also holds offers from Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Oregon, and Tennessee, among others. All the schools named have offered since April - like we said, his recruitment has been getting warmer quickly. Oregon and Michigan in particular really wanted him.
From the first play, you can see remarkable agility for a guy who's 6'5". In fact, if he hadn't been measured at that height repeatedly at camps I might not believe it after seeing his highlights - a guy that big shouldn't be able to move like that. In the open field he runs with fluid, long strides that gobble up yardage quickly. He catches the ball well in traffic, he welcomes contact, and he's very difficult to bring down. And the adjustment ability he showed against Cuffee wasn't a one-hit wonder - check the 3:42 mark to see an absurd one-on-two catch on an underthrown ball, and back-to-back catches on well-covered fades starting at 4:44. You can even see some big hits peppered in when he's playing safety.
Based on the highlight reel I'm not really sure what he has to work on; my instinct would be to say route running, though. He runs the occasional tunnel screen, but mostly he seems to have his number called on go and post routes. That's not unusual for supremely athletic high schoolers, and it's something that's easy enough to improve with coaching and hard work. Beyond the highlight reel, the consensus among actual recruiting analysts is that he's a five-star athlete who needs serious work on technique - so expect Denbrock to put in some work rounding Chase into shape.
Notre Dame has an embarrassment of riches at the receiver position, which could make early playing time hard to come by for even the most talented and polished prospects. Claypool might have the opportunity to redshirt, especially with similar targets like Equanimeous St. Brown and Alize Jones already on campus. Then again, the staff loves him and he may get a chance to find the field earlier than expected - it's hard to project.
Long Term / Career
Not surprisingly, it's even harder to project Claypool's long-term future at Notre Dame. He could certainly blow everyone away at receiver and become a significant contributor there, but the consensus among analysts seems to be that his ultimate home will be on defense. There's weaker consensus on where exactly on defense he'll end up, but again, it seems most think his best position is outside linebacker. Whatever his job is down the line, Claypool has plenty of physical talent and he'll find a home somewhere on the field, where he'll likely shine.
Welcome to the family, Chase!