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In every recruiting class I have a favorite addition. It's usually not the best player, but one who is unique in some way, has flown under the radar, or I feel like is underrated. In this class there's a lot of players I really like that fit that mold - Julian Love was a close runner-up - but Chase Claypool is my favorite 2016 commit.
Every scouting report on Claypool mentions a lot of the same things, and they're all positives in my book:
At 6'5 (even an inch taller on some sites) and 215 lbs with plenty of room to grow with Paul Longo and a training table, Claypool seems to be a prototype"Big Skill" player in Brian Kelly's recruiting classification. In high school Claypool looks like a man among boys, and even at The Opening against some of the top recruits in the nation he was a physical mismatch. If he stays at wide receiver (or grows into a tight end) he's the favorite to come down with any jump ball and could develop into the next great blocker at wide receiver, where Chris Brown and Will Fuller were both excellent last year.
What makes Claypool a special athlete is that he combines he size with solid speed and excellent agility and change of direction for someone with his build. At the opening he ran a 4.66 in the 40 and registered a 35" vertical jump. Most scouting reports describe him as raw - he will likely need some work on technique with the Irish coaches - but Brian Kelly has a very good track record finding the best position (or changing positions) with young talent.
Could Claypool end up at outside linebacker, or even a pass-rushing defensive end? He definitely has the length and athleticism to become an impact player on either side of the ball (Oregon was likely the runner-up in his recruitment, and wanted him at OLB), and position changes worked extremely well for Troy Niklas and KeiVarae Russell. It's intriguing to see what the coaching staff will end up seeing as his best position and just how high his ceiling could be.
He's probably the best recruit in the country, eh? Level of competition could be seen as a concern for Claypool, but he's complimented his experience in the real BC with strong performances at regional and national camps over the last year. If Claypool is in Washington or Oregon, he might have been recruited far earlier by local schools (or felt stronger regional ties) and ended up somewhere other than South Bend. A strength for Notre Dame in recruiting Canadians is that the negative recruiting pitches about cold weather and snow have zero effect.