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2016 Football Recruiting: QB and RB Review

In the first installment of a six-part series, we'll dig a little deeper into the offensive backfield in the 2016 class.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports


On National Signing Day, we gave a review of the 2016 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
247C Score Player City/State Ht/Wt. Position 1* 2* 3* 4* 5*
.893 Tony Jones Bradenton, FL 5-11/216 Running Back
.868 Ian Book El Dorado Hills, CA 6-1/200 Quarterback
.853 Deon McIntosh Fort Lauderdale, FL 5-11/175 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


RB Tony Jones

OFD Average: 89.0

Brendan: 90

I know he doesn't have top-end speed, but I absolutely love Tony and I can't wait to see him hit the field for the Irish. He has remarkable agility for his size, soft hands, good power, good pass blocking. Actually, let me adjust one of those - he doesn't have remarkable agility for his size, he has remarkable ability, period. He's going to leave some broken ankles on that Notre Dame turf. In fact, he reminds me a little bit of Ray Zellars; I could see him as a do-everything fullback in a Lou Holtz offense (harrumph). He's the prototype of the guy who isn't elite at anything, but is really good at everything and coaches love him because of it. I also think he has the personality to be a leader in this class, which we saw a little of already on the recruiting trail. Plus, he gets bonus points for opening the door at IMG Academy.

Eric: 86

An efficient runner who doesn't waste motion with jukes. He's fluid and doesn't hesitate to stick his foot in the ground, even to quickly re-direct in traffic. He has an innate ability to get skinny, move away from defenders to change tackling angles, and make people miss. Jones is tough to bring down with a combination of determination and balance. In fact, he has wonderful balance for his size due to his large and powerful legs. He's a competent all-around package with good hands and a willing blocker. I'm still worried about his lack of speed and how a college weight room changes his body. There just isn't going to be a large margin for error at Notre Dame being surrounded by teammates with better speed and big play ability. If he can re-work his upper body and stay around his current weight there's a chance he develops into a starter down the road as he accentuates his athleticism. If he's adding 20-25 pounds I think his ceiling will be limited in the future. The fact that he's different than other Irish backs is seen as positive by most but to me it's a negative. If you take the package right now and just make that better Jones is going to be a factor. Being a 'power back' might sound good in recruiting but within the Irish offense it's an indirect way of saying his carries will be limited. I don't necessarily think he should be resigned to that future.

Jamie U: 91

I think many people underrate Jones Jr. as an athlete. He is faster and has quicker feet than you'd expect for a back his size. No one is going to confuse him to be a burner, but he will hit the truck stick and run over a kid who isn't ready to take him on. I love his all-around game. He catches the ball really well, is very advanced with his blitz pickup, and runs with authority. He finishes runs. I'm not worried about how he compares to other backs on the roster. I like how he is different than other backs on the roster. That is going to help him get on the field earlier in my opinion and he may end up being a solution in short yardage and goal-line. Honestly, I think this kid could be a heck of a linebacker if he wanted too as well. He is just a really good football player who will find a role and do well in that role.


QB Ian Book

OFD Average: 86.0

Brendan: 84

At this point Book looks like he might be the steal of a diamond-in-the-rough laden class. He played against excellent competition in California and absolutely shredded it his senior year, passing for over 3,000 yards at a 70.5% completion rate, to go with 30 touchdowns against 5 interceptions. Oh yeah, and he ran for 779 yards and 12 scores as well. As Adam Sandler would say, not too shabby. One thing is for certain - I knew Tommy Rees, and this man, sir, is no Tommy Rees. He's a perfect bridge guy between two elite quarterbacks, and maybe more than that; remember, that's the same thing we once said about Deshone Kizer. I don't know that he'll win the starting job at any point, but I think he'll make a mark before he leaves Notre Dame.

Eric: 86

Book looks really polished and ready to develop in a college offense. I'd thought he'd be more raw but was surprised with his tools among his arsenal. His arm strength isn't great but should be serviceable. He sells play-action really, really well and looks very comfortable in a spread offense. Book excels with the read option and hopefully this continues at the next level. He has good quickness, vision, and cutting ability in the open field. Not super fast but someone who should be a weapon as a runner. I like that he's not afraid of contact. Footwork and fundamentals within the pocket look solid and he doesn't waste time escaping the pocket when he needs to and really throws well on the run. Book has a calmness about him with the havoc going around him that I really like. Seems more than competent with his accuracy. A lot to like here. Maybe not a future NFL player but someone with the tools to be a very good college quarterback.

Jamie U: 88

Tommy Rees' name got thrown out a lot when Book committed, which is strange because I don't think they have much in common as prospects. Book is a very good athlete that does a fantastic job throwing in the face of and escaping pressure. He shows above average arm strength and a lot of that is due to his mechanics being so consistent. I don't see him being limited like Rees' was in terms of making throws down the field. To me, size is the only real limitation for him, but we saw Everett Golson have plenty of success in this system being and undersized player in the pocket. If he was a couple of inches taller, I think he would have been a no doubt 4 star. He has the talent to play at Notre Dame. The only thing that might hold him back from doing so is the competition he'll have to face in the classes above and behind him.


RB Deon McIntosh

OFD Average: 81.0

Brendan: 84

I wrestled with this grade a bit, but ultimately resisted the urge to have him a little lower. I think McIntosh has plus athleticism and toughness, which gives him a floor of "solid contributor." He also continues the theme the last few years of getting running backs with above-average speed; McIntosh doesn't have that elite sixth gear, but he has a nice burst and enough speed to make you pay if he gets out in the open. He could be a nice option both in the backfield and in the slot with his speed, shiftiness, and running style.

Note: I watched the signing day video and Denson almost made me want to go back and revise my grade - I can imagine how well he does in a recruit's living room. CJ Prosise? That's some high praise right there.

Eric: 78

McIntosh is bit of a weird looking runner. He's short but has long limbs. Looks like a miniature version of Ryan Grant. Runs hard like his hair is on fire but needs to be under control more often. The desire to run hard is really evident, with some fine tuning on his vision and patience he'll improve as a runner. McIntosh is going to be a really raw running back prospect. He has good moves and some wiggle but appears more like a back-lot athlete who is relying mostly on instinct than a set of running back skills that will translate immediately to college football. Possesses good speed and will need to develop other areas of his game so that he can use that speed at the next level. Physically, he looks well developed and muscular but with his height doesn't look very big. I don't see a ton of room for added weight which explains why many think he's more of a slot receiver prospect. McIntosh is a good athlete and someone we can afford to sit for a couple years and see where he fits into the offense. He could be a candidate for the return game at some point but would have to beat out several other bigger and more athletic options available to Notre Dame.

Jamie U: 81

I don't see McIntosh developing into an every down back. I'm a bit worried about his frame and how big he can get. I do think he is a much tougher inside runner than his size would suggest. He's got a natural lean to his running style. I think he has the speed and lateral agility to be a dangerous player out in space. I like his ability as a receiver quite a bit. I'm not sure if he'll ever be a guy who gets a lot of touches, but he could be the kind of player who really maximizes his touches with big chunk yardage. He's a nice compliment to Tony Jones Jr. in this class.