Reviewing the Redshirts is an off-season series meant to resurrect discussion around the current Irish freshmen who did not play in 2015.
There were 11 players this past year who retained a year of eligibility and today we look at a 4-star lineman from Ohio.
DT, Elijah Taylor
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
247 Sports COMPOSITE RANKING:
4-star, No. 21 DT, No. 15 OH, No. 318 USA, 0.894 Score
Need at Position: High
Projected Spot on the 2016 Depth Chart: 3rd String/Backup
Notre Dame has brought in a lot of defenders since VanGorder became the coordinator in an effort to rebuild that side of the ball into more of an attacking unit. There's been a lot of young players to sort through and it can be easy to forget about some of these guys. For example, Elijah Taylor was a low 4-star and may be lost in the shuffle for some folks. Out of the 23 defensive recruits over the last cycles he's the 11th highest rated coming out of high school for Notre Dame! Here were my comments on him following last National Signing Day:
After the snap there's no doubt for me that Taylor is the best of the three linemen coming in this year. He's instinctual, gets off blocks really well, and has a nose for the ball. These are prime skills for a defensive lineman. My big issue is that Taylor is very slow off the ball. He's a split second behind his teammates in burst and reaction time in nearly every snap on film. This is largely an innate skill and bothers me in regards to his potential as a possible 3-tech lineman. In terms of body Taylor could be an effective slicing 3-tech but without an explosive burst he won't be able to fill that role and instead would be more of a gap eating prospect. I bumped him up just enough to become a starter at some point.
Our last RtR post covered Micah Dew-Treadway who we believe has already outgrown the 3-tech position. A large portion of his article was devoted to figuring out who would play Sheldon Day's old position. From a size perspective Elijah Taylor is that guy.
The only problem with that is Taylor looked like the opposite of a 3-tech tackle in high school in terms of explosiveness off the ball. A couple of explanations for that were Archbishop Moeller's passive defensive system and Taylor playing through a series of nagging injuries during his senior year.
For whatever it's worth, during Brian Kelly's NSD press conference last year he explicitly stated that Taylor's "get off was outstanding" and at times throughout his senior year he was unblockable. A bit of misdirection and pumping up a player's weakness or was there something the coaches knew that the general public missed?
I guess we'll find out soon just how much explosiveness Taylor can bring to the line and if he has the speed necessary to be a difference maker with the loss of Day. He was universally praised for his strength and physicality so that aspect shouldn't be a problem after a redshirt.
Additionally, the 3-tech position might be wide open depending on how the staff decides to rotate the experienced trio of Jarron Jones, Daniel Cage, and Jerry Tillery. At minimum, there should be backup snaps available in the spring so Taylor won't necessarily have to wait around to work himself ahead of some older veterans. This could be a huge set of practices coming up for him.