Friday, December 9, 2011
Reviewing Irish's 2011 ESPNU 150 players
By Matt Fortuna
ESPN Recruiting took a look back this week at the 2011 ESPNU 150 class and how each player fared in his first year of college ball.
Several Notre Dame freshmen have made big impacts already. Others have yet to play. Let's take a look at what the recruiting experts had to say:
Notre Dame's Aaron Lynch proved that he can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks during his freshman season.
No. 15: Aaron Lynch, DE: "Aaron Lynch has exploded onto the scene in South Bend, drawing more personal fouls than coach Brian Kelly would approve of and dropping enough incendiary comments that he was sequestered from the media for November. But don't let those freshman mishaps belie the flashes of greatness he has shown. Lynch started five games for the Fighting Irish. Of his 28 tackles, 5½ were behind the line of scrimmage, including four sacks. He hurried the quarterback 13 times, forced a fumble and broke up two passes. The explosiveness is there. Now, Lynch must learn to be more disciplined, especially by staying in his gap, so he doesn't give up as many big plays as he makes."
Lynch has actually not spoken since late September, when he predicted Notre Dame could come up with 10 or more sacks against Pitt. Considering he was reminded in that question that Maine had recorded seven sacks against Pitt -- and considering he prefaced the answer by crediting Maine -- he earns the benefit of the doubt from this blogger. Still, the end has all the makings of a future NFL player and should be a star the rest of his college career.
No. 36: Matthew Hegarty, OT: "Hegarty redshirted this season for the Irish but impressed in scout team enough to get mention as a potential starter next year. The big lineman came to South Bend as a tackle but will be moved inside and could spend time at guard or even center next season."
No. 42: Ishaq Williams, DE: "Williams played spot duty this season, seeing time in 10 games at outside linebacker for the Irish. He finished the year with five tackles and also played on special teams. The Irish coaches are high on him and he's expected to be an impact player next season."
Plenty of upperclassmen ahead of Williams kept him from seeing the field more, but he will surely make an impact moving forward for the Irish.
No. 65: DaVaris Daniels, WR: "Daniels took a redshirt this season, even though he was the Irish's only receiver in their 2011 class. However, the Irish's depth chart looks ripe for the taking, and Daniels could be an impact player next season."
No. 77: Ben Koyack, TE: "Used more for blocking situations, Koyack has played in 11 games and started one. He caught one pass for 5 yards."
Mike Ragone's ACL tear allowed Koyack to see the field some more. If Tyler Eifert leaps to the NFL, the spotlight could be on Koyack next season.
No. 90: Stephon Tuitt, DE: "Tuitt played in eight games, starting three, and has taken over the starting end spot for the Fighting Irish. He has 27 tackles, two quarterback hurries, a sack and a pass deflection in his first season."
Tuitt also saw some time inside and was coming along really well before an illness forced him to miss the last two games. He and Lynch will make for one tough pass-rushing tandem in the years to come.
No. 123: Anthony Rabasa, DE: "Rabasa was moved to middle linebacker and was doing quite well before injuring his shoulder. He redshirted for the Fighting Irish."
No. 130: Jordan Prestwood, OT: "Prestwood enrolled at FSU in the spring and then transferred to Notre Dame, where he had originally committed in the summer of 2010. He redshirted for the Irish."