Recruiting for the 2013 season got an early start last September when Steven Elmer pledged to be the first commitment of the Fighting Irish. The Irish got a star in the making with this commitment. Steven Elmer has a list of intangibles that would have made the future Irish tackle a hot commodity on the national scene had he not made an early decision. Tackle is always a need at Notre Dame; especially tackles that can move, can run block, and have the polished pass blocking ability of Steven Elmer. Irish fans should be excited about the prospect already in the stable, and with a player like him, we should expect to get more horses to follow. I watched Elmer’s films and came away very impressed with him as a player during his sophomore and junior years.
At 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, Steven Elmer has the right body to play early at the next level. Seeing him in pads, it he looks like he can support another five to ten pounds and play right around 315 pounds. Elmer is blessed with a wide frame that he uses to engulf player. This frame is also great for hanging weight on. Once Steven arrives on campus, Irish strength coach Paul Longo will put a plan together to tighten what he has and add the necessary weight to be a big time college football player.
The best attribute Elmer has is his lower body, it is strong, yet lean. He doesn’t have the heavy legs that plague many high school offensive linemen. One play I watched Elmer being out-leveraged by a defensive lineman, however this was no problem for Elmer. He used his superior leg strength and rooted the player out and embarrassed him. The hip strength to accomplish this is something college level players desire.
The one thing I would like to see Elmer work on his is upper body strength. If I was coaching him, I would want to see more violence with arms when finishing blocks. He uses his size to achieve his pancakes. When I was playing, we had a term called “turning the wheel,” where once you had a player moving backwards a simple lift and twist with your upper body could pancake anyone. Once Steven gets his upper body strength where he needs it to be, I would expect many more pancakes.
Athletically, Steven Elmer is a coach’s dream, and I love his athletic ability. I think this will be a huge upside for him. He can run like a player 40 pounds lighter. He is light on his feet and possesses tremendous body control. Not many players can get to the second level, let alone get to the third level. One play to that stuck out to me in particular was one where, during a swing pass, Elmer pulled outside of the play and became the lead blocker. He was in a full sprint and was able to execute his block and run stride for stride with the running back. I like that Elmer keeps a wide base when he gets out in space. A lot of players narrow up their feet when they start to run. Then they can’t readjust their base to perform the block on the linebacker or defensive back. He doesn’t have this problem, and this will help him tremendously in a zone running game Norte Dame employs.
As a run blocker, Elmer is right up there with the best in the country. He has a great second step. A lot of people talk about the importance of the first step. As a lineman, if you don’t get that second step into the ground you have nothing. Stalemates happen when you can’t get the second step in the ground, and Elmer does not have this problem. He explodes out of his stance with great quickness and gets the second foot in the ground. He then drives the defensive linemen off the ball on to their back. In addition to getting off the ball, he uses his long arms as a weapon at the point of attack. With a good arm cock and well placed strike, Elmer uses he his hands to knock the opposing player off balance then the leg drive takes over and runs his opponent out of the play. The Midland, Mich. star has what coaches look for in that he is always on the hunt. Players need to always know where Elmer is or they will end up getting hit in the mouth.
The one area I would like to see improvement is finishing every play. Too many times for my liking Steven let players off the hook. He didn’t finish them off like he has shown in the past. When a player is on his heels and being taken for a ride I want to see the player end up on his back. “Finish Him” is a refrain I would make Elmer hear in his sleep.
As a zone run blocker Elmer can and will succeed. His high school runs the zone as well as a power running game. The plays that stuck out to me were when he was executing those zone concepts. When working with the backside guard he had perfect angles and took over the block with the ease of someone that has done this many times. At the point of attack Elmer reach blocks very well and can handle a defensive end one-on-one with little problem. I feel that he will have a lot of upside in Notre Dame’s running game.
Being an accomplished pass blocker is sometimes harder than it sounds, but Elmer makes it look effortless. The first thing that jumped out from the film was his fluidity of his kick-slides. Most of the time high school tackles use their superior strength to muscle players when pass blocking. Elmer uses his long arms and polished kick-slides to maintain a great 2/3rd inside-out relation. When pass blocking, the one place you never want a defender to go is inside of you. So maintaining a 2/3rd inside-out body position gives you a chance to win. Elmer stops the rush exceptionally with his punch. An offensive lineman wants to stop the momentum of the defensive lineman and make him redirect his rush. Having a great punch will do this. When you punch you want to hit and grab onto the breast plate of the opposing player. This way you can control the rusher and win the block. He does a great job of this as well. He aims small and misses very infrequently. One play that really caught my eye was when a player tried to bull rush him and the defensive lineman knocked Elmer’s hands off his body. As if nothing happened, the senior-to-be quickly replaced his hands, kicked his feet, and won the battle.
My only critique as far as a pass blocker would be that Elmer needs to be more physical at the point of attack. Several times he lets an inferior player drive him up the field because he is being too passive. Elmer is a talented enough player to stop a rush at the line and keep him there. But this is a small nitpick of a very polished tackle
Although Elmer plays right tackle at his school, I think that he could end up on the left side of the line at Notre Dame. He has the athletic ability and quick hands and feet to play the edge at a big time program. I would liked to have seen how Elmer adjusts to twists and stunts. These plays would let me know how ready he is to play right away. But judging by the attributes he has the potential to play a freshman if the need arose. I expect to see him make the two deep at some point during the 2013 season.
Steven Elmer is a tremendous prospect who has a huge upside. It is a great get for the Irish and super important to secure his commitment this early in the process. The Midland, Mich. product will make an impact during his time at Notre Dame; the only question is how early. Judging by his sophomore and junior films, I expect to see even more improvement in his overall game during his senior campaign. The only person who can put a governor on his development is him. I don’t expect that to happen based on what I have seen on film. He shouldl garner All-American type attention before it is all said and done. The Irish picked up a stud tackle in both Michigan and Michigan State’s backyard. Players with his size and athleticism are rare, and he will use these things to excel in Notre Dame’s offense. Whether run blocking or in pass protection, Steve Elmer has all the tools to be a big-time player and will delight Irish Fans for the next 4 years.
Size: 94 (Great frame, long arms, athletic frame for 305lbs) Strength: 92(Good strength, has great leg strength needs to improve upper body strength) Athletic Ability: 96 (Impressive athlete, great 2nd step, very agile and fluid with his technique, gets to 2nd and 3rd level with ease) Technique/Footwork: 97(Extremely Well-coach lineman, excellent run blocker, very polished pass protector) Run Blocking: 93 (A stud in the run game, can dominate the point of attack, needs to improve on finishing off his defender)
Pass Blocking: 96 (Uses his long arms to his advantage, keeps himself in great body position) Toughness/Finish: 91 (Strong, Needs to work on finishing defenders off, has all the tools just needs to let himself go)
Intangibles: 95 (Very well coached, strong work ethic, wants to be at Notre Dame )
Overall Grade: 4+
90-100 – Elite/Exceptional: Skill set is rare and gives prospect ability to dominate 80-89 – Very Good/Outstanding: Skill set is a significant strength 70-79 – Average: Skill set is solid, not a significant weakness 60-69 – Below Average: Skill set is not a strength for this player and could become a liability 50-59 – Very Poor: Prospect does not possess this trait and it is a definite liability
OVERALL/UPSIDE GRADE KEY
5 – Elite: Player is one of the best players at his position nationally, potentially dominant 4 – Very Good/Outstanding: Player is a potential standout and starter, could also play early 3 – Solid: Player is a potential contributor, could eventually start down the road 2 – Below Average: Player does not possess the talent to be a significant contributor 1 – Poor: Let’s be honest, Notre Dame is not going to bring in anyone with a one!!