With the Irish currently holding 17 solid commitments for the class of 2013 in mid-July, the Irish now have the luxury of really focusing in on locking up their top “free agent” or uncommitted targets for the class. Getting off to great head start with these rising seniors has also allowed the Irish staff to start in on the offer process for the class of 2014.
For those readers with youngsters who may have aspirations of playing ball in college, please take note: the recruiting process starts when these kids are freshman in high school. The recruiting process is more competitive than you can imagine. It’s difficult to wrap one’s mind around the fact that these kids are being offered scholarships before they're given a drivers license! But that’s the nature of the beast that is college football, in order to win games you have to put the athletes on the field. In order to steal these athletes away from competing schools, coach Kelly and his staff have been aggressive, working to be one of the first programs through the door with an offer. Inevitably this makes a huge impact on a prospect. You never forget your first.
This week I’ll be evaluating, albeit with ‘kid gloves’ Greer Martini, Notre Dame’s first commitment for the class of 2014. Martini is a linebacker who hails out to the state of Virginia. Again, the tape I’ve seen thus far is from his sophomore season so he is several years away from being considered a finished product.
Greer Martini is listed at 6-foot-3 and roughly 210 pounds. Really great size and frame for a kid his age. As might would expect, he has yet to develop a significant musculature. No cause for alarm here as if you were to look at photos of him, he may not even be shaving yet! He does have a wide trunk; I’d guess that he has a 34+ inch waist measurement. This leads me to believe that he will be able to add considerable bulk as he matures. He may eventually play at 240+ once he gets to the college ranks.
The Woodberry Forest product moves well for the position. The most notable aspect of his game is his overall flexibility/ability to bend; he can effectively drop his weight and bend his knee which is vital for production at the linebacker position. Being able to drop his weight allows him to make secure tackles and change direction while in pursuit.
Martini looks fluid enough in coverage. He can flip his hips and gain depth and ‘climb’ in his drops to find crossing routes.
He shows adequate closing speed on outside stretch plays, he doesn’t ‘wow’ me here, but he runs well for his age. As he gets stronger he will ‘turn over’ at a quicker rate. Speed is defined by stride length multiplied by frequency. He looks good running, but he isn’t strong enough yet to have ideal frequency (turn over). This will come with time spent conditioning and in the weight room. I'm looking forward to seeing him really cover some ground in the coming years.
For such a young kid I have to say that Martini looks comfortable while on the field. He plays with a nice tempo, yet he maintains a controlled pace. Martini also does a lot of little things really well. For starters, he has a nice stance, shows refined footwork and good instincts. An example of his instincts can be seen when he attacks on blitzes. He’s been coached to effectively time his blitzes. Taking off after the quarterback just as the ball is being snapped is rare to see for a high school linebacker, much less a sophomore.
We get the chance to see him make several plays behind the line of scrimmage. When making these plays Martini is largely untouched. Watching the tape, I’d say these TFL’s are a result of the sophomore playing at a higher tempo than the blockers assigned to get in between him and the ball.
He does a really nice job of taking correct angles of pursuit to the ball, as he gets faster with age he will become much more dynamic while chasing down ball carriers. Ideally, he’ll arrive on impact with more ‘gusto’ as opposed to dragging people down. At this point, he rarely ‘brings the lumber’ when making tackles, he prefers to ‘submarine’ oncoming ball tacklers, which is dangerous and will be ineffective at higher levels of play. He needs to see what he hits; running backs in college will run him over or just run past him.
The most exciting piece of Martini’s highlight tape was his knack for making dynamic plays. He gets his hands on a lot of passes and comes off with a few fumble recoveries as well. I honestly cannot remember the last time an Irish linebacker tipped a pass, much less come down with an interception. If the Irish are able to keep Martini under wraps for the next two years, it’ll be exciting to see Martini bring his propensity for the big play to South Bend.
It’s extremely exciting to see the Irish staff beating the streets and securing commits from two commitments for the class of 2014. They seem to be practicing what they preach, hard work. Snatching up commitments this early on in the process takes a tremendous amount of work to not only beat the other programs to the punch, but also work to maintain these kids interest and loyalty over course of the next two years.
I’m looking forward to watching Greer Martini develop physically. At this point he does a bunch of things well, and is just a really solid linebacker prospect. If he can get his speed and strength up to par he should expect to have a tremendous junior season.
Size: 85 (The frame is there, Martini just needs to keep taking his Flintstone vitamins and live in the weightroom)
Strength: 70 (Has his work cut out for him, but what high school sophomore doesn’t?)
Speed: 80 (Adequate)
Athletic Skills: 80 (Moves well)
Versatility: 75 (Doesn’t look to have the athletic potential to play anything but MIKE)
Overall Grade: 3
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!!