Below is a film review of five-star prospect Nyles Morgan, Scout.com's third-ranked middle linebacker in the 2014 class.
Strengths and areas for development
Quick to diagnose plays, both pre- and post-snap, then shows impressive closing speed to finish ball carriers upon first contact…A prototypical downhill linebacker in run defense but Morgan can move his feet in pass coverage and move the width of the field as well…Sheds blocks, but mitigated the need at the prep level by taking the proper angle and exploding from his stance through the opponent, be it 5, 10, or 20 yards later…Navigates traffic at scrimmage well, likely because he's aware of what an offense is trying to accomplish…
Goes for -- and converts --- his fair share of kill shots on opponents. The incoming class has more the a handful of athletes with a real mean streak…Delivers a blow upon impact not seen on film since the Irish signed the Punahou Punisher, Manti Te'o, in 2009…Morgan could excel as a freshman if the Irish most often show a four-down front where he'd receive more protection from his defensive linemen against the omnipresent nblocked offensive guards an inside linebacker encounters from the 3-4 look…Morgan likely has an adjustment period in terms of taking on 300-pound guards that arrive unblocked, but he has the temperament and technique for it…
Showed the ability to wrap a runner, then attempt to create a fumble during the tackle (too many athletes neglect the crucial first part)…A tackler, not a dragger, and one that plays with a violent streak…With his ability to diagnose plays and move through both clutter and free space, Morgan should defend college screen games (standard, bubble, tunnel) well from the outset…
Born to be a middle linebacker, Morgan shoots the gap, sheds blocks, aligns his teammates, skates through traffic, reads the quarterback, and finishes plays with authority…Has the quick feet, agility, and technique to first survive, then thrive vs. college spread attacks, where tackling runners in open space is the order of the day…
Not including the legendary Te'o's senior season, Morgan could rank as Notre Dame's best open-field tackling middle linebacker since Courtney Watson (1999-2003).
Road blocks to playing time
Not many. Senior Jarrett Grace is the only sure-thing, and he's not set for contact this spring after breaking his leg in four place on October 5.
Remaining competitors include expected 5th-year senior Kendall Moore, senior Joe Schmidt, redshirt-freshman Michael Deeb, and Morgan's incoming classmate, Greer Martini.
Morgan could be a Day One starter in South Bend. (Or more likely, a "September starter" next fall.)
Reminiscent of… Former Irish linebacker and team captain, Anthony Denman (1997-2000)
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