You will be hard pressed to find a downside to Blake Lueders.
With multiple offers, most recruiters watched Lueders at the middle linebacker position in the 4-3 defense though in Lueders' early varsity days, he was a fullback.
When I made my first inquiries about this player, I was told that he was a clone of Brian Urlacher and that his lateral speed for his size was impressive.
He has been recruited by Notre Dame as a defensive end. Rumors out of Zionsville indicate that Head Coach Larry McWhorter will place Blake at defensive end as well. If true, Blake will have a one-season head start at the position he will play in college.
S3 = Size – Speed – Strength
In person and on the film, this young man is one of the tallest middle linebackers you may ever see in high school. He is a legitimate 6'5" and will easily carry more weight on that frame when he gets involved with a college weight program.
Immediately apparent on film is his ability to move sideline to sideline. Instead of putting him on a strong or weak side, he literally "patrols" the middle. He will consistently play off a block, run to the alley and be the first or second man on the tackle. When he gets a straight on read, he fills with the authority you would expect of a 6'5" 250 pound linebacker.
Here are the last verified strength numbers from his last maxes:
- Bench Press – 335
- Squat – 470
- Power Clean – 315
- Vertical Jump – 32in
It is my opinion that his power clean is the most notable strength asset. When you watch film, he sheds blocks well and sprints to the ball carrier. When he gets what is called an "ISO read," he attacks and places the blocker back in the hole. Blake is a physically dominant high school player. Will this get him in trouble in college? Only if he thinks he is invincible. Upperclassmen have a tendency to knock that out of you.
His best and most telling combine stat is his "pro agility" event in which he runs a verified 4.3. This drill tests the ability to change direction and is a key ability for premiere football players. His legitimate shuttle time is already pro-class and will only improve.
The War Room (Detailed Film Review)The following is based upon film analysis – I call it the high school player acuity test. I choose to use the concept of acuity because it means things done with precision, sharpness, and excellence. Any coach knows that players are never perfect on every play. But most coaches are always looking for consistency and acuity.
What we are looking for fundamentally in the "War Room?" Does Lueders maintain consistency in his basic fundamental linebacker position even when he is tired? Late in the game, does he arm tackle or lose his form as a tackler? Does he run downhill to the ball carrier with efficiency? Is he turning and running to his pass drops or keeping step in man-to-man coverage? Finally, and what I consider to be the most critical factor, does he shed blocks or does he run around blocks? All this will reflect good or bad fundamentals and a further need to be evaluated in the "War Room."
You might wonder that is Lueders is playing defensive end for the Irish, what benefit is there to watch him at linebacker? His main strength at linebacker will likewise serve him well at defensive end. He has a proven ability to shed blocks and to run through them. This will translate well for him as a college defensive end. Watch how many times a running back/fullback comes sprinting toward a defensive end – it is the same concept and in my opinion it is Blake Lueders' greatest strength – shedding or running through blockers.
Blake is so dominant physically that when he tackles a 5'10" high school running back, he engulfs him. Often his head is above the ball and feet driving – the end result: a tackle is made. He will not succeed with that form of tackling in college. The ball carrier will be coming at him a lot faster at defensive end and he will have to adapt from being able to get a good read to establishing a new line of scrimmage, finding the ball and making the tackle.
The other issue for Blake was his pass drops – getting his hips turned and getting to his spot. Most high school linebackers don't get many reps in this area and are not consistent in finding the right depth. There may be a bright side for Notre Dame if they run a zone blitz in that they will have a defensive end that has made pass drops and even played some man-to-man. It might add another dimension to the Irish defense.
Does the player demonstrate strong or weak football fundamentals? The practice I watched was during the state playoffs and at least 45 minutes was given to football fundamentals (even that late in the season). What that tells me is that there is a lot of attention offered to proper football fundamentals early in the season as well.
Is he a proven athlete with proven skills? Since this is my first article, it's important to mention that multiple sport athletes are the norm in football. Most professional football players participated in multiple sports. It is a good way for recruiters to be sure of the recruit's athletic ability.
Blake Lueders plays basketball at the number "5" position for his high school team (that means he plays center for my fellow "old school" fans). He went to basketball camp this summer and his high school team won a prestigious tournament in Cincinnati. He isn't a scorer, but he can play defense and rebound. Those quick feet are evident. He plans on playing high school basketball after his football season is over.
T3 = Talent – Toughness – Tenacity
Every coach I spoke with at Zionsville (and those who are considered opponents) had one overwhelming comment – Blake Lueders has talent. More importantly, he is not afraid to work. His summer schedule started with 5:45 a.m. basketball practice and then a 90-minute weight lifting session. He was back in the late afternoon for football workouts. In "down time" he went to speed camp to get faster. He lifts weight every day during the school year as his school has advanced strength classes.
Does he understand the game of football? Here is where we learn a great deal about the type of player that is coming to Notre Dame. I have interviewed Blake Lueders three times. I call him the "Angelic Assassin." He is soft spoken, but when you watch him on film, he plays with emotion and isn't afraid to hit you. He has tremendous athletic ability and plays within himself. He genuinely plays unfettered by fear. He does not take plays off, and as you would expect, he is extremely intelligent.
I never saw him out of position to make a play. Some players get by on athletic skill, others get by on hard work, desire and attention to details. Blake Lueders will play football at some point for Notre Dame. He has the overall football acuity that Notre Dame needs to continue to build its program. It is not going to be a matter of will he help the Irish, it is a matter of when he will help the Irish.
The 5th Quarter – Making it Personal
After Blake Lueders made his verbal commitment to the University of Notre Dame, his family made a pilgrimage to Notre Dame. This trip was about where the "echoes" reside. It was down The Champs Elysees in Paris, France. But the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris stands as a testament to years of dedication and hard work. Several times the Cathedral itself had to be rebuilt and restored. This was not lost on Blake Lueders who felt compelled to visit the American Notre Dame's Alma Mater.
In the last conversation I had with Blake, he stated that somewhere in the next four years there is a championship waiting for Notre Dame. Hard work, sacrifice, discipline, and diligence are words that are not lost on this young recruit. Irish faithful, as I already stated, it is a matter of when not if.