Class of 2016: Offense and Special Teams
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, February 4, 2016
6’0” • 193
Oak Ridge High School
El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Quarterback Ian Book hails from Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, California, and committed to Notre Dame in August of last year. Book is at his most comfortable in the pocket, where he has the field vision and arm strength to break down defenses. However, when the pocket breaks down, Books can still create as he has the speed to elude defenders, and his arm strength gives his receivers the freedom to be aggressive on deep balls.
Book, listed at 6-feet tall and 193 pounds, also runs the read-option from time to time. Book is the only quarterback in Notre Dame’s incoming freshman class.
6’5” • 291
Bishop Moore High School
In 6-foot-5, 291-pound offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux, the Irish find a spectacle in the consensus four-star recruit from Orlando. As a large and powerful player, Boudreaux should prove to be a big catch for Notre Dame. If it says anything about his strength, Boudreaux committed to Notre Dame by posting a video in which he chained himself to a 16,000-pound school bus that he pulled alone to unveil his choice among his 70-plus scholarship offers.
He’s a powerhouse run-blocker with good extension and proves technically sound across the board. Like other Irish players, Boudreaux’s versatility will make him a weapon at tackle or guard at the college level.
6’5” • 215
Abbotsford High School
A four-star recruit at receiver, Chase Claypool is also the top player out of Canada. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds with a 40-time of 4.60 seconds, he can flat-out play while leaving undersized defenders in his wake. In high school, Claypool played on both sides of the ball and returned kicks for the Abbotsford Panthers, and he seemed to be the best player on the field no matter the position. He may not even be the top player at his position coming to campus in the fall after joining a deep class at receiver for Notre Dame, but don’t be surprised if he makes an impact sooner rather than later.
6’5” • 284
St. Ignatius High School
Notre Dame’s success in adding high-profile recruits on the offensive line continued with the addition of four-star recruit Liam Eichenberg. Eichenberg has long been on Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s radar, receiving an offer from Notre Dame in March 2014.
Eichenberg already has the rare combination of both impressive size — 6-foot-5 and 284 pounds — and excellent technique, which has allowed him to become a standout performer for St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, particularly in pass protection, where he can make the most of his quick footwork and long arms. He faced injuries and illness over the course of his prep career and underwent surgery for a knee injury for the second time in his career last month but looks set to return to full strength.
TONY JONES, JR.
6’1” • 212
Hailing from Bradenton, Florida, and the prestigious IMG Academy, running back Tony Jones, Jr., will fit right in the Irish backfield. Jones, ranked 21st overall for running backs by Rivals, totaled 771 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on just 66 carries his junior year.
Praised by scouts for his college-ready size, Jones relies more on his strength than elusiveness to get through the defense. However, once he gets in the open field, Jones has the speed to breakaway as fast as any recruit in the nation. Even though he will join the team with established runners ahead of him, Jones, like Josh Adams before him, can prove to be invaluable if any of the backs ahead of him go down.
6’5” • 310
Elder High School
Recently named the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year, Tommy Kraemer provides an instant boost in talent to Notre Dame’s offensive. The first commit in Notre Dame’s 2016 class, Kraemer is ranked No. 41 overall and the No. 4 offensive tackle by Rivals. A four-star prospect out of Elder High School in Cincinnati, Kraemer was an All-USA first team selection this past season and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Kraemer has the strength to drive opposing defensive linemen back in the running game while also possessing enough lateral quickness as a tackle to enable him to be an effective pass-blocker. Arguably the most impressive attributes Kraemer possesses are his strong hands, which enable him to recover quickly if he’s been beat off the edge.
5’10” • 175
Cardinal Gibbons High School
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound running back from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, committed to Notre Dame on Nov. 16. Scout ranks Deon McIntosh as the 35th-best tailback in the country and the fifth-best running back in the state of Florida.
Initial scouting reports show him to be a versatile player with soft hands out of the backfield as well as the ability to be dangerous at slot receiver. McIntosh’s running game is one of his biggest assets, and his slippery movement on the field makes him difficult to bring down. McIntosh’s highlight videos demonstrate his ability to glide through defenses effectively and tenaciously as well as a willingness to push for every inch on the field.
6’2” • 196
Centennial High School
Javon McKinley is a four-star recruit out of Corona, California, ranked the No. 59 player in the nation and the 11th-best wide receiver in the Class of 2016, according to Rivals. McKinley established himself as a premier wideout his junior year, hauling in over 2,500 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns. He finished his three-year varsity career with 3,724 yards receiving and 42 touchdowns for Centennial High School, helping to lead Centennial to a No. 2 ranking in California. These impressive numbers earned McKinley a spot in the Army All-America Game on Jan. 9, where he committed to play for the Irish. McKinley will help to fill a void in the Irish receiving corps next year with the departures of Chris Brown, Amir Carlisle and All-American Will Fuller.
6’2” • 235
A 6-foot-2 long snapper out of Loyola Academy just north of Chicago, John Shannon became the Notre Dame class of 2016’s second commit when he announced his intentions at Junior Day last year. Shannon’s father, Gerard, and grandfather, Dan, both suited up for the Fighting Irish.
Representing one of the more unheralded positions on the field, Shannon is ranked as the top long snapper recruit in the class of 2016 by Rivals thanks to his stellar high school career as a long snapper. Shannon has also demonstrated the ability to be a special teams impact player, getting down the field quickly and making tackles. He closed out his high school career with a state title before traveling to represent the East in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
6’1” • 180
First Coast High School
In a recruiting class loaded with talent, Notre Dame has secured another receiver in Kevin Stepherson. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound receiver comes from First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida, where he posted terrific stats in the past couple of years, drawing offers from schools such as Michigan State and Georgia Tech.
He has a playing style that emphasizes his strong ability to get downfield and elevate to high-point the football. Stepherson is the 66th-ranked player at his position according to Rivals, coming in as the 58th overall prospect from the state of Florida. Stepherson committed to the Irish back in June after an unofficial visit. He came for his official visit in October and is enrolled at Notre Dame as of Jan. 12.