Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sudden Switch | by Pat

After a long dry spell, ND has nearly doubled the current recruiting class size in the past week. The latest newcomer is Utah safety Chris Badger. Visiting campus for an unofficial visit, Badger decided to switch his commitment from Stanford, where his father and brother went, to Notre Dame and become the 9th member of the recruiting class of 2010

"I've always had a thing for Notre Dame and heard so much about their tradition and history. When I got there, I just can't describe the feeling. You can just feel the prestige of the school and football is such a huge deal there. If you make it big at Notre Dame in football, you become a legend and everything just felt right so I decided to change my commitment.
If you're thinking it is rare for someone from Utah to come to ND to play football, you are right. According to the all-time roster, Badger will be only the fourth player from the State to suit up for ND, with the last one being Pete Rokich in the mid-80's.

The 6'0" 190 pound Badger is a 3-star recruit to both Rivals and Scout. Rivals has him as the #24 safety while Scout has him a spot lower at #25. ESPN is a bit more optimistic, putting Badger on their Top 150 Watch List. Like some of the other 3-star recruits in this class, Badger does have a very solid offer list. In addition to the Stanford offer, Florida State, LSU, Cal, Oregon, Missouri, and others all offered him. I think it's safe to say that it is rare for FSU and LSU to look to Utah for their safeties.

What has certainly helped Badger pick up offers is his willingness to attend camps and combines in order to perform for coaches and scouts. He was the WR MVP of BYU's football camp in '07, was the DB MVP of the Boise National Underclassmen Combine in '08, was named to the All-Camp team (along with Chris Martin) at the aptly named BadgerSport 7 on 7 tournament in Vegas earlier this spring, and had a very good showing at this spring's L.A. Under Armour combine.
Badger is a blue-collar type safety who excels more as a true hash, Cover 2 defender getting over the top of the football and breaking on the ball in front of him with excellent instincts and plant-and-drive burst. Matchup-wise, Badger could struggle playing down over quicker slots in space.

The well-built safety showed better range than testing speed (4.75 40) and impressed us with his 4.35 shuttle and solid footwork for a high-point safety during DB drills. The Stanford pledge benched 185 pounds 18 times and showed some of that upper-body strength getting physical with slots running up the seam and battling for position against outside receivers on deep routes. On film, you might not find a bigger hitter than Badger, which he couldn't show in this setting. Still, we did see some great intangibles and athleticism.
ESPN has started to add video from these combines, so if you're interested to see what goes on, here's Badger's work at that L.A. UA Combine. If the part about not finding a bigger hitter caught your eye, then enjoy these 5 minutes of football violence that make up Badger's highlight clips. Fun stuff.

At the very least Badger is going to be a force on special teams. Maybe he'll even grow into a linebacker, which would help negate the critiques of him being a step slow to keep up with premier wideouts. But for now he's a safety, so let's take a look at the current safety depth chart for 2010. I hope you're ready for this.

Fifth Year
Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman
Leonard Gordon
Harrison Smith*
Dan McCarthy*

Chris Badger

Ouch. Any freshman who commits to ND will more or less automatically be in the two-deep as soon as he is assigned a number. It's possible and maybe even likely that someone like Jamoris Slaughter or E.J. Banks could shift to safety, but looking at the Lo Wood post right before this one, it's not like ND is overflowing with cornerbacks either. Freshman Zeke Motta practiced at linebacker this spring, but scuttlebutt has him starting fall camp at safety so he could add depth if he sticks in the defensive backfield.

Badger is the first of two or three likely safety recruits in the current recruiting cycle. It's always ideal to spread the numbers across the classes, but with only one real safety in the junior and sophomore classes currently, ND needs to load up this year. Badger is also Mormon, so there might be the possibility he will be taking a mission at some point in the future. That's another reason to take three safeties in this current class.

As for overall numbers, we'll take a closer look at the big picture numbers later on, but ND should wind up at or near 25 when all is said and done. That leaves about 14-16 more spots for recruits.