Monday, December 21, 2009

Kelly grabs his first | by Pat

Quick, name the first player to publicly commit to Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis. The answer for the Brian Kelly era is Kentucky athlete Austin Collinsworth.

The son of former NFL player and current NFL announcer Cris Collinsworth, Austin was just offered by Kelly a few days ago and didn't take very long to make his decision. His commit brings the 2010 class tally back to 18 after the decommitment of Texas cornerback Toney Hurd.

The recruiting sites don't think much of Collinworth. Both Rivals and Scout have him as a 3-star recruit with Scout also listing him as the 98th overall safety. ESPN is even harsher, giving him 2 stars and the 118th safety ranking to go with his grade of 74. Offers-wise, Kelly offered Collinsworth at Cincinnati months ago, as did Oregon, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Louisville.

While his recruiting rankings are rather low, Austin has been about as successful as one can be on the football field.

Collinsworth, who helped lead the Bluebirds to three straight Class 5A titles, was an all-state player at three different positions: defensive back, wide receiver and running back. During his three seasons with the varsity, Highlands lost just one game. The Bluebirds are ranked second in the current USA Today Super 25 national rankings.
Austin capped off his senior season by being named MVP of the state final after a 176 yard, 3 touchdown rushing performance. He was also invited to participate in the upcoming US Army All-American Bowl, so there will be a chance for him to compete against some of the best talent in the country.

From the sound of things, Austin will get his first shot on offense as a slot receiver, so that's were I'll put him for this particular 2010 position depth chart. But he also played safety in high school and ND definitely needs safety recruits in this class so perhaps Austin might find himself moving to the defensive side of the ball in the future depending on how the numbers pan out. Then again, Kelly's offense frequently features four receivers lining up at a time. If Floyd follows in Tate's footsteps and goes pro after a stellar junior season, that would leave only four non-freshman scholarship wide receivers on the roster after the 2010 season.

5th Year
Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman
Barry Gallup
Duval Kamara Michael Floyd
Shaq Evans
Daniel Smith

John Goodman*
Roby Toma
Bennett Jackson

Deion Walker*

Tai-ler Jones

Austin Collinsworth

Those trying to divine any particular overall recruiting strategy from the quick offer and commit from Collinsworth might be reaching a bit as it's hard to tell based off this one data point if Kelly will continue to stick with more regional recruits or will reach out nationally for future players. In this instance it appears that Kelly had a player he had recruited previously and thought was a good fit and could add some depth to the current recruiting class. Any long-term recruiting strategies should start to become more obvious after Signing Day when the new ND staff begins to shape and form the 2011 target list.