Film Room: Breaking Down The Game Of Cane Berrong
Notre Dame has recruited the tight end position extremely well in the 2018 and 2020 classes. That means whoever the Irish landed in the 2021 class has to not only be an outstanding talent, he needed to be a competitive player that wasn’t going to back down from a strong depth chart.
That is exactly what Notre Dame got in June with Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County standout Cane Berrong committed to Notre Dame.
Cane Berrong, TE, 6-4, 220, Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County
ESPN: No. 22
247Sports: No. 95
Rivals: No. 215
Irish Breakdown Grade: 4.0 (Top 150 player)
Upside Grade: 4.5
Film Analysis: When Notre Dame first landed Cane Berrong I thought it was a quality pick up. He was a prospect that showed potential, but a lot of work was needed and he was quite a long way away from being anywhere close to his full potential.
That evaluation was based on his sophomore film. After breaking down his junior film the talented tight end took his game to a whole new level and has shown himself to be one of the top tight ends in the country based on his potential and his current talent and production. What makes Berrong such a big pick up is that regardless of where he ranks in high school, there is little doubt he has the potential and upside to be a difference maker at the next level.
Berrong is a long athlete that is listed at 6-4, but he possesses above average arm length, a thick frame and I won’t be surprised if he has another growth spurt left in him. He reminds me a great deal of former Irish standout Cole Kmet from a body/frame standpoint. Kmet is a massive tight end now (6-5 1/2, 255), but he was a wide receiver for most of his prep career and didn’t really start filling out his frame until he was a senior, and then when he arrived at Notre Dame.
I’m not sure Berrong will fill out quite as much as Kmet, but he won’t be a 220-pounder for very long. The Hart County standout needs to keep getting stronger, and his lower body especially needs to fill out and get stronger. He needs to work on using his hands more effective in the run game, as they are often late arriving on the defender. Despite these two criticisms, Berrong grades out quite well as a blocker due to his natural strength, his athleticism and his toughness.
In this clip you see Berrong fly off the ball and use his quickness to get to the edge. He works his feet through contact and shows good strength. He does a good job with hand placement on this snap, and if he can do that more consistently his effectiveness as a run blocker from a projection to the next level standpoint will be enhanced.
Athletically, the first thing that stands out about Berrong is his speed, especially his acceleration. He is legit big play weapon in the pass game due to those traits. He needs a couple of steps to really build up speed, but with more lower body strength and weight room work you’ll see his initial burst improve. Once that happens he’ll be extremely difficult to defend on vertical routes.
His speed also makes him a weapon after the catch.
Berrong will get faster as he gets older, but even in this clip you can see the big play speed. With more weight room work I also expect his agility to improve. Right now Berrong shows good foot quickness in some areas, especially slide cuts, but when it comes to stop cuts (curls, ins, stop routes) he isn’t as quick as I’d want him to be. Part of that is technique, and as he improves his technique and adds more lower body explosiveness you’ll see his route running improve. Even then, I'd like to see Berrong focus more on his foot quickness as a route runner.
As a prep junior Berrong gets by on being faster and longer than his opponents, which helps him get open. The Hart County standout is also a heady football player, one that shows a good feel for finding soft spots in the zone and using leverage against defenders to get open.
Berrong also thrives as a pass catcher. He has soft and strong hands, and I love how he quickly snatches the ball out of the air with confidence. Berrong waits until the very last second before shooting his hands to the ball, which I like because it makes it harder on defenders to read his hands when they are trying to play the ball.
You can see in this clip what I’m talking about. Berrong waits until the ball gets on him and then quickly snatches the ball out of the air. The safety is playing Berrong’s hands, and he’s so late with his hands (which is a good thing) and his hands are so fast that the defensive back has no chance to make a play on the ball. This is excellent.
Berrong is a tough player that is more than willing to take a shot when working in traffic. He has the unique ability to focus entirely on the football no matter what is going on around him, which is something that is hard to teach because it’s about your mindset and mental toughness. These traits allow Berrong to be highly effective over the middle of the field even though he’s not a great route runner. Once his route running catches up to his natural tools his game is going to take off in a big way.
Route Running: 77
Ball Skills: 88
90-100 – Elite
80-89 – Very Good to Outstanding
70-79 – Solid to Above Average
60-69 – Below Average to Average
50-59 – Poor
OVERALL/UPSIDE GRADE KEY
5.0 – Elite (Top 25 Caliber Player)
4.5 – Outstanding (Top 50 Caliber Player)
4.0 – Very Good (Top 250 Caliber Player)
3.5 – Above Average (Top 350 Caliber Player)
3.0 – Solid (Top 500 Caliber Player or Lower)