Notre Dame is working to flip Penn State wide receiver recruit Kaden Saunders, one of the most explosive athletes in the Midwest.
KADEN SAUNDERS PROFILE
Hometown: Westerville, Ohio
High School: Westerville South
IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 100 caliber prospect)
Upside Grade: 4.5
2020 Stats: 47 catches, 958 yards, 20.4 YPC, 13 TD / 8 carries, 117 yards
Offers: Notre Dame, Penn State, Texas, Oregon, Texas A&M, Florida State, Michigan, Stanford, TCU, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan State, Purdue, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Maryland, Arizona State, Indiana, Illinois
Recruited By: Tommy Rees, Del Alexander
Saunders is one of the most explosive athletes in the country, and he's exactly the kind of big-play athlete that Notre Dame and every other program in the country wants and needs more of. He's a dangerous slot player and a difference maker in the return game.
The 5-10, 175-pound wideout lacks great size and length, but he has plenty of tools to make up for it, including game-changing speed and a natural feel for playing the position. His speed plays well inside and outside, short and long. Saunders shows an impressive burst and top-notch acceleration, a combination that makes him electric in the quick game. His deep speed is also outstanding, and Saunders has the potential to develop into an elite route runner at some point during his career.
Saunders also shows excellent speed with the ball in his hands. He doesn't need much room to turn a short throw into a touchdown. Saunders is a difficult matchup because he's capable of dominating in the short game, but he also has home run ability in the vertical game. Saunders is a bit more of a vertical weapon than he is a make-you-miss player right now, but I think there's room for that part of his game to keep getting better. If he starts showing the same foot quickness in space that he does at the line he could be even more dynamic with the ball in his hands.
What surprised me a bit was Saunders' ability to make plays on the ball down the field. He tracks the deep ball well, but his ability to win contested throws was impressive, and it wasn't something I expected to see. His lack of size will limit his ability to translate that to the college game from a volume standpoint, but Saunders shows excellent leaping ability (timing), he attacks the ball away from his body and he's physical when the ball is in the air.
Saunders shows an impressive ability to win at the line of scrimmage with both elite athleticism and a good feel for how to work free. His route running in the quick game is impressive, and he shows a good feel for route running in general, but there is still some work to do. A player his size needs to be more precise, and Saunders could stand to continue nuancing his route running in many ways. His top ends are a bit inconsistent, but when he does it right he explodes out of breaks and gets excellent separation.
5.0 - Elite player
4.5 - All-American caliber player
4.0 - Multi-year starter
3.5 - Key role player / Late career-starter
3.0 - Backup
To comment below be sure to sign up for a FREE Disqus account, which you can get HERE.
Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content, our premium message board and gets you a FREE subscription to Sports Illustrated! Click on the link below for more
Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time!
Join the Irish Breakdown community!
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes.
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channel.
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachD178
Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook