After a fantastic core of offensive playmakers for the class of 2020, Notre Dame already began piecing together another strong group of offensive playmakers for 2021.
Building upon Notre Dame’s 2020 offensive skill position talent haul that included national recruits such as running back Chris Tyree, wide receiver Jordan Johnson, wide receiver Xavier Watts and tight end Michael Mayer, the Irish already landed two of the class 2021 prospects that were coveted nationwide. Some might have forgotten what the Irish coaching staff already accomplished.
During COVID-19, It’s easy to lose track of what the Irish already accumulated. Speed, size and skill, already a part of the class of 2021. More specifically, Notre Dame seized the opportunity to gain the talents of two highly decorated recruits to go with five-star quarterback Tyler Buchner, one at wide receiver (Lorenzo Styles Jr.), and one at tight end (Cane Berrong), respectively.
Before Notre Dame gained the commitment of Riverview (Fla.) Bloomingdale standout corner Philip Riley, some projected Styles as a cornerback for Notre Dame, myself included. It’s the one position Notre Dame often falls short with recruiting.
With the 6-0½, 190-pound Riley now in the fold, that means that Styles should be considered much more likely to stay on the offensive side of the ball. What a difference-maker he can be, and it does not necessarily mean catching passes either.
First and foremost, the Pickerington (Ohio) Central talent possesses the ability to be an explosive athlete almost immediately after the snap of the football catches one’s attention. The 6-1, 180-pound Styles provided a burst when he made cuts, even on a muddy field, as shown during this first video clip.
Much like with the kickoff return, great athletes find a way to make plays even when the original course becomes shut down. Watch Styles as he stops and changes direction towards the middle of the field while the defenders continue to flow towards the sideline.
Once Styles went directly towards the goal line, his explosive speed took him right by multiple defenders. His toughness finished off the play with a touchdown.
As for Berrong, the 6-4, 225-pound tight end from Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County will be joining an offense that’s tailored to his talents. He will be able to play split out wide, be utilized as an in-line tight end, an H-Back, and possibly even a fullback. With Berrong’s athletic talents, opposing defenses will be hard pressed to slow him down.
Imagine a middle linebacker attempting to stay with Berrong in the flat after he lined up at fullback. That’s a true mismatch. Same concept when Berrong plays H-Back. Good luck to those linebackers.
When he’s in the slot, smaller defensive backs will struggle with Berrong’s height and strength. His hands will be a weapon, too.
Some tight ends possess good hands, but Berrong has excellent hands and ball skills. Berrong’s natural talent, combined with his work ethic, helped him to make difficult catches look routine.
Beyond the obvious great hands Berrong brings to the table, there are two specific traits that Irish fans should know about him as a receiver.
First, he’s not your typical 225-pound flex-tight end. Quite the contrary, Berrong plays more like a big wide receiver. He will line up versus many different types of defenders, but few will be able to handle his athleticism during one-on-one matchups. Second, he can make defenders miss. Most tight ends lack the ability to consistently make defenders miss.
This final clip exhibited Berrong’s ability to combine his athleticism and his size. Especially during third down plays and in the red zone, Berrong will be a playmaker for the Irish.
This simple flat route should be stopped for about a seven-yard gain. Berrong’s skill and talent allowed him to quickly move down the field, make a defender miss, and finish off the play by gaining extra yardage after contact.
While Notre Dame’s class of 2020 certainly deserves high credit for the amount of talent that was brought in to help add explosive players, the class of 2021 already secure the commitments of two such talents as well.
Notre Dame fans should be excited about Styles and Berrong. Both of them will be playmakers for the Irish.
To read a full film evaluation of Styles CLICK HERE.
To read a full film evaluation of Berrong CLICK HERE.
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