Notre Dame picked up a huge commitment with Vancouver (Wash.) Union wide receiver Tobias Merriweather pledging to the Fighting Irish. Merriweather picked Notre Dame over USC, Stanford, Oregon and Tennessee.
Let's take a look at how the commitment of Merriweather impacts the Notre Dame recruiting class and depth chart.
NOTRE DAME CLASS IMPACT
Merriweather is the 20th player to commit to Notre Dame in the 2022 class. He is the ninth offensive commit and the second wide receiver. He joins Louisiana wideout Amorion Walker in the class.
Merriweather was the No. 1 receiver on the board for Notre Dame and he's the No. 1 outside receiver on the Irish Breakdown board. He ranks as the nation's No. 46 overall player according to SI All-American, so landing Merriweather certainly gives Notre Dame the kind of impact perimeter weapon the program needs a lot more of.
Notre Dame landed a strong three-man group in the 2021 class, but the best teams in the country do that on a yearly basis. Landing Merriweather a year after getting Lorenzo Styles Jr., Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas gives the Irish a chance to have a second straight outstanding receiver class.
The loss of Jordan Johnson and Jay Brunelle, two offseason transfers, keeps this from being potentially a third straight strong wide receiver class. Combined with the loss of 2019 signee Kendall Abdur-Rahman, another offseason transfer, means Notre Dame needs at least three wideouts in the 2022 class. With Merriweather in the class the Irish are also one step closer to meeting their numbers need.
Notre Dame needs one more wide receiver in the class, but two would be even better.
NOTRE DAME FIT
Notre Dame has coveted tall outside wideouts for much of the Brian Kelly tenure, and the 6-4 Merriweather certainly fits that mold. In many ways he's the ideal outside receiver in many ways.
Merriweather has impressive long speed and he's more than capable of taking the top off the defense, something that is a must for the ideal outside receiver in the Notre Dame offense. He has the catch radius and ball skills to dominate the one-on-one perimeter throws that we've seen wideouts like Michael Floyd, Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin dominate with in the Irish offense.
This isn't a wideout that Notre Dame has to stick into the boundary, with Merriweather possessing the ability to play both outside positions. The Union star shows an advanced feel as a route runner and he can do damage after the catch, skills that are ideal for the outside field position as well.
Merriweather is long and currently on the thin side, so I'm not sure how much Notre Dame would want to put him in the slot early on. Once he fills out and gets stronger, however, that could also be a role Merriweather could thrive in due to his route running, catch radius and the unique feel he shows for finding soft spots in the zone and his speed to beat defenders across the field on crossers and drags.
Notre Dame landed Deion Colzie in last year's class and he is another 5.0-star upside player. Colzie is also an ideal boundary receiver, and Merriweather being able to play all three spots gives Notre Dame the ability to turn Colzie and Merriweather into a Claypool-Boykin type of one-two punch at wide receiver.
"If you are someone who likes player comps, when I watch Merriweather on film I constantly think I am watching a younger version of Tee Higgins. Long, smooth, fluid, advanced feel for the game and really impressive ball skills.
"Like Higgins (who ran a 4.54 at Clemson's Pro Day prior to the 2020 NFL Draft), Merriweather isn't a burner, but he's got enough long speed, and there's a lot of untapped speed potential there. Remember, outside of some camp films the last time we saw Merriweather on a football field was during his sophomore season. Like many 2022 prospects, he wasn't able to play as a junior due to decisions made by the state.
"Merriweather has freakishly long legs, which tells me he still has some growing to do. His length is incredibly impressive, and he chews up a lot of ground in a hurry due to his long strides. The Union star is a smooth and fluid athlete, more so than you'd expect from a tall, young, lanky athlete. His balance is outstanding, as is his agility for his size.
"Merriweather has long arms and fast hands, and he's a very good leaper, traits that make him very difficult to defend on the perimeter, in the red zone and on jump balls. He shows the ability to make plays after the catch, and you can see his foot quickness in space and at the top of his routes.
"The physical tools are impressive, but Merriweather has a very mature game. He's advanced from a technical standpoint for his age, and his understanding of using leverage and his release to manipulate defenders for separation is impressive, and Merriweather shows a knack for finding soft spots in the zone.
"Those traits should make him a strong possession and red zone receiver, but his ball skills and long speed make him a threat down the field. If I'm right and he has another gear in him as he matures his recruiting profile will skyrocket. There's a lot of potential here with Merriweather, and if you're a coach who cares about upside and projection he's got to be at or near the top of your board."
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