Current Notre Dame cornerback commit Jaden Mickey had a host of major schools interested in him after he logged six interceptions as a sophomore, but the Fighting Irish did not extend an offer until early February. From that point on, however, Mickey and his family evaluated the 2022 prospect's future in South Bend before he eventually committed to Notre Dame on March 14.
Standing at 6-0 and 175 pounds, Mickey is a sticky cover corner that uses his speed and athleticism to wind up in the right position, and that helped him deflect 11 passes last year. At times, Mickey chips in on offense, and he also is a game-breaking special teams player that can help flip field position when returning the football.
Mickey did not become that type of player by accident, though. The Notre Dame commit grew up and not only played in but thrived in competitive environments, and that's helped produce the eager, spirited defensive back that steps on the field each week for the Huskies.
“He's very self-motivated, and he's very vocal,” Centennial head coach Matt Logan told Irish Breakdown. “He likes to get after guys and get them going both on the field and off the field. He challenges guys with heavier weights. He's a really strong kid, especially for his size. He likes to mess with the O-Linemen and D-Linemen and look at their dumbbells and start doing what they're doing, so that's pretty funny.”
During team workouts, Mickey is not bashful when it comes to challenging his teammates to do their best. He was bred to expect the most out of not only himself but his teammates as well, and that infectious commitment to excellence helps explain how he has developed into such a quality prospect on and off the field.
“If you haven't seen him play, he's one of the most competitive athletes we've had,” Logan said. “Everything is full-go with him, full throttle. He's always been a guy that works tremendously hard with us and outside of us as well. He's always involved with other things. He's pretty much worked on every aspect of his game. I think he had six interceptions last year, which tied a school record. He's got great ball skills. You can always improve, but he is tremendous at everything. He just tries to take his game to the next level.”
Mickey is not the first player from the Centennial program to wind up at Notre Dame, however. Former Huskies wide receiver Javon McKinley has played in three straight seasons for the Fighting Irish, so there is a pre-existing connection between Centennial and ND. With that knowledge at hand, Coach Logan believes that Mickey is a tremendous addition to Notre Dame's school and campus.
“I think he will fit in perfect there,” Logan said. “He brings a level of competition and athleticism to Notre Dame.”
Here is a breakdown of what Mickey brings to the field courtesy of Bryan Driskell:
“Mickey symbolizes how challenging it can be evaluating the 2022 class. Many players like Mickey did not get the opportunity to play their junior seasons, which is often when high school players make the biggest jump. We have yet to see Mickey's physical development on the field over the last year, or how his game has improved.
“When grading a player like Mickey there needs to be a big asterisk beside him, because some of the important parts of evaluating a cornerback can't be known until he gets back on the field. That is why he is ranked as a Top 250 caliber prospect, but there are some traits that I see on film that I really, really like.
“To begin, Mickey is a quick footed and fluid athlete, two of the most important traits I look for in a cornerback, especially one that will be tasked with playing man coverage. Mickey also shows impressive coverage instincts, showing the ability to read routes effectively and to mirror what wideouts are doing. Mickey gets his hands on a lot of throws, both on the man he is defending, but also when he is able to come out of his zone and drive on the ball.
“That combination of smooth athletic skills and a high football IQ is impressive, but when you consider its based on sophomore film it makes it even more impressive.
“Mickey is still quite skinny as a sophomore, and he didn't look to be the 5-11 to 6-0 he's listed at now. Recent photos show a player that has filled out and grown a bit, but we have yet to see that on the football field. It's one of the top things I'm looking to see once he finally gets back on the field. As an undersized sophomore Mickey showed a lot of fight, both as a tackler and playing the football. His ability to shut down 6-5, 215-pound USC commit Keyan Burnett in a 2019 matchup was incredibly impressive.
“While Mickey is a smooth and fluid athlete, his speed at this point isn't elite. That's another area where I am looking forward to seeing his progress when he gets back on the field. Some athletes make big jumps from their sophomore to senior seasons, and if Mickey makes a normal sophomore to senior speed progression his grade and ranking will increase. If he shows a better than normal jump he has the overall skills to push his way into the Top 100 caliber ranking.”
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