Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 16, 2015 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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basis that we lose a guy or two here or there." But that might not be the case any- more. On Nov. 1, Norcross (Ga.) High four-star linebacker Robert Beal gave a verbal commitment to play for the Irish. While Beal is ranked by Rivals as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the class of 2017, the junior projects as a defensive end at the next level — and that's one of the reasons why he com- mitted to Notre Dame. "They told me my role will be do- ing a lot of things," Beal said. "They said one play I could be outside to cover the wide receiver one on one, the next play I could be blitzing and the next lined up getting after the passer." Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder first got a look at the 6-3, 220-pound Beal when he was on campus for an unofficial visit in April. Beal was in the area visiting his grandmother, who lives in South Bend and worked at Notre Dame's cafeteria for more than 30 years. It didn't take VanGorder and the rest of the Irish coaches long to realize that Beal was going to be a fit. VanGorder offered Beal during the spring evaluation period and lured him back to campus for the Irish Inva- sion in June. He flew down to Georgia during the Irish's bye week in late October to watch Beal play in person and make another pitch. The visit ended up sealing the deal for VanGorder and the Irish. "That made me feel great that Coach VanGorder and [assistant] Coach [Scott] Booker came down here to see me," Beal said. "Our relationship just keeps betting better and better." Beal also held scholarship offers from Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Florida State, Ole Miss, Texas, Michi- gan, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, TCU and Virginia Tech. He was recruited heavily by coaches from every program that extended a bid, but said that the visits to Notre Dame and the relationships that he developed with the coaching staff proved to be the difference. "I didn't really become a Notre Dame fan until my first trip up there my freshman year," Beal said. "On that trip, I met the coaches and our relationship has grown ever since. FILM ANALYSIS Strengths Expect to see Robert Beal's stock skyrocket over the next year … An ideal fit for Notre Dame's weakside end position due to his ability to rush the quarterback … Shows a quick burst off the edge and a second gear to get to the quarterback … His fluid hips and athleticism allow him to make quick and effective second moves … Has natural pass-rushing instincts, and his all-around package should allow him to develop into a top-notch pass rusher at the collegiate level … His toughness in the run game is impressive, where he anchors well against blocks and uses his hands to keep blockers off his body. Weaknesses Beal must continue to develop his body, add- ing more size and continuing to enhance his overall strength … He must continue to get stronger — especially with his lower body — to be an every-down player at the collegiate level. — Bryan Driskell

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